NCAA DIVISION II SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS : Divers Nogosek, King Switch Places, but Keep the Title Between Them

Times Staff Writer

They are teammates and good friends.

But, since they also are the top two divers at the NCAA Division II championships, Blair Nogosek and Roland King are rivals, too.

Not bitter, but rivals nonetheless.

Perhaps because of their rivalry, the Cal State Northridge seniors switched places this week at the Justus Aquatic Center.

Last year, Nogosek had to look up at King during the awards ceremonies. He finished second to King on the one- and three-meter boards.

This year he was looking down.

Nogosek completed his sweep of the Division II diving championships Thursday, winning the three-meter event by .55 of a point over Jon Staley of Missouri Rolla. King was fourth.

On Wednesday, King was second to Nogosek on the one-meter board.

"Better him than somebody else," King said of his dethroning.

That's the way it is between these two.

"They feel the tenseness and the rivalry in workouts, and it carries over to the meets," said Northridge diving Coach Van Austin. "But they both know that it's healthiest for them for it to be that way, so they remain good friends."

Nogosek credits his turnaround this season to more consistent workouts.

Seeing King every day helped, he said.

"You can progress together," he said. "It makes you work harder."

Austin said that Nogosek was almost perfect this week on both boards.

Of his performance on the three-meter board, Austin said: "He literally had to hit every dive, with all that big degree of difficulty, to win by such a narrow margin because the other diver was diving so well."

King, though, was erratic.

"He was just trying too hard," Austin said. "He made some mistakes that he doesn't usually make, and then, instead of letting one mistake go and getting on with the next dive, he let it worry him a little bit. I was a little bit unhappy that he let himself get uptight."

Said the King without the crowns: "I didn't perform well at all. I just kind of went up and down. I just couldn't stay consistent, and that's what it takes. And I don't know why. I felt good, but it just didn't come together.

"I'm happy for Blair, though. He dove great."

Later, when asked if he felt a little less pressure because King wasn't up to par, Nogosek quickly replied: "I want him to hit the dives. If I'm going to lose, I want to lose to him."

Both King and Nogosek are aware of their impact on the team standings.

Cal State Bakersfield, CSUN's closest rival for the team title, has no divers, so any points scored by Northridge divers go unanswered.

At the halfway point of this four-day meet, Northridge holds a 239-228 lead over Bakersfield, and 101 of the Matadors' points have been scored by divers Nogosek, King, Eric Morris and Kevin Moeller.

Last year, Bakersfield outscored Northridge in the swimming events, 417 1/2-393, but CSUN won its fifth straight team title because of the 95 points from diving. King and Nogosek had combined to score 74.

And what did Nogosek think last year when King beat him on both boards?

"Better him than somebody else," he said.

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