Reaching New Heights

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, Utah Swimming and Diving August 26, 2016 in Salt Lake City, UT. (Photo / Steve C. Wilson / University of Utah)

Ute senior Josiah Purss is the first University of Utah diver to win Pac-12 Diver of the month since 2015.

Purss’ assent to the top of the conference has been a long and winding road. He began diving at the age of 13 in Australia, but after only four years he left the sport because of an injury. It wasn’t until he came to the United States and enrolled in college that he began diving again.

“I really missed the sport,” Purss said. “ I decided when I came across to the States to start diving again and I’ve been here ever since.”

In December, Purss was plagued again by injuries, which put his hopes for achieving high honors in jeopardy.

“Coming back in January from injury, I was pretty motivated to get back into the water and it just happened that a lot of the dual meets just worked out that I dove really well,” Purss said. “It worked out a lot better than I expected and I was able to put together some of the best meets that I’ve had in college.”

In the month of January, Purss was perfect in the 1M dive with wins at the UCLA Invitational, the Air Force Invitational and a dual meet against BYU. He also won the 3M against the Cougars while taking third in the other two meets. His performance in these events was enough to lift him to the top of Pac-12 diving, becoming only the second Ute to earn the honor.

“I was here in 2015 when my teammate won Diver of the Month,” Purss said. “At that moment, I set a goal for myself that I would win it at least once before the end of my senior season. I had been nominated for it a few timed during my time here, but never quite got where I needed to be, and then things just sort of worked out in January, and I was able to string together some wins.”

Head diving coach Richard Marschner said in a press release that it was exciting for Purss to earn this honor as a senior. Putting in a lot of work over his career, Marschner said that Purss has to to beat out some of the best divers in the nation in order to get this recognition.

“He’s peaking at the right time and we’re looking forward to seeing his best diving here at the end of the season,” Marschner said.

For Purss, the road to the NCAA Championships is laid out before him. With two podium finishes under his belt already along with Pac-12 Championships, he feels confident entering the tournament season.

“I’ve taken third the past three years at Pac-12’s,” he said. “My goal this year is to take the win in both the 1M and 3M.”

After the Pac-12 tournament, Purss will compete at the NCAA Zone E Championships, which is a qualifying event for the NCAA Championships taking place in late March.

Purss is no stranger to the NCAA Championships, competing every year he has been in school except for one, where a season-ending injury kept him sidelined for the majority of the year. While injuries have been common throughout his career, Purss’ desire to return to the pool always outweighs the thoughts of hanging up his suit, and leaving the board.

Purss hopes to compete in his fourth national championship this season, and with the confidence he has accrued by winning meet after meet and earning conference honors, he may even be setting the bar for himself low.

“My highest placing at NCAA’s is ninth and so my goal this time around is a top eight finish in both boards,” Purss said.

b.marshall@dailyutahchronicle.com

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