Newton’s Mahoney on world diving stage in Australia

Newton teen Gracia Leydon Mahoney will step onto junior diving’s biggest stage early next month as a member of Team USA.

The 16-year-old Mahoney, who has qualified on the 1- and 3-meter boards, left Thursday for the FINA Junior World Championships in Adelaide, Australia.

The event, which will take place Oct. 8 through 13, is held every two years and is divided into two age groups, 14-15 and 16-18. The 2010 World Juniors were held in Tucson.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

It’s been a whirlwind year for Mahoney, the only female competitor to reach the finals on both the 3- and 10-meter boards at the US Olympic diving trials in Seattle in June (she was seeded seventh).

The top two finishers on each board qualified for the London Olympics.

“Watching the Olympic games was inspiring, and I’m definitely looking forward to 2016,’’ said Mahoney, who transferred in January from Newton North High to Durham Academy in North Carolina, where she is a junior.

Mahoney trains with Drew Johansen,  diving coach at Duke University, and, when she is back home in Newton, with Tracey Bird at the Beede Center in Concord.

“Drew and Tracey have made me a better diver,” said Mahoney, who will be with her teammates in the Australian outback prior to the championships. “I’ve gotten physically stronger and I’m more confident after experiencing a higher level of competition.

“It’s the biggest junior competition there is, and it’s an honor to represent my country,’’ added Mahoney, who was accompanied by her mother, Patricia Leydon.   “I’m looking forward to having fun, doing my best, and the results will take care of themselves.’’

The fun part, she said, is the friends she’s made through diving from all over the world, including Great Britain, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, and Italy.

Mahoney punched her two-event ticket to Adelaide at the US Junior Nationals in Greensboro, N.C., in early August. She earned gold on the 1-meter board and was the combined (preliminary and finals) winner at 3 meters.

Ten days later, she captured gold again, on the 3-meter board at US Senior Nationals, also held in Greensboro.

This will be her second shot at the World Juniors.

In Tucson, she was fifth on the 10-meter platform and eighth on the 1-meter springboard. She also had a taste of international competition at last year’s Pan-Am Junior Diving Championships in Colombia, winning the 3-meter competition and placing fourth in the 1-meter.

Mahoney, who also has a gymnastics background, started competing at age 9 for the Charles River Diving team.

Bonicontro honored for UMass Lowell play

Former Marlborough High star Bruno Bonicontro is putting together a stellar senior season for the men’s soccer team at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Bonicontro, for the second time in three weeks, was named Northeast-10 Conference Men’s Soccer Player of the Week for the surging River Hawks, who were 7-0-1 overall and a perfect 6-0 in conference play prior to Saturday’s contest with LeMoyne.

It is the best start in the program’s modern era (post-1975), boosting the River Hawks to eighth in the Division 2 national rankings.

Bonicontro had a team-high six goals and 14 points through seven games this fall.

He had four assists as a freshman, battled through an injury-shortened sophomore season, and bounced back with three goals and six assists last fall.

“Bruno put in a lot of work in the offseason and it’s paying off,’’ said his head coach, Christian Figueroa. “He’s more aggressive and faster, and his understanding of his teammates’ moves has improved,’’ Figueroa said. “Technically, what impresses me the most is how smooth and sharp he is at full speed.

“Bruno had a quad injury two years ago and played just eight games but was never at 100 percent, and that was his motivation to come back and contribute.’’

Bonicontro is joined on the River Hawks roster by two local players, both juniors — former Marlborough High teammate Vinicius Linces and Holliston High graduate Jesse Shaffer-Hines,  a backup goalkeeper.

“Vinny has improved dramatically and we trust him to help us at several positions, and Jesse shows improvement every week,’’ Figueroa said.

Campus achievers

Framingham State University junior outside hitter Andressa Fernandes (Keefe Tech) was named Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference Volleyball Player of the Week after averaging 15.8 kills and 9.3 digs in a 3-1 week for the Rams. . .  New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference weekly honorees included Babson College sophomore Alex Freeman and junior Sarah Whitaker in women’s tennis, and Babson senior forward Amy Festa (women’s soccer). Freeman and Whitaker were 4-1 at first doubles for the Beavers, who were 5-0 as a team. Festa scored three goals, including the game-winners for Babson against both Framingham State and WPI. She and Freeman are from Medfield. . . The Commonwealth Coast Conference recognized Lexington’s Max Swanson as Cross-Country Rookie of the Week. Competing for Gordon College, Swanson had a personal best 8K time of 28:35 at the Elms Invitational, and was ninth among 98 runners. . . . Salve Regina senior midfielder Bobby Ernst of Needham was the CCC’s Offensive Player of the Week for men’s soccer. His winning overtime goal made the difference against previously undefeated University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. Ernst also scored the first goal in a 2-1 overtime dispatching of Western New England. He was also the ECAC Player of the Week. . .  Endicott College senior Ashley Norley of Sudbury was the conference’s Libero of the Week in women’s volleyball after registering 15 or more digs in five matches, including two 27-dig performances.