Call-Leader Sports Editor
Oh baby! Their baby is going to the Olympics.

Like expectant parents, Ned and Marian Dunnichay waited and waited, then waited some more, this morning to learn if their youngest child, 15-year-old Mary Beth, had been selected for the United States Olympic Diving Team.

“Yes, it is like having a baby, only worse,” Marian said while awaiting an email from USA Diving officials. “With a baby, you’re sure of the outcome, a boy or a girl.”
They learned the outcome shortly after 11 this morning when the email arrived just as Mary Beth received a call from her coach, John Wingfield.
Even Wingfield, also chosen as the head coach of the U.S. team for the Beijing Olympics, teased her for a moment before sharing the good news.
“He called me and he said, ‘Have you heard anything yet?’,” said Mary Beth.
“I said, ‘Not yet, but I’ve been sitting by the computer.’
“So he said, “OK, well I’ll send you the email that I got.’
“He just sounded normal, and I was like, ‘Well, is it bad or good; give me a hint.
“And he goes, ‘Well, what do you want me to say?’
“And I was like, ‘Uh oh…’
“And then he just said, ‘You’re an Olympian,’ and I started crying.”
Her family members and friends heard her cry in the hallway outside the office where they were awaiting the news, and not knowing if they were tears of joy or disappointment, rushed to her side.
At that moment, older brother Caleb and her father saw the email on the computer screen.
“There it is. There it is,” said Ned. “She made it; she made the team.”
Dunnichay and fellow 15-year-old Haley Ishimatsu will represent the U.S. as the women’s 10-meter platform synchronized team in Beijing.
The Olympics run from Aug. 8-24. The diving competition will be from Aug. 10-23.
Dunnichay and Ishimatsu will compete Saturday, Aug. 12, probably in front of 30 or more family members and friends who are making plans to join her in Beijing.
Mary Beth is the first Olympian from Elwood, and quite possibly from all of Madison County.
“I got chills, lots of chills when I saw that (email),” said her father.
“We’re crying, we’re laughing, everything,” said her mother. “Mary Beth has put in so much hard work, sacrificed the nights when she couldn’t go do stuff with her friends, having to get up early for practice, and miss (her brother’s) ballgames. She’s had to sacrifice so many things.
Everyone of them was worth it, said the 5-foot Olympian, who won’t turn 16 until Feb. 25, 2009.
“This is just awesome,” Mary Beth said after drying the tears. “But it was so stressful waiting for that (email and call) this morning.
“My mom wanted me to get up early and come (to the Dunnichay Funeral Home) early, but I didn’t want to get here too early and just have to sit around and wait. I wanted to sleep in to the last minute possible.”
She got there shortly before 10 a.m., because that’s when the family expected the email to arrive.
At about 10:15, they got in touch by phone with Wingfield, who told them the announcement wouldn’t come until 11.
Some of the family went out for breakfast, then returned to wait some more.
“When they pushed it back, it meant just a longer wait,” said Mary Beth. Something akin to her and Ishimatsu standing on the platform for 45 minutes last Wednesday while computer problems delayed the competition at selection camp in Knoxville, Tenn.
That’s the night the Olympians went 1-2 against their top competition for the Beijing spots, Laura Wilkinson and Jessica Livingston.
But in Friday’s final competition, Dunnichay and Ishimatsu hit their five dives for an all-time best of 346.98, beating Wilkinson and Livingston’s 335.34.
That 2-2 deadlock after four lists left it up to the selectors to decide the Olympic synchro team.
“We knew it could have gone the other way (the decision),” said Mary Beth. “The first day, they won the two out of the three, so we had one more chance on Friday.
“We had one more chance to prove that we not only could dive under pressure, but that we deserved our spot. And we went in there and stayed calm and confident and we proved to everyone, I guess.”
The family didn’t have any doubts, but they were doing everything they could to avoid jinxing the outcome until this morning.
“For everything my family has been through with me, taking me to practice everyday, going to my competitions, just always being there, it’s finally paying off. Like I said, it’s just awesome.”
She gets today and Tuesday off, then it’s back in the pool Wednesday at the IU Natatorium.
Before the Olympics, the divers may compete in the U.S. Nationals July 22-27 in Pasadena, Calif.
“We haven’t talked about that yet, so I don’t know yet,” said Dunnichay.
She does know where she and her family and friends will be tonight at 7. On an Elwood fire truck for a parade through town, starting at the high school.
City officials are encouraging residents to gather at the high school before 7 to form a caravan behind the fire truck, or for residents to line Anderson Street to the south edge of the city to celebrate with the Dunnichays, whose baby is going to the Olympics.