It was a tough start for new ASU men's diving coach Marc Briggs as he did not have any divers on the roster when he took the job in September of 2021. He started as a volunteer for the team, and when he was named head coach, he had to do heavy recruiting to make up his roster.
There were pros and cons to starting over and building a new squad, but Briggs said he has mainly dealt with cons. Having to join the recruiting process was difficult, but he gathered a group of divers ready to compete for the 2022-23 season.
Three of them contribute to the large freshmen class that the swim and dive team brought on this year. The six divers have extensive backgrounds ranging from competing in state championships from their high schools to making it to the NCAAs before transferring to ASU.
"Getting to pick and develop my own squad was something I really enjoyed," Briggs said.
Transfers Zachory Lundgren and Thomas Wesche helped Briggs out when they came to ASU at the end of the 2021-22 season in January and brought a sense of leadership to the young team. The juniors lead by example, and he said the freshmen watch what they do to follow suit.
"The freshmen are diving strong and keeping up the pace with the veterans," Briggs said.
Lundgren transferred from the University of Hawaii, and Wesche came from Grand Canyon University.
"Being able to have them on the team as transfers mid-year was a huge sigh of relief," Briggs said.
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the team heavily. Former coach Mark Bradshaw retired, two divers graduated, and there was one who had a year remaining; however, the whole squad redshirted due to the pandemic.
"When they decided to boot diving back up, there was no one who was currently on the team," Briggs said.
Now Briggs has a team of six divers, four men and two women. It's the first time since the 2018-19 season that ASU has had both a men's and a women's team.
Freshman Amayah Wiley is one of the women impacting the dive team. She was the Arizona High School State Champion for her 1-meter dive. When she was younger, Wiley would come to watch the meets, and she grew up as a Sun Devil fan.
"It's exciting that I am starting a new generation, especially with a new coach," Wiley said.
For Briggs, having two female divers is fantastic for the team. He said it builds on the team chemistry, and they can push each other better. Briggs also plans to add one more member to the team next season.
Junior Ashlyn Kirsch, a walk-on this year, came in after not diving competitively for two years. Briggs believes she is not at the level of the others right now, but she has done everything she is asked of.
Briggs found this undiscovered talent after reaching out to several coaches to see if anyone at ASU had prior diving experience. He got in touch with a coach from a swim club in Scottsdale where Kirsch dove.
After being in contact, Kirsch decided to dive into college, and she made her Sun Devil debut against Wisconsin for the 2022-23 home opener of the season.
For the men's team, a freshman with a familiar last name is also a new addition to the six divers on the roster. Lane Stallworth joins his brother, Jackson Stallworth, as a Sun Devil athlete for the ASU swim and dive team.
"The Stallworth boys are back together doing the same thing we did in high school, which has been pretty great." Lane said.
When they did not have a dive team, his brother was the first to tell Lane that they would soon announce the new head coach for the dive team. The moment they found out his name, he emailed the coach.
The next day they announced it, Lane was already on a phone call with Briggs, and now he said he had never been closer to his brother.
After heavy recruiting and starting with nothing, this team is now stacked with a diverse group of divers ranging from transfers leading the team, freshmen making up the young talent, and a walk-on adding to the competition.
ASU's next meet is November 4 in Los Angeles, when the Sun Devils will take on USC, and its next home meet will be in January 2023.
Edited by Walker Smith, David Rodish and Grace Copperthite.