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Master Diver

By Shawn Fury

Seton Hall diver Quinn Murtha took an unusual path on his way to Division I success. Unlike student-athletes who get courted by dozens of colleges, the Georgia native says, “I never really took diving that seriously. I was just going to be done after my senior year. And then I think my guidance counselor at high school sent my email out to places.”

While most athletes express supreme confidence, Murtha quips that when he arrived at Seton Hall, “I thought I was going to be significantly worse than every other kid.” And during competitions, instead of pumping himself up by listening to hard rock or hip-hop, Murtha would put on “Silly Love Songs” by Paul McCartney and Wings, a decidedly laid-back recording.

Yet all the quirkiness, self-deprecation and humor can’t disguise this fact: In two seasons, Murtha established himself as one of the finest divers in Seton Hall history.

At the 2023 BIG EAST Championship, Murtha captured the 1- and 3-meter titles. He became the first Pirate to win those events since Ben Mitchell ’15. Nobody understands the secrets to Murtha’s success more than Mitchell and not only because he was a great diver himself — he’s also his coach.

“Quinn is not going to refuse a lot of stuff that you tell him to do, and he will always be moving at like 130 percent and just working hard the whole time,” Mitchell says.

“The reason he’s really good is he has the upper hand in most diving events, especially in the 1-meter, because his DD, or degree of difficulty, he has a step above because he’s got two dives that are generally harder than the rest of the field that he can put down really well. So he always has a little bit of an advantage.”

Murtha says that in his sophomore year, “I tried to pick my battles more strategically. Freshman year, I was just like, ‘All right, let’s go for the hardest thing that I can possibly do.’ And especially at a conference meet, you mess up one dive, you’re probably not going to win. So this year I found the right balance.”

Everything came together at the BIG EAST meet. On the opening day of competition, Murtha put up a score of 569.75 to take top honors in the 1-meter event. Two days later he sealed his BIG EAST Men’s Most Outstanding Diver award by winning the 3-meter event with 613.80 points. Entering the competition, Murtha felt confident, considering his standout performances during the season — especially a memorable home meet against Georgetown that his family attended, which saw him win two events and achieve a qualifying score for an NCAA zone championship. But when the BIG EAST meet arrived, “I got there on the first day and I was watching warmups and everybody was doing really well and I was like, oh, this might be harder than I thought. I went from thinking I would be able to get first, second, third to I could end up in eighth or ninth.”

Instead Murtha cruised to the two championships, matching his coach’s mark from eight years earlier. And with two years left at Seton Hall, Murtha isn’t done being compared with Mitchell, whose name dominates the Pirates’ record book. Find a record, you’ll find Mitchell’s name. For now, at least. “He could possibly take down my 1-meter six-dive record,” Mitchell says. “I think he’s gotten pretty close before, but he just needs a couple changes to his list. He is more than capable of doing it.” Mitchell notes with a laugh, “A lot of people ask me, ‘What are you going to do when he breaks your record?’ And I’m like, OK, first of all, if anyone’s breaking my record, it’s going to be under my watch.”

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