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On the opening night of the 2018 ACC Championships at the Greensboro Aquatic Center, Florida State divers Blaire Mulka and Joshua Davidson produced their first podium finishes of their careers behind two top notch performances.

Mulka took home gold in women’s 1-meter with a score of 317.50 while Davidson won 3-meter silver at 415.40.

In just her second career ACC Championship final, Mulka was on fire, averaging 7.31 per dive, which was almost an entire point higher than her prelim average (6.33) after qualifying as the top seed with a score of 273.85.

Mulka distanced herself from the field after she hit her forward 2 ½ somersault pike for marks of 8.0’s, tallying 61.10, which was the highest score of any dive in the competition. The Boca Raton, Fla., native scored above 50 points on three of her final four dives, holding about a 10-point cushion from the next best diver.

Mulka closed out her gold medal performance with an inward 1 ½ somersault pike that tallied 56.40.

“I couldn’t be happier for Blaire,” FSU head diving coach John Proctor said. “She’s a true example of hard work paying off. What a great way to start her last ACC appearance.”

With the win, the Seminoles claim back-to-back 1-meter women’s titles and third in four years as sophomore Ayla Bonniwell was the champ in 2017 after Katrina Young won the crown in 2015.

“I owe this win to my teammates and my coaches,” Mulka said. “I am so thrilled and overwhelmed right now and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.”

Freshman Joshua Davidson and sophomore Cameron Thatcher advanced to finals after battling back in prelims to qualify in fifth and seventh respectively.

From the start of finals, Davidson turned it up a notch, getting out to the early lead after scoring marks from 8.0-9.0 on his forward 3 ½ somersault pike in the second round for a total of 77.50. Thatcher was right there with Davidson after two rounds, but a mishap in the third dropped him to sixth.

Thatcher wasn’t out for long, putting together totals of 72 and 74 points on his next two dives.

Davidson’s third dive opened the door just a hair for Gregory Duncan of North Carolina and James Brady of NC State, as he posted a total of 60 points.  All three divers would go on to score above 60 points on each of their next two dives. Davidson headed into the final round in third place, just under two-points off the leader.

He saved his best, and toughest dive for last where he received marks of 8.0 for a total of 81.60 on his forward 2 ½ somersault 2 twist pike.  Davidson outlasted Brady (67.20) in the final round, however Duncan matched Davidson’s 81.60 with the same dive, thus giving the Tomball, Texas, native the silver.

“Josh has been rock solid all year,” Proctor said. “He did a great job tonight. Cam too. He’s improved a ton and it showed today.”

Thatcher finished his round with marks of 5.5 and 6.0 the same twister as Davidson for a final total of 367.90.

In addition to Davidson and Thatcher, sophomore Aidan Faminoff placed 18th (302.80) and senior Tyler Roberge was 24th (267.20).  Bonniwell and sophomore Molly Carlson also contributed towards the team total as Bonniwell placed 15th (246.85) and Carlson (244.75) was 18th.

“Molly just came back from an injury and she was inches away from the final,” Proctor said. “She did great. Ayla had a big weight to carry and she actually dove well. She had great boardwork and good tops but couldn’t finish on her entries.”

In the swimming portion of Wednesday’s meet, Florida State competed in the 200 medley and 800 free relays.

The team of freshman Madeline Cohen along with seniors Natalie Pierce, Tayla Lovemore and Alexi Smith touched in eighth place with a time of 1:37.71.

“We had some good swims today,” FSU head coach Neal Studd said. “Our diving was outstanding. We had a mistake on an exchange in our medley relay that went into meet as one the favorites, but we’ll dust ourselves off and use it to fuel us for tomorrow.”

Junior Shelly Drozda, freshmen Emma Terebo and Elise Olsen and junior Leila Johnston finished 10th in the 800 free relay with a time of 7:14.40.  Drozda led off with a split of 1:48.24, which cracked the FSU all-time top 10 list in 10th place.

Thursday’s prelims will start at 10 a.m. and will feature the 500 free, 200 IM and 50 free. The top 24 will advance to finals, which start at 6 p.m. and will be streamed on WatchESPN. The women’s will compete in 3-meter prelims starting at 12 p.m.

Florida State is in eighth place after three events with a total of 131 points.

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Courtesy of Christa Salerno