Ipsen, Hixon get Olympic 3-meter spots, Dumais finishes 4th
INDIANAPOLIS >> With one long hug and a few brief words, Troy Dumais asked Kristian Ipsen to carry on the legacy of American diving.
Ipsen smiled, Dumais choked back tears and now the two longtime synchro partners are heading in drastically different directions.
On Saturday, Ipsen and Michael Hixon took the two Olympic spots in men's 3-meter, while Dumais' bid to become the first U.S. man to dive in five Olympic Games came to an end.
"It was cool because he just said 'you're going to kill it,' " Ipsen said after winning with the event with a score of 1,452.75 points. "It's pretty awesome. He's been to four Olympics now, so for him to say that was like passing on the torch. It was a really cool moment."
For Ipsen and Hixon, it was a bittersweet moment.
While Ipsen is headed to his second straight Olympics and will compete in Rio in his first individual event, he wanted to win another medal with Dumais in 3-meter springboard. They earned a bronze four years ago but finished second at the trials in an event that only had one spot available.
Hixon, 21, is the son of Amherst College men's basketball coach Dave Hixon and Mandy Hixon, the women's diving coach at UMass. Mandy Hixon was also the head diving coach at Williams College, before moving to Amherst in 1990.
Hixon's score of 1,385.45 assured him of qualifying in both 3-meter events but even the first-time Olympian kept his joy in check — knowing this would be the end of Dumais' diving career.
"I just told him I loved him and thank you," Hixon said. "We trained together at Texas for a year. He's done a lot for USA Diving and he's been a tremendous mentor to so many kids coming up that it seems like thank you doesn't quite cut it."
Fans at the Indiana University Natatorium felt the same way.
When the 36-year-old Dumais stepped onto the springboard for the final dive of his final event, already out of contention, the biggest crowd of the week roared so loud for so long that Dumais bent over, wiped his eyes and waved to the crowd before making that short jog one last time. He scored a 71.4 on the dive and wound up fourth overall at 1,287.4.
"What a way to go out, huh? A standing ovation in front of my family," he said through reddened eyes. "It's a dive I'll always relive in my mind — standing on the board, seeing the people. It was actually hard to do."
But as he has done so many times before, Dumais got the dive done and then graciously accepted his fate.
If anyone was to derail Dumais, he would have wanted it to be Ipsen, who made it look easy.
The semifinal leader extended his lead on three of the first four dives and sealed his spot when Hixon nearly smacked his back on the water and was given a 17.5 on his fourth dive.
The miss gave Dumais a brief opening, but Hixon rebounded with a 91.2 and a 95.2 on his final two dives to hold on.
"I'm very excited," Ipsen said. "It's been a really long week, a lot of ups and downs. It's been super emotional, especially with Troy and his last dive. But I'm really happy it went the way it did for me today."
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