Josh Hedberg, a Noblesville 14-year-old, has become the youngest U.S. male diver to qualify for the World Championships.
Hedberg created a sensation during June’s Olympic Trials at Indianapolis, finishing fourth on 10-meter platform. He was second in the winter national championships, which wrapped up Saturday night at Bloomington.
Top two qualified for May’s World Championships at Fukuoka, Japan.
Team USA effectively will be Team Indiana. Thirteen of the 16 divers have an Indiana connection, including another high schooler, women’s platform champion Daryn Wright of Plainfield.
Hedberg will be about 15 years and four months when he competes at worlds. Previously, the youngest was Indianapolis’ Thomas Finchum, who was 15 years, seven months during the 2005 worlds at Montreal.
Tarrin Gilliland, who was 14 at the 2017 worlds, is the youngest U.S. female diver. She made the 2022 team in mixed-gender platform.
Zach Cooper, 23, a University of Miami (Fla.) diver from Greenwood, won men’s platform Friday with a score of 839.85 points from two lists of six dives each. Hedberg, who led through 10 dives, was second with 832.10.
Sean McCarthy, who coaches Hedberg at Indiana International School of Diving, said the “secret to the success” was six months of practicing the one-day format of prelims and finals.
“It’s appropriate event rehearsal,” McCarthy said.
Indiana University freshman Carson Tyler was third and 16-year-old Tyler Wills of Carmel fourth.
Only four divers from the Tokyo Olympics competed, and all made the world team: Purdue’s Tyler Downs, IU’s Andrew Capobianco, Delaney Schnell and Hailey Hernandez.
Elsewhere, Sarah Bacon of the University of Minnesota qualified for worlds by finishing first on 1-meter and second on 3-meter.
Bacon (Cardinal Ritter) outscored Brooke Schultz (Hamilton Heights) on 1-meter by 26 points in a duel between former high school state champions. Hernandez beat Bacon on 3-meter by seven points.
Bacon, the 2021 Big Ten athlete of the year, was third on 3-meter at the Olympic Trials, one spot from making the U.S. team. In a pre-Olympics event at Tokyo, her 3-meter silver made her the first U.S. female springboard diver to win a World Cup medal since Kelly McCormick’s bronze in 1989.
On platform, the 18-year-old Wright, who was fourth after morning prelims, came from behind to win Saturday night. Fourth-place Maggie Merriman of Purdue took the other world spot because second and third place represent other countries.
Downs and Capobianco, an Olympic silver medalist in synchro, reprised their 1-2 finish on 3-meter from the Olympic Trials. They finished in that same order on 1-meter.
Contact IndyStar reporter David Woods at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidWoods007.