U.S. divers win one silver, five bronze on day 3 of Junior Pan Ams

TUCSON, Ariz. – U.S. divers added six more medals to Team USA’s medal count  Saturday at the UANA Junior Pan American Diving Championships, bringing the three-day total to 14 medals with one day of competition remaining.

Maria Coburn (Austin, Texas) won silver on 1-meter in the 12-13 girls age group, and the U.S. won bronze medals in five other events. On 3-meter, Alison Gibson (Austin, Texas) was third in the 14-15 girls age group and James Hopper (Old Greenwich, Conn.) took third in the 12-13 boys age group. Christopher Law (San Antonio, Texas) and Finn Scribbick (San Antonio, Texas) were third in synchronized 3-meter. Estee Pryor (New Albany, Ohio) took third in the 16-18 girls platform contest, and Tarrin Gilliland (Liberty Hill, Texas) won bronze on 1-meter for 11-and-under girls.

Mexico won five of the seven gold medals handed out Saturday, with Canada claiming the other two.

Coburn, who was competing in her second Junior Pan Ams, won her 1-meter silver with 275.90 points in a close contest in which less than 10 points separated first from fifth. Mexico’s Arantza Perez scored 277.25 points for the gold, and Venezuela’s Elizabeth Perez was third at 273.15. USA’s Emily Grund (Keller, Texas) was right behind with 270.45 points for fourth. Coburn was sixth on 1-meter in her first Junior Pan Ams in 2011 and said that experience helped her this year.

“Last time I watched everyone and was worried about what dives they had. This time, I just focused on myself and that helped a lot. I was consistent and was really happy about that,” Coburn said.

Gibson medaled on 3-meter for the second consecutive Junior Pan Ams, having won silver on that event in the 12-13 age group in 2011. This time, she came away with 362.20 points for third in the 14-15 age group. Canadian teammates Molly Carlson and Caeli McKay won gold and silver with 381.00 and 365.25 points, respectively. Brooke Schultz (Fayetteville, Ark.) finished fourth.

“Being able to medal again is just amazing. Junior Pan Ams is a really cool experience. There were a few dives I think I could have done better, but I’m really excited that I was able to get on the podium and represent Team USA,” Gibson said.

Hopper made his Junior Pan Am debut with 329.30 points in the 12-13 3-meter contest to win the bronze. Canada’s Henry McKay scored 339.55 points to edge Mexico’s Kevin Berlin by 1.55 points for the gold. Max Flory (Fairfax, Va.) finished ninth.

“It was really exciting because going into my last dive, I knew I could have done a little better. One of the last people to go (Colombia’s Daniel Restrepo) has a really hard list. I thought for sure he was going to beat me, but he didn’t do his last dive quite as well as he did it in practice,” Hopper said. “I know that some of my voluntaries weren’t as good as they could have been, but my optionals were really good so I was happy that I finished strong.”

(Restrepo, the only diver in the event to perform dives with a degree of difficulty of 3.0 or higher, finished fourth).

2012 Olympic silver medalist Alejandra Orozco of Mexico scored 396.65 points to win the 16-18 girls platform contest. Teammate Monica Marquez finished with 375.60 points to edge USA’s Pryor by less a point for silver. Pryor finished with 374.95 points for bronze, and Emma Villarreal (McGregor, Texas) placed fourth.

“It was my last meet with my coach (Justin Sochor), so I went into this competition just wanting to do the best I could and have fun. Diving’s not always about medaling. It’s about believing in yourself and trusting yourself, but it’s definitely an awesome feeling representing your country and doing well,” Pryor said.

Gilliland’s 1-meter bronze was the 11-year-old’s second medal of the week after having won 3-meter on Thursday. She scored 202.90 points to finish third on 1-meter behind Mexico’s Melissa Mirafuentes (219.95) and Scarlett Calderon (208.20).

“I felt pretty good today. My first Junior Pan Ams has been awesome, and I can’t wait until platform,” said Gilliland, who will look for a third medal in Sunday’s platform contest.

Law and Scribbick, competing internationally together for the first time, took bronze in synchro with 281.31 points. Mexico’s Rodrigo Diego and Adan Zuniga were first at 329.04, and Canada’s Philippe Gagne and Vincent Riendeau scored 313.80 points for second.

“I thought Finn and I did great. We went out there and had a lot of fun. It wasn’t necessarily about winning. It was about going out there and showing the world what we can do. For our first time being in international competition diving synchro together, I felt we did great. We’re both very proud of how we did and hope we get to come back and do this again (in other international meets),” Law said.

Mexico’s Randal Willars won his second gold medal of the championships with 280.10 points in the 11-and-under boys platform contest a day after winning the 3-meter event. Canada’s Ryland Wiens was second, and Mexico’s Bryan Santiesteban was third. USA’s Jackson Miller (Southlake, Texas) and Kevin Mendez (Lighthouse Point, Fla.) were sixth and seventh.

The Junior Pan American Championships conclude Sunday.

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