Local divers springing onto national stage

Four La Cañada divers are taking their talent to the national level.

After competing in the USA Diving Zone Championship in Pasadena, 13-year-olds, Madison Witt and Kyla Bradley along with 11-year olds Kara Bradley and Walker Creedon, have all qualified for the USA Diving Junior and Age Group National Championships in Tucson.

The Junior and Age Group Nationals, which will begin Friday and end July 30, will bring together 500 of the best junior divers in the United States. Athletes qualified for the event after doing well in their respective region and zone championships.

The top 12 divers in each event from the Pasadena competition, who had yet to qualify for nationals, earned spots in either the Junior or Age Group National Championships. The top six divers from each event compete in the Junior National Championship, while the next group of six is headed to the Age Group National Championship.

Witt won a spot the Junior Nationals in three events in the 12-13 age group. She placed first in the platform with a score of 280, was fourth in the 3-meter dive (262.5) and placed eighth in the 1-meter dive (217.3).

She will be joined at Juniors by Kyla Bradley. Bradley qualified for both national championship events in the 12-13 age group. She will be competing in the 3-meter at the Junior Nationals after placing seventh in Pasadena (247.95). She will also be taking part in the Age Group event in two events, the 1-meter and platform, after posting a 216.5 in the 1-meter to place ninth and scoring 231.95 in the platform to finish 10th.

Kara Bradley will be competing in all three events at the Junior Nationals in the girls 11-and-under division after placing third in 1-meter (190.2), fourth in the 3-meter (216.15) and fifth in platform (179.05).

Creedon is the only boy from La Cañada to qualify for a trip to Arizona He will be competing in all three boards in the boys' 11-and-under group at Juniors. He finished among the top three of all the events at the Diving Zone Championships, placing second in the 1-meter (180.75 and second in the 3-meter (194.95). He also finished third in platform (188.5).

"Southern California is a big area for diving, so quite a few have qualified from there," said Jennifer Lowery, the communications manager for USA Diving. "The Junior Nationals has been going on for a quite while, but the age group is relatively new. It provides an opportunity for more divers to get a chance to compete for a title."

Between the Junior and Age Group nationals, there will be 52 titles up for grabs. Divers between the ages of 11 and 18 will be competing for titles. However, there is even more to gain from a good showing in Arizona.

"This year is very exciting because the Juniors National Championship are being used as a selection process for the 2010-11 National Junior Elite Performance Squad, which hasn't been held in the United States for quite a long time," Lowery said.

This squad will act as a pipeline for the Senior Olympic Performance Squad and will be used to prepare divers for the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games. Divers will be selected for the group based on their maturation, skill level and athleticism.

All events will be considered in Arizona, with the top three from each event in the 12-13 boys' and girls' divisions qualifying for the team. The 11-and-under boys' and girls' group will have to place in the top two to be selected.

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