Missouri sophomore takes diving title at Big 12 Championship

Friday, February 24, 2012 | 11:39 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — For David Bonuchi and his coach Jamie Sweeney, a Big 12 championship was just another goal to meet.

Eight years after the pair started working together, Bonuchi, a 2010 Hickman High School graduate and current Missouri sophomore, captured the 3-meter diving title Friday night in front of his home crowd at the Big 12 Swimming and Diving Championships.

Team standings through Friday

 Women's standings
1. Texas A&M - 717
2. Texas - 569
3. Missouri -  451

Men's standings
1. Texas - 684.5
2. Texas A&M - 583 
3. Missouri -  516.5 

Bonuchi faced a tough opponent in Texas' Drew Livingston, who kept the competition close through the final dive. 

"Drew is an amazing competitor, and he could easily get tens on that dive, so I knew I had to put down a great dive in order to seal the win," he said. "It was pretty nerve-wracking."

Sweeney, who has coached Bonuchi since he was 11, sees controlling his diver's emotions as his most important task as a coach.

"Before the meet, he was way too intense and too excited," he said. "I saw something bad coming. I had to get a hold of him and say, 'we're up here, and we got to bring it down to the middle.'"

The chat with his coach seemed to pay off, as Bonuchi remained level-headed throughout the competition. 

"I never even had a thought in my mind of, 'I'm going to win this thing," Bonuchi sad. "It's more like, 'I'm going to get my last dive off. Hopefully it's good enough to get a victory.'"

Sweeney said he and Bonuchi always set lofty goals and have met many of them. Bonuchi won a national junior championship and competed in international competition at the senior diving level before he started at Missouri.

With a conference title in hand, the pair have their sights set on next month's NCAA championships.

"What I can tell you right now is, man, me and him would give anything to win an NCAA title," Sweeney said. "We've got this under our belt now. Big 12, that's just a bonus. It really is."

Bonuchi highlighted a night in which Missouri sent 14 men and seven women to championship races. Five Tigers took home medals.

Senior Shara Stafford was Missouri's lone race winner, placing first in the 200-yard freestyle race. Sophomore Dominique Bouchard took third in the 100-yard backstroke. 

For the men, senior Yaniv Schneider placed second in the 400-yard individual medley, freshman Igor Kozlovskij placed second in the 100-yard breaststroke and freshman Neil O'Halloran was third in the 100-yard backstroke.

A Big 12 champion will be crowned tomorrow night as the meet wraps up at the Mizzou Aquatic Center.

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