AUSTIN, Texas – Michael Hixon did it again.
Hixon, a Texas freshman competing in his first NCAA Division I Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships is now a two-time champion.
His Friday victory in the three-meter springboard bookends the one-meter springboard title he had won 24 hours earlier, during Thursday’s opening-day competition.
Again diving in his home well at the Lee and Joe Jamail Swimming Center, Hixon nailed his sixth and final dive to seal the victory, just as he had done on Thursday.He also betrayed a bit of scoreboard-watching. Hixon and his Longhorn teammates lead California by six points atop the team standings heading into Saturday’s third and final round.
“We had a great prelim this morning and we kept the finals going,” Hixon said of his three-meter performance. “Those 20 points will help. Any points will help here. It’s going to be tight. Cal is swimming unbelievable.”
Hixon, from Amherst, Mass., is diving unbelievably. A member of the 2013 USA Diving World team and former top recruit, he has delivered a combined 40 points to Texas’ overall total.
“He’s had two opportunities, he’s won both,” Texas head coach Eddie Reese said. “But really what he embodies is more important. He’s one of those guys who, when he has to have something, he can go to the next level and do it. That’s special. Not many people can do that.”
In Friday’s three-meter competition, Hixon was seventh entering the sixth and final round of dives. As the last diver, standing backward on the board, he executed three and a half somersaults back toward the board. The degree of difficulty was 3.4, and Hixon was near-flawless. The hometown crowd erupted before he was fully submerged in the diving pool, and the scoreboard somersaulted him to the top of the final standings.
Hixon won with a total of 457.20 points. Arizona State’s Riley McCormick finished second with 412.40. McCormick had held the lead prior to Hixon’s final dive.
But it was Hixon’s teammates who rioted around him.
“That crowd is unbelievable,” he said. “Having my boys right there, right beside the three-meter, that was unbelievable. I kind of went a little crazy after my last dive, probably a little bit too much. I just tried to get them going. It was an unbelievable atmosphere out there.”
Not lost on the victor was the identity of who he beat.
Stanford junior Kristian Ipsen, the defending champion in both springboard events, finished fourth Friday night.
Hixon said Ipsen’s degree of difficulty on that same dive was 3.9, adding, “That’s a big dive.”
But with Thursday’s title in his possession, this freshmen felt as if he could go back-to-back on Friday.
“That definitely gave me the confidence that I could beat him,” Hixon said of Ipsen. “He’s been a great diver since he was [age] six, and I’m just starting to get to the point that I can do dives at this level.”