For many, transitioning to college is like a cannonball dive. You plunge into the cold waters and just hope that the undercurrent doesn’t pull you down.
For others, it’s akin to attempting an inward one-and-one-half with a double twist, knowing that a panel of judges sits ready to critique every contortion of your body.
The latter is the case for Andrew Bologna and Trent Hagenbuch, brave individuals who will share the exclusive burden of comprising Penn men’s diving, a tall task to ask of two freshmen.
With these two newcomers constituting the entire team, the Quakers boast the youngest diving contingent in the Ivy League. In addition, Penn also shares the title of having the smallest diving team with Columbia, which also only carries two divers.
The anomaly of having an all-freshman squad came out of necessity for the Red and Blue. After leading the diving team for the past two seasons, junior Jack Stein has been restricted to the sidelines with an ankle injury.
“[Jack] really did everything last year that he possibly could,” diving coach Rob Cragg said. “He sometimes dove with almost tears in his eyes, it hurt so bad.”
Now, the daunting task of capturing the 38 available points in each meet’s diving events will fall to Bologna and Hagenbuch. But the two seem unphased by the responsibilities laid out before them.
“It’s pretty great,” Hagenbuch said. “We have the chance to make an impact on the team coming in as freshmen.”
“Coming from a high school that was very competitive, we were always expected to win states,“ Bologna added. “So I was always expected to perform well, and it’s going to be the same thing here.”
This optimism, however, should not be rejected as naive hubris: Bologna and Hagenbuch come to Sheerr Pool with their fair share of accomplishments. Both divers have seen great success with not only their respective high school teams but on national circuits as well.
Hagenbuch took home second place in the Ohio state diving championships his junior and senior years, which nicely complements an AAU national title in the 3-meter competition in 2014.
In his home state of Connecticut, Bologna stands as the two-time reigning champion, a feat that earned him two All-America nominations.
For these reasons, Cragg has no qualms with expressing praise for either of his divers.
“Having Andrew and Trent come in is a major deal,” Cragg said. “They’re going to be a big part of the team [as] two viable participants that can compete with anyone in the Ivy League.”
And while there may not be another Red and Blue diver competing alongside them, Bologna and Hagenbuch have found no shortage of senior leadership to welcome them to Penn.
Stein continues to make his presence felt as an assistant coach, providing invaluable insight on the transition to collegiate competition. The upperclassmen divers on the women’s side have stepped into that role as well — practices are jointly run, and the team chemistry clearly transcends the gender gap.
“The new guys are definitely going to carry on the legacy of Penn diving,” Stein said. “They’ve got a lot of talent, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do this year.”
But for all that support, during practices and come competition time, what will best motivate Bologna is Hagenbuch and what will best motivate Hagenbuch is Bologna. While they are first and foremost partners, the natural competition that comes between teammates — particularly newcomers both looking to make a name for themselves — has the potential to push them to their limits.
With four years ahead of them both, only time can tell which freshman will make the biggest splash. But what is certain is that Penn diving will not settle for anything but the pair’s best.
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