Having success as a diver is nothing new for Nicola Mancini of Falmouth.
Being relaxed enough to enjoy the success? That’s something refreshingly new for Mancini, the former three-time state Class B champ.
In her freshman season at Bentley University, Mancini has repeatedly broken school and pool records off the 1- and 3-meter boards. Last week Mancini turned in the school’s first 300-point, six-dive scores on both boards, scoring 306.64 on the 1-meter and 305.55 for the 3-meter.
“I would say I’m just very much more consistent with my dives,” Mancini said Tuesday. “I’m more relaxed. I would get so nervous in high school.”
Mancini will compete Thursday in the 1-meter event at the Northeast-10 championships at Southern Connecticut State. The 3-meter competition will be held Saturday. She enters as the favorite in both.
“This is basically what we’ve worked for all year, our conference meet,” Mancini said.
On Tuesday she was named the NE-10 women’s swimming and diving rookie of the week for the fifth time and the women’s diving athlete of the week for the fourth time.
Mancini is the only women’s Division II diver to top 300 points (as of Jan. 17); she’s done it three times. Early this season she met the prequalifying standard for the NCAA Division II championships March 6-9 in Birmingham, Ala.
According to Bentley diving coach Rick Danehy, approximately 50 prequalified divers will compete at the NCAA site in a qualifying round. The top 22 in each event will advance to the championships, where an 11-dive morning session will determine the eight divers for the night finals.
“We’ve had two male diving All-Americans and several women make it to the meet but not get into the final, so we’re hoping for our first female All-America diver,” Danehy said.
Mancini said one key to her success this season is learning to slow her approach on the board, allowing her to transfer more energy vertically. A gymnast before she began diving competitively in the fifth grade, Mancini said she habitually sprinted down the board as if she was trying to “back hand spring across the pool.”
“In diving you have to be patient. That was a big challenge for me,” she said.
Mancini was unbeaten in Maine high school competition, but never reached her goals.
As a senior she scored 448.60 at the state meet — the first time a Maine high school diver topped 400 points in 14 years, but it was nine points shy of Katie Mailman’s record set in 1998.
“Nine points. That’s a toe point,” Mancini said.
A week earlier Mancini won the North Southwesterns by over 100 points but what she remembers is a dive that earned zero points. An average score on that dive would have earned her the Southwesterns’ record.
“I put so much pressure on myself to get those records. I wanted them,” Mancini said. “I failed a dive. That’s something you don’t do unless you’re a beginner. I just kind of choked.”
At Bentley, she said she’s enjoying being part of a successful team with several talented divers. She also likes that the diving is contested during the swimming events, rather than in hushed silence — the practice at high school meets.
“Diving with these girls makes it so much more fun and it’s just awesome to have everyone at a good level,” Mancini said.
Danehy said Mancini’s power, speed, spatial awareness and “uncommon grace” is top Division I caliber.
“I believe she probably could have (competed) anywhere she wanted to dive,” Danehy said. “We’re extremely lucky to have her. She might not have been the top diver coming in (at a top Division I school) but I believe by the time she graduated she would have been.”
SWIMMING AND DIVING
St. Michael’s College first-year Catherine Tierney of Cape Elizabeth won the 500 and 1,000 freestyle races in a recent dual meet victory at Norwich. She was also part of the winning 400-yard freestyle relay.
In the men’s meet, St. Michael’s senior Andrew Marshall of Kittery (St. Thomas Aquinas of Dover, N.H.) won the 500 and 1,000 freestyles, and combined with sophomore Nathan Paluso of Windham and two others to win the 400 free relay. Paluso won the 50 back by 0.01 seconds. Earlier in the month, Marshall was named to the NE-10 weekly honor roll after winning a 1,650-yard freestyle by nearly a minute and coming within 12.01 seconds of the school mark.
• Keegan Goan of Westbrook is 12-0 this season in the 50- and 100-yard butterfly events for Elms College after winning both events Saturday against Regis College. Goan won the 100 butterfly in 55.48 seconds and the 50 fly in 24.62, placed second in the 200 IM (2:13.39), and helped anchor the winning 200 freestyle relay as Elms fell nine points short of a victory.
• Wheaton College freshman Daniel Spencer of North Yarmouth (Greely) was part of the winning 400-yard freestyle relay in a double dual meet with Worcester Polytechnic Institute and UMass-Dartmouth. Spencer also was second in the 100-yard freestyle (50.33 seconds). In an earlier dual meet against Babson, Kyle Wilson of Cumberland (Greely) joined Spencer in a 200-yard medley relay team that placed third.
TRACK AND FIELD
Haverford College freshman Fiona Hendry of South Portland (Cheverus) didn’t take long to put her name in the school’s record book. In her first track meet, Hendry won the 3,000 meters in 10 minutes, 0.08 seconds at the New York University Team Challenge. St. John’s won the team competition. Hendry is coming off an All-America cross country season, placing 23rd in the NCAA Division III championships to lead her team to 13th overall.
• Wheaton freshman Sam Miklovich of Gray-New Gloucester was part of a 1,600 relay that placed ninth at the Joe Donahue Games at Boston and also was 13th in the 500- meter run in 1:10.07.
• Bates sophomore Colby Gail of Topsham (Mt. Ararat) won the weight throw at the USM Invitational by more than 2 feet with a toss of 47 feet, 1.5 inches and was sixth in the shot put. Teammate Jenny Snyder, a junior from Scarborough, was fourth in the triple jump and seventh in the long jump to help Bates finish third.
Regis College junior forward Claire Ramonas of Portland (Deering) was named the New England Collegiate Conference player of the week after averaging 13.3 points in three wins as Regis improved to 8-0 in the conference. In addition to her scoring, Ramonas averaged nine rebounds, and totaled eight assists and 11 steals. Through 15 games, Ramonas averaged 12.5 points and 6.7 rebounds.
n Bates senior Brianna Hawkins of South Portland is averaging 6.2 points and 4.8 rebounds. Sophomore Allaina Murphy of Poland Spring (Saint Dominic) is chipping in 5.6 points and 3.6 rebounds.
Bates senior Ed Bogdanovich of Portland had a game-high 21 points in Saturday’s 74-67 loss to Tufts. Bogdanovich, at 6-foot-6, is averaging 12.7 points and 7.2 rebounds — team highs — for the Bobcats (7-12 overall, 2-5 in the NESCAC).
Staff Writer Steve Craig can be contacted at 791-6413 or at: