April 8, 2005
TEMPE, Ariz. - After claiming two national crowns at the 2005 NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships, the Arizona State University diving duo of Head Coach Mark Bradshaw and junior diver Joona Puhakka have been named the 2005 NCAA Men's Diving Coach and Diver of the Year, respectively. Bradshaw guided Puhakka through a junior season that saw him earn two national titles, two Pac-10 titles and finish first in all but one springboard diving event. This is Bradshaw's second coach of the year accolade. He was recognized as the 2003 NCAA Men's Diving Coach of the Year following Puhakka's first national title on the one-meter springboard and a top-three finish on the three-meter event. This is the first national honor for Puhakka.
"It is such a great honor to be named National Diver of the Year," Puhakka said of the award. "It means even more that Mark was named National Coach of the Year as well because he truly is the best coach in the country and these honors recognize the hard work we put in all year."
"It's the most prestigious award a coach at this level can receive because it's voted on by my peers," Bradshaw said about his second NCAA Diving Coach of the Year award. "Receiving this award along side Joona is meaningful because it reflects the commitment to hard work on both our parts."
Under Bradshaw's tutelage, Puhakka became the first male student-athlete in school history to win two individual titles in the same year and the first athlete since 1995 to do the same. Puhakka reclaimed the NCAA title in the one-meter event, setting a NCAA and ASU record with a score of 421.05 to top the field by nearly 25 points. His score beat the previous school record he set en route to winning his first national title in 2003. Puhakka followed that up with a 645.20 in the finals of the three-meter springboard event, topping the competition by a little more than 14 points to defend his crown earned in 2004. Puhakka's exceptional NCAA meet saw him score 40 points to lead to the team's top-20 finish.
"It was some what of a relief to win both events," explained Puhakka. "It has been my goal since my freshman year. I've known all along that I could and I was finally able to accomplish it."
In addition to his national championships, Puhakka set personal bests in three events, beating is own school records in the one-meter and three-meter events. The native of Finland set school records in back-to-back meets against Stanford and California, setting the one-meter mark with a score of 403.58 and destroying his previous record by more than 51 points in the three-meter springboard with a score of 449.48.
Puhakka's junior season saw him claim first-place in all but one springboard event of the season, which includes both the one-meter and three-meter titles at the Pac-10 Championships and the one-meter and three-meter events at the Zone E Diving Championships. Puhakka's Pac-10 titles made conference history as he became the first man to win the Pac-10 title in the three-meter on three occasions and the first man to win three Pac-10 championships in the one-meter and three-meter events. His double championships at the NCAAs claimed another conference first as he became the first Pac-10 diver to win both the one-meter and three-meter NCAA titles in the same season.
Puhakka's resume now includes four national titles (one-meter, 2003, 2005; three-meter, 2004, 2005), six NCAA Zone E Diving Regional titles (one-meter, 2003, 2004, 2005; three-meter, 2003, 2004, 2005) and six Pac-10 Championships (one-meter, 2003, 2004, 2005; three-meter, 2003, 2004, 2005).
Puhakka returns next season for his final year at ASU and both Bradshaw and Puhakka expect similar results from the four-time national champion.
"Well Joona isn't satisfied with anything, he still thinks he hasn't accomplished everything," Bradshaw said of Puhakka. "Truthfully there isn't much more he can do as far as winning championships. He and I both feel he has yet to do his best diving. We will continue to tweak the little things that will help him get higher scores on all of his dives."
"I will put the same expectations on myself that I have every other year," said Puhakka. "Everyday I work to get better as an athlete and as a student."
Bradshaw's success this year was not confined to the men's side. He coached senior Trisha Tumlinson to a fourth-place finish at the NCAAs on the platform and saw her break the school record on the platform with a score of 471.80. Tumlinson also won the 2005 Pac-10 title Zone E Regional title on the platform. In his eight-year tenure at Arizona State University, Bradshaw has coached divers to 17 school records.
The success of the diving program this year shows the continued tradition of excellence that the Arizona State University swimming and diving program strives to maintain.
"National achievements such as these are good for how the swimming and diving program is perceived, a continued high level of commitment to excellence," explained Bradshaw. "It's good for the perception within the local community as well as from a recruiting standpoint."
Bradshaw's achievements in the coaching ranks come after an enormously successful competitive career. As a collegiate diver at Ohio State, he achieved All-American honors all four years on both the one-meter and three-meter, including an NCAA three-meter championship in 1983. Twice named a Big Ten Diver of the Year, Bradshaw has been a member of the Buckeye Hall of Fame since 1993.
The Springfield, Ore., native also experienced national and international success as a U.S. National Team member from 1981 to 1996. Bradshaw is a seven-time National Champion and was named the U.S. Diving/Phillips 66 Diver of the Year for 1990 and also the 1993 USOC Diver of the Year.
Bradshaw represented the United States at the highest level, the 1988 Olympics, where he placed fifth on the three-meter.