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DIVING / SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA INVITATIONAL : Mission Viejo's Sorgi Offers a Glimpse of Her Potential


MISSION VIEJO — The guard didn't change, but it did look over its shoulder once or twice.

Erica Sorgi, a 4-foot-7, 75-pound diver, will be a sixth-grader at Mission Viejo's Castillo Elementary this fall. At the Southern California Invitational Diving meet Saturday afternoon, at the Marguerite International Swimming and Diving Complex. Sorgi put the entire senior women's field on notice with her performance in the three-meter competition.

Sorgi, who turned 11 Friday, usually dives in the 13-under girls' competition. But on her coaches urging, she hoped to crack the top 12 in her first-ever senior event.

She was fourth.

Simi Valley's Nancy Janik, 32, came from behind to win with 435.90 points. The Mission Viejo Nadadores' Amy Sloan, who attends El Toro High, led the competition through six of the 10 rounds, but Janik took the lead in the eighth round on a high-scoring reverse 2 1/2.

Sloan was second (430.25) and Nadadores' teammate Sandy Zubrin, the two-time Division II Southern Section champion from Corona del Mar High, was third (429.15).

"I'm pretty surprised," said Sorgi, whose 422.95 point total could have been better had her degree of difficulty been higher.

But in her age-group competition, Sorgi is only required to do eight dives--two less than required in senior competition. Sorgi simply ran out of difficult dives to score points.

"It wasn't important where she finished, it was important for her to get experience against older divers" Nadadore Coach Hongping Li said.

Sorgi was reluctant when her coach first suggested she test the senior waters, but once she got over the initial jitters, she had fun.

"Less pressure," she said.

Li considers Sorgi an exceptional talent not only because of her physical abilities, but also because she is driven like no other 11-year-old he knows.

"She is very self disciplined and has set high goals for herself," he said.

So had the spectators, who cheered her every move. Whenever it was Sorgi's turn, the crowd would quiet, watch, then roar its approval. They were especially appreciative on her sixth and seventh dives, a back 2 1/2 and a reverse 2 1/2, on which she scored high enough to pull into second place after eight rounds.

Janik, a national team member who quit diving from 1988-91, enjoyed watching Sorgi.

"I was really impressed," she said. "I'm excited for her."

The Nadadores' Brian Earley won the men's senior one-meter event in his first meet since the Olympic trials one year ago.

Earley, who injured his lower back during the trials and was a redshirt his senior year at USC, finished with 533.40 points. Ricky Wood of Rose Bowl Aquatics was second (526.50) and teammate David Fleck was third (508.45). Mission Viejo's Tyce Routson was fourth (470.45).

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