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The mission complete

By Donny Henn

dhenn@postbulletin.com

After investing four years of sweat equity in her college diving career, Erin Borgschatz was on a mission to go out at the top of her game.

And with a national title in 3-meter diving Saturday at the NCAA Division II National Swimming and Diving Championships, it was mission accomplished for the University of North Dakota diver and Rochester native.

Borgschatz, a 1999 Rochester John Marshall graduate, became the first female UND diver to win a national title when she finished with 425.25 points at UND's Hyslop Sports Center in Grand Forks, N.D.

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Borgschatz was second in the 1-meter competition last Thursday. The combined effort enabled the UND senior to garner the NCAA Division II Female Diver of the Year award from the College Swimming Coaches Association.

All year long

"All year long, I've been telling myself I want to win both boards at nationals," Borgschatz said. "It was my end goal for my diving career.

"But I didn't dive badly in the 1-meter, so I can't be disappointed."

Two months ago, Borgschatz was afraid that a much bigger mission would interfere with her personal vision quest.

Borgschatz, 22, is a member of the North Dakota Army National Guard. Her unit, the 142nd Engineer Battalion, based in Fargo, was called to active duty in the last week of January as part of the largest call-up of North Dakota guard soldiers in more than 40 years.

About 700 members of her unit were mobilized a week later and reported to Fort Carson, Colo., where they're training for war with Iraq.

"When I first found out, I thought that I was going," Borgschatz said. "I thought my diving career was over right there, and I wouldn't get to go to nationals.

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"At first, all I was thinking was how hard I had worked all year. I mean, I really busted my butt."

But Borgschatz also joined the Army's ROTC program last year, and she wasn't aware that decision would ultimately spare the end of her college diving career.

"The only reason I got to stay was that I'm still in training in the ROTC program," she explained. "They don't send people until they're done with their training."

Borgschatz said she felt guilty about staying behind when she went to the unit's station to say goodbye to her fellow guardsmen.

"It was tough; I felt like I wanted to go with them," she said. "It was scary.

"It really put things in a new perspective for me."

Diving into adulthood

Borgschatz didn't really get serious about competitive diving until she arrived at UND.

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Although longtime JM diving coach Rich Ballard instilled a love for the somewhat obscure sport, she only practiced two or three months out of the year in high school. She finished sixth at the state meet in her senior year.

Borgschatz said that UND coach Brian Strom helped her realize her diving potential. She became a six-time All-American at UND, with six top-eight finishes at national tournaments.

Borgschatz is a geology major and has a year of classes remaining before she graduates. She will probably help out with the diving team as a volunteer assistant coach, as long as she's around.

After that, Borgschatz will probably dive into a career with the Army.

"I have really developed a passion for the military," she said. "For me, it's more about the ideal: Who doesn't want to be a hero?"

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