Michael Hixon returning to Olympics after winning men’s syhnchro 3-meter title at US diving trials

  • Amherst’s Michael Hixon, left, is heading back to the Olympics after he and partner Andrew Capobianco won the 2021 US Diving Olympic Trials on Friday in Indianapolis. COURTESY USA DIVING

Staff Writer
Published: 6/11/2021 8:28:06 PM

Michael Hixon left no doubt about his spot on the 2021 Olympic diving team.

He and partner Andrew Capobianco built on a comfortable lead at the start of Friday’s US Diving Olympic Trials and won the men’s synchronized 3-meter springboard event with 1289.37 points. Only the top team gets to go to Tokyo, and Hixon and Capobianco showed they were that from the start. They led wire to wire in Indianapolis.

“Incredibly proud of him and the way he stepped up all week,” Hixon said after the last dive. “Couldn’t ask for a better synchro partner.”

As Friday’s final progressed, it became an inevitability by the time they reached their last dive. They led by more than 100 points going into the final round and still threw down their hardest dive of the competition to close the evening: 109C - forward dive with four and a half turns in the tuck position. It scored 90.06 points - their most of the round - to put an exclamation point on the achievement.

“I looked at the scoreboard and saw that we’d done it and Mike looked at me and said ‘keep your head in it,’” Capobianco said. Whis was very important for me because I think my head was definitely out of it.”

Three of their final four dives topped 85 points to leave the competition behind. They started diving together in 2018.

“When I came to (Indiana), (Hoosiers and Team USA coach) Drew (Johannsen) tried to model my diving after Mike’s a little bit, so when we did come together the timing was pretty good,” Capobianco said. “The biggest thing for me was learning how to dive synchro, I had never really done synchro in the past, and especially coming in your first real synchro partner is the Olympic silver medalist from the last Olympics. He took me under his wing, and it’s been really special.”

Gregory Duncan and Grayson Campbell were second with 1168.8 points.

Capobianco became an Olympian for the first time after back-to-back national titles at Indiana, while Hixon will dive in his second straight Games. He made it with then-synchro partner Sam Dorman, who attended this year’s trials as a fan, and as an individual. They captured a silver medal.

“It says a lot about my support system, including both those synchro partners. I’m really the bridge between two great divers, to be honest,” Hixon said.

Competition will begin July 28th in Tokyo.

Before that, both Capobianco and Hixon will compete in Saturday’s men’s individual springboard final. Hixon sits third with 873.55 points, while Capobianco is sixth (825.5). The top two finishers will represent the U.S. in Tokya. David Bouda is in first with 889.7 points, and Campbell is second at 874.2.

“We’ll enjoy this for about five minutes before we move on to that,” Hixon said.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter

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