For the first time in program history, the Seton Hall diving team took first place in the overall Big East diving championships in Villanova this weekend.
Junior Ben Mitchell and sophomore Gabby Signorelli swept their respective events in the conference championships, winning the one- and three-meter competition for the men and women.
Mitchell has become just the fifth male in program history to be named Big East champion. Signorelli becomes the third for the women’s side with the addition of the programs sixth and seventh overall titles.
Head diving coach PJ Hughes was chosen as Coach of the Year for both the men and women as the team had a stellar outing overall in the first year of the new-look Big East.
“It’s something I saw as a diver and when I became a coach I looked up to other coaches when they got it,” Hughes said.
“To get it was a very big honor, but I attribute more to the divers, more to their hard work and talent.”
Mitchell, who was the top returning finisher from the Big East last season, started off his successful day diving to a score of 621.45 from the three-meter board, more than 100 points up on the second-place finisher.
The school record holder for both events reached over 300 points in the prelims and final at 301.50 as he headed into the last round, where he topped that score by almost 20 at 319.95 and collected his first championship.
A Pirate has never topped 300 points in just a six-dive set before Mitchell did so in the 2011-2012 campaign, but he has now accomplished the feat 15 times in his career.
Later, he led the way in the one-meter with a two-round score of 535.50 to cap off the sweep. Sophomore Eric Davidson came in second with 489.10 and freshman Alex Pfisterer reeled in fourth place at with 442.60.
For the women’s team, Signorelli and senior Katie Riley placed in the top two in both the one-meter and three-meter. She scored 273.80 in prelims and racked up 242.35 points in the final to finish with a total of 516.15. Riley placed second with a total of 431.45.
Signorelli dominated the three-meter board and executed another sweep with a three-meter score of 497.05. Riley got the second spot again at 470.80. Signorelli helped end a 20-year long title drought as she was crowned Big East Champion.
“I have no words to express it,” Signorelli said. “It’s an incredible feeling. I feel such happiness and sharing it with my team allows me to be happy for myself.”
For the first time in program history, both leaders were honored and named Most Outstanding Divers for the men’s side and women’s side.
“I didn’t even know it was a possibility,” Signorelli said. “It was a huge shock when they called my name, but I was happier when PJ (Hughes) was called, he deserves it more than anyone else.”
Divers who qualified for the Zone A Diving Championships will head out to Blacksburg, Va., for the meet March 10-12.
Tom Zappia can be reached at email@example.com.