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There were six spots available for the Division III National Diving Competition, and Fredonia’s own Meghan Bartlett and Arron Carlson each took one. After competing at the NCAA Division III Region 4 meet in Ithaca on Feb. 24 and 25, these Blue Devils were able leave with multiple wins and the guarantee of diving at the NCAA National meet.
When all was said and done at Regionals, Bartlett walked away with a win on the women’s one-meter board and a second place finish on the three-meter. Carlson was able to dominate the competition, winning both of the men’s boards. And this was after realizing that his knee had been injured.
“This was the most… stressful [competition],” said Carlson. “It was really hard to try to stay positive, but I knew at the same time that if I kind of relaxed and just got through everything I would be where I needed to be to go to Nationals.”
Bartlett’s experience was not quite as tense, however. She said, “It was just really smooth and kind of a fun meet for me.”
Both were very excited and relieved after seeing their successes in the event.
“It was good to see where I stood … I like where I ended up” said Bartlett. “It was nice to know that I was still at the top of my game even when some things were a little off. So, if anything, it was a confidence booster.”
Now the two are looking forward to the National meet held in Shenandoah, Texas, from March 15 to 19. This is the third year in a row that the two seniors have qualified and competed in this exclusive meet. In 2016, both were awarded as national runner-ups in the one-meter board.
They understand that the competition will be fierce but are looking forward to having fun, doing their best and seeing where it takes them.
“I look at it one of two ways; I want to win, there’s no doubt about that. I haven’t lost yet, but I want to win. But if I go out and I get beaten at my best, I’m not going to be upset,” said Carlson. “If I go out there and do all of my dives well, not even all of them perfect, if I do everything consistently and be as good as I can be on that day and not get in my own head and not be frustrated, what happens is what happens.”
For the two seniors, years of training and participating in these fierce events have led up to this competition. But they know that they never would have gotten to be where they are today without the hard work and dedication of teammates and coaches.
“This program here at Fredonia … is the best Division III program out there. And it’s because, one, we have great coaches. Two, everybody on the team is extremely competitive, whether they like each other or not, they will help you compete against other teams,” said Carlson. “They want you to do the best you can. You’re family … And it really comes down to John Crawford who started this program, and Ryan Fuller who picked up the program three years ago, who have pushed their athletes to be a family.”
Bartlett adds, “If Ryan, our coach, wasn’t here for us, I don’t know what we would do. He’s the most supportive and helpful coach that I’ve ever had.”
They also acknowledge the support that they have received from parents and families throughout the seasons.
“My parents have gone to almost every single meet, and they’re out of state,” said Carlson. “Meghan’s parents drive five hours to go to pretty much every meet … When we go places for other team home meets, they’ll have a parent every once in awhile, but we’ll have parents drive upwards of six or seven hours to go to an away meet for us.”
Bartlett and Carlson have had the training and experience. Now all that is left is for them to do it.