Aug. 4, 2005
Two-time All-American. Academic-All American of the Year. Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor recipient. Two-time Big Ten Champion. Only a select few student-athletes can call this entire list their own. Ohio State diver Mitch Richeson can call all of these honors, plus quite a few more, his own. On Monday, he’ll leave for Izmir, Turkey for the 2005 World University Games where he will try and add another item to his already long list of accomplishments. Having just exhausted his eligibility with Ohio State, the accomplishments he achieved both athletically and academically present a highlight of the success Richeson brought to himself and to Ohio State during his time representing the Scarlet and Gray and provide a solid base for a promising future in academics and diving.
Richeson has not put a stop to his diving aspirations after his four years of eligibility with Ohio State expired. He was selected to compete for the United States at the 2005 World University Games in Izmir, Turkey by a selection committee that looked at both his collegiate and national experience. Departing Monday, he will compete in the 3-meter on Aug. 15 and in the 1-meter on Aug. 17.
“It’s my second major international meet, so I’m still on a novice level,” Richeson said. “It will be good to get the experience and it will be great to represent the U.S. again.”
The event is not only a chance to represent his country, but also a chance to improve his diving skills both mentally and physically.
“Part of a diver’s development comes from exposure to international competitions and competitors,” Ohio State diving coach Vince Panzano said. “Mitch competed in China in March following NCAAs and then in May he went to Ft. Lauderdale to compete with the most elite international divers. The World University Games is another opportunity for him to travel the world and see some more of these international divers. It allows him to realize that he is right there with the best of the world, and sometimes that is what is most important. The physical aspect plays a role, but also going to these competitions and seeing he is within the best in the world will help to give him confidence and improve for the future.” While at Ohio State, Richeson brought amazing heights to the Ohio State diving program right from the start of his freshman year. He took a first-place finish against Maryland and Virginia Tech in his first meet in 2001. Scoring 310.60 points on the 1-meter board, Richeson set the season-best score for the team at the time. He continued to contribute to the Buckeyes’ dual-meets with second- and third-place finishes in both the 1-meter and the 3-meter. He opened his first Big Ten conference meet with a third-place finish in the 1-meter and an eighth-place finish in the 3-meter. Not bad for a freshman.
Richeson returned for a break-out sophomore year. During the dual-meet season, Richeson had eight first-place finishes and four second-place finishes. He was awarded Big Ten Diver of the Week honors following a win at the Tennessee Diving Invitational, where he also set the team’s season-high score in both the 1-meter and 3-meter events. At his second conference meet, Richeson was named second team All-Big Ten after posting a second-place finish in the 3-meter and a third-place finish in the 1-meter events. Building on this success, he went on to claim the 1-meter springboard at the Zone Regional Qualifying championships and earn a bid to his first NCAA championship meet. At the end of the season, Richeson was awarded the Buckeyes’ Coaches Award for his success.
“My first year at NCAAs, I wasn’t sure how I would do,” Richeson said. “I did not really know what the competition was so I was not confident in myself. I was shaky and most of the time I was star gazing going `They’re so good, they’re so good, they’re so good.’ I started concentrating on that, not the competition, and so I bombed.”
Richeson returned the following season, using his first trip to nationals as an experience to build upon and his accomplishments in the pool continued to accumulate. Following a successful dual-meet season, winning every 1-meter competition he competed in, Richeson competed in his third Big Ten championship meet. He opened the meet with a second-place finish in the 1-meter springboard. The following night, he was crowned the 2004 Big Ten Champion in the 3-meter event. His score of 653.75 broke the Big Ten meet record. For his performance, he was named First Team All-Big Ten and named the Big Ten Diver of the Year. Following zone regional qualifying championships, Richeson made his second appearance at the NCAA championships. Finishing sixth and 19th in the 1- and 3-meter events, respectively, Richeson earned his first All-America honor. Following the season, the Buckeye squad awarded him the Miller Anderson Award as the best diver on the Buckeye squad. During the summer, Richeson earned a spot at the 2004 United States Olympic Trials, and went on to place second in the 3-meter at the United States Senior National competition.
For his final season as a Buckeye, Richeson continued to dominate the boards in dual-meets, taking 11 of the springboards including six in the 1-meter event, and was named Big Ten Diver of the Week twice. He opened his final Big Ten meet with a bang, taking his second Big Ten individual title in the 1-meter on the first day of competition. He followed the win with a second-place in the 3-meter and was, for the second time, awarded first team All-Big Ten honors. Taking the 1-meter board and placing second in the 3-meter at the zone regional championships allowed Richeson to qualify for his third, and final, NCAA championships. There, Richeson earned his second All-America honor with a seventh-place finish in the 1-meter event and an eighth-place finish in the 3-meter event. Once again, the Buckeyes awarded the senior the Miller Anderson Award for his success during his final season.
“My senior year at nationals was a whole different ballgame,” Richeson said. “I knew going in that I was going to be part of that final group, so I had the confidence. I made the finals in both events, which I had expected. When finals came I just put it all on the line and I finaled in both events I competed it. I earned All-American honors in each event, which I thought was good.”
Richeson’s accomplishments, however, do not rest solely in the diving well. He has earned numerous and prestigious accolades for his success in the classroom as well. Every year of his collegiate career, Richeson was named an OSU Scholar-Athlete, and the final three years of his career the Big Ten named him to the Academic All-Big Ten team. Following his junior and senior years, he was an Academic All-American honoree, making him only the third swimmer or diver in Ohio State history to be awarded the honor twice.
“It’s great to have my academic accomplishments recognized,” Richeson said. “I feel like I’ve experienced all of college. Some students come in and just want to be athletes, but I made sure I took advantage of the time I had here. I like to know that I conquered both the athletic end of it and the academic end.”
Following his senior year of competition, the diver’s success in the classroom was prestigiously honored. With a 3.98 GPA, Richeson was awarded the Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor, awarded to one male and one female of each Big Ten school according to both academic and athletic achievements. Richeson’s success in the classroom singled himself out to not only the Big Ten, but nationally as well. He was named the At-Large Team Academic All-American of the Year to go along with Academic All-America honors.
Richeson plans to continue his diving on a national level, taking aim at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. Already, he has started to make this goal a reality.
“I’m currently on a pre-Olympic team. It has about 25 kids from all around the United States, and it is basically to develop a group to pick from for the next Olympics. I’m going to keep diving and go for the 2008 Olympics. I’m going to stay around Columbus and Ohio State, though. Right now I’m training in the national training center in Indianapolis, but I have got a good rapport with Vince (Panzano) and along with the new facility, I think it will be good to stay.”
Coach Panzano looks at Richeson’s role on the pre-Olympic team not only as a stepping stone to the Olympics, but also as the United States’ way of recognizing the impact Richeson could have representing his country.
“Over the next three years, if he continues to improve like he is currently then he is going to be one of the top two or three choices for diving in 2008,” Panzano said. “The Olympic Medal Program selects the people they think have the biggest chance of medaling in the Olympics and helps them to develop themselves. So, our country has already recognized the impact Mitch could have.”
His academic success has not been put on hold, either. Richeson is currently pursuing both his bachelor’s degree while working towards his master’s in a specially developed program. He plans to graduate next spring with a bachelor’s degree in computer science engineering.