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Tualatin Hills Dive Club stars step up at regionals

Olson, Weil, Helm and Risley help T-Hills make its mark
by: MILES VANCE, DIVING DUO – Tualatin Hills Dive Club’s Kevin Olson (left) and Cassie Weil will lead their team into competition at the Summer West Nationals on July 6.

It wasn't always easy for Tualatin Hills Dive Club's Kevin Olson.

Last summer, Olson, 12, found himself near the bottom of the pack at the annual Region 10 Diving Championship.

But Olson kept his head up, spent countless hours in the pool, and made 2006 his own. Olson won all six 13 and U regional competitions this year and is one of the favorites to win the Summer West National Championship in Pasadena, Calif., July 6. He also has a chance to qualify for the U.S. National Team and travel to the World Championships in Kuala Lampur in August.

'I've been working really hard and trying dives even if I'm scared,' Olson said. 'I'm excited to see how I stack up against the divers from the east, but I'm ready.'

Olson swept the 1-meter, 3-meter and platform titles at both the Region 10 Spring and Summer championships, the summer meet concluding two weekends ago in Santa Clara, Calif.

Another THDC diver, 12-year-old Cassie Weil, is working towards a similar goal and seems well on her way after strong performances at both the Region 10 Spring and Summer meets. Weil will return to the Summer West Championships with a better understanding of the competition and is no longer an underdog.

'Last year on platform, Cassie looked like a good little diver with a lot of potential,' said THDC coach John Eisler. 'This year, she is already realizing that potential and will undoubtedly turn some heads on the national scene.'

Weil won the 13U platform at the Summer meet, placed second in the 3-meter and fourth in the 1-meter.

Olson and Weil will be joined in Pasadena by teammates Dan Helm (13) and Brandon Risley (12). Helm qualified for the U.S. Nationals last year in the 13U age group. Now in the more advanced 14-15 age group, Helm has a great chance to return.

Risley, forced to withdraw from the 2005 Summer meet due to injury, came back to qualify for nationals in 2006.

The entire THDC squad was very impressive in what was the largest regional championship in the nation. Eisler was pleased with their performances, but stresses there is still a lot of work to be done.

'The format of these meets is similar to a playoff,' he said. 'We did great in the first round, but our goals are bigger than that. These kids have been working their tails off and have a chance to do some very special things this summer.

'With a steady performance in Pasadena, they should all move on to the U.S. Nationals where they will really have a chance to shine. I can't wait.'