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Utah pair to dive for U.S. at '04 Games

Published: Tuesday, June 15 2004 12:00 a.m. MDT

PROVO — Two former BYU divers — Rachelle Kunkel of West Valley City and Smithfield's Justin Wilcock — will represent the United States in the 2004 Athens Olympics after second-place finishes at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials over the weekend.

Rachelle Kunkel, an All-American on the 1-meter springboard in 1999 and 2000, was in second place heading into the finals of the 3-meter springboard competition and held off 2000 Olympian Michelle Davison to finish with a score of 874.38.

Kunkel also went back and forth in standings with eventual champion Kimiko Soldati. Kunkel said she had an idea of how the standings were shaping up but didn't pay too much attention.

"I was aware," she said, "but I don't watch the scoreboard a ton. Just want to see what kind of scores I received and just vaguely aware of where I'm at. Also, I heard a cameraman say I was in front, so that kind of gave it away."

Kunkel will now go on to the Olympic games, pending final approval from the Olympic Committee.

"My goal coming in here was to just dive consistent and normal for what I train for," she said.

Justin Wilcock, another former all-American for the Cougars, found himself in third place by only one point heading into the finals of Friday's men's 3-meter springboard competition.

Wilcock, who earned all-American honors in the 10-meter platform in 1998, scored 8s and 9s in his first three dives, overtaking eventual winner Troy Dumais. Wilcock finished with a score of 1,117.38 behind Dumais' 1,151.37.

"When a diver steps up to the plate like he did, he elevates the contest." said Dumais, who trains in Texas with Wilcock and who had already qualified in the men's synchronized 3-meter springboard earlier. "He did a heck of a job. I am so proud of him. He has worked so hard. This is his night."

Wilcock was surprised with his Olympic-qualifying results. "I still think it is a bit of disbelief," he said. "It is something that I have worked for and dreamed about for so long. I think I am still in a bit of shock."

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