MOULTRIE – Carson Tyler of the Moss Farms Diving Tigers – along with his coach John Fox – returned home Monday from the 2019 Junior Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile. Though Tyler, in Group B boys, did not bring back any medals, he had at least one of the more memorable moments of the games, judging at least by the crowd reaction.
Tyler was one of the 24 athletes chosen by USA Diving to form Team USA, and this was based on his three top 3 showings at this summer’s USA Diving Junior Nationals at the University of Tennessee.
In Chile, Tyler placed in the top 6 of all three disciplines, and at the Junior Pan American Games Fox said each one was done in one round, not with preliminaries or semifinals like at the USA Juniors.
Fox also said the order was done in a way that benefitted Tyler in that it started with the 1-meter springboard, the one the coach said he spends the least amount of time on in practice. It then went to the platform event and the 3-meter, which Fox said is Tyler’s strongest board. This is where Tyler placed second in the nation at this year’s USA Junior Nationals and third in 2018 in Atlanta.
For 1-meter in Chile, Tyler placed sixth out of nine divers with a score of 342.85. That was two points out of fifth held by Carlos Mota Covarrubias of Mexico. Maxwell Miller of Woodlands Diving in Texas, Tyler’s partner in synchronized diving, took third place.
This event was held on Aug. 22. The following day featured the Group B boys platform. Tyler was the highest placing American, five out of nine, with a score of 382.1. Each event consisted of eight dives, and six of Tyler’s eight in platform were done in 10 meters.
Then came the drama of the 3-meter springboard on Sunday, Aug. 25. Fox said Tyler was well on his way to a medal, perhaps even Gold, with scores of 49.35, 56 and 67.2 in the middle of his list. With a cumulative score of 342.95, Tyler’s penultimate dive was a forward 3 1/2 somersault tuck. But Fox said Tyler suffered a “fluke” occurrence where his knee buckled and he did not complete a dive in which he’s scored at the most 67.2.
So the score stayed where it was going into the final dive. Fox showed the video of both the buckled dive and the last one, which was executed greatly for a score of 58.5 and a roar from those watching inside the facility. Tyler had to settle for 401.45 and sixth place, just over a point shy of fifth held by Matt Cullen of Canada. Miller placed third (440.65).
Fox said Tyler showed great resilience to come back and make that last dive because this was a tense, pressure packed environment of competition. He doesn’t think Tyler’s seen the last of the divers from countries like Mexico, Canada, Brazil or Colombia because his diver left with more hunger to get back to that level.
The next Pan American Games, which took place this year in Peru, are going to be in Chile in 2023, and the coach said Tyler is aiming for that plus the 2024 and 2028 Summer Olympics.