Mar 062005
Authors: Justin Shaw

When most college freshmen set foot on campus, they concentrate mainly on getting good grades and meeting new people. However, the three freshmen on the CSU swimming and diving team also made an athletic impact immediately.

Elyse Hall, Karin Knudson and Amber Utesch have had the responsibility of helping lead the Rams' diving team this season, as they make up half of the six-person team. These three freshmen have held their own against Mountain West Conference opposition in their first season.

Hall is from Mesa, Ariz., where she earned all-state diving honors at Dobson High School from 2001-2003. Hall said that collegiate competition is much more team-oriented than high school and the meets are quicker than they used to be. Hall, an open-option biomedical science major, has lofty goals for her CSU career.

"I want to be in the top three in the conference and qualify for the NCAA zones," Hall said.

She said her favorite memory from this season was when the team got to jump off of the 10-meter board at the Air Force Academy.

"It was a good time for us all," she said.

Hall enjoys watching or playing other sports, and her favorite TV shows when she wants to relax are "Friends" and "The O.C."

Knudson attended Estes Park High School and achieved just about everything she possibly could have. Such accomplishments included leading her school to four state championships in swimming and diving and being a member of the National Honor Society as well as the Spanish Honor Society.

Knudson can feel the pressure of college competition compared to high school.

"Everything just means more and every detail is more important," Knudson said.

Knudson also wants to qualify for the NCAA Zone E Regionals before her time is up at CSU and wants to be in the top five in the conference.

As for this season, Knudson fondly recalls the team renting kayaks in Miami during training camp.

"The training camp helped us bond as a team and it gave us a chance to have some fun in between working," Knudson said.

Knudson, a biochemistry major, likes to go to movies and read books when she is not in the pool. At home, she likes to watch designer shows such as "Trading Spaces" while enjoying her favorite food, chocolate cake.

Last, but not least, is Utesch. Utesch is also from Colorado and attended Air Academy High School is Colorado Springs. She earned varsity letters in diving all four years while there and also made the principal's honor roll.

Utesch said that college diving differs from high school in that there are no officials and the coaches do the judging instead. Utesch said it didn't take much for the team to mesh together this year.

"The whole team gets along for the most part. At the beginning of the year, the freshmen knew each other better because we had classes together, but the team has blended nicely," Utesch said,

Utesch, a health and exercise science major, likes to go to youth groups in her spare time and watches "American Idol." She keeps in touch with her family on a daily basis and her goal in diving is to just "get better every year and have fun."

While none of the divers qualified for the NCAA Zone E Regionals this year, the three freshmen have contributed in a big way for the Rams this season and will continue to lead the way in the future of the program.

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