Despite All-American performance, Bonuchi not satisfied

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 | 9:13 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Missouri junior diver David Bonuchi slouched in the leather computer chair, his arms folded, his shoulders slumped.

For someone who had earned three top-10 finishes in last week’s NCAA championships, Bonuchi was anything but ecstatic.

Slowly he swiveled from left to right then right to left, shaking his head in disgust.

“Honestly, it was the worst performance I’ve ever had in college,” Bonuchi said Wednesday about the competition. “Nothing was clicking.”

Expectations were high for Bonuchi. At last year's NCAA championships he finished second in the platform diving, sixth in 1-meter and fourth in the 3-meter events. This season, though, he earned seventh in the platform, third in the 1-meter and eighth in the 3-meter.  

Perhaps nobody’s expectations were loftier than the ones Bonuchi placed on himself. After all, Bonuchi felt the healthiest he had in months entering this season's competition. The ruptured eardrum he suffered at the Southeastern Conference Championships in February had fully healed.

And then there was his confidence, which swelled after nearly sweeping all three events at the SEC meet.

Bonuchi paused for a moment, trying to explain what went wrong. Seconds passed before he found the right words.

“I had everything going for me. It just didn’t happen,” he said. “If I would’ve done my average from this year, I would’ve been second or possibly first. I need to get more consistent.”

Immediately after the competition, Bonuchi said he tried to put the “disappointment” from NCAA championships behind him. On the six-hour bus ride returning to Columbia, Bonuchi said he focused on the precious day off awaiting him, not his performance.

Now, Bonuchi is focused on diving for the United States national team this spring and summer. He plans to compete in an international grand prix hosted in Canada at the end of this month and at the World Trials in June. His ultimate goal is to represent the United States at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Next year as a senior, he will compete in the NCAA championships for the last time.

Bonuchi sipped from a Rockstar energy drink, waiting for the diving team’s dry-land fitness portion of Wednesday's practice to begin. He said he enjoyed his one day off before returning to the pool. The year-round grind of diving is something he is well accustomed to by now, something he secretly enjoys.

This year, the grind is helping him move on from March’s disappointment.

"I just want to move on from it," Bonuchi said. "I've got next year."

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