March 12, 2013
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NCAA Diving Zones Qualifiers
Freshmen Ariana Milone and Paige Greely, and sophomore Maxelise Thorn have extended their seasons and will now fight for a spot at the NCAA Championships. The trio each earned scores throughout the season which qualified them for NCAA Diving Zones.
CSU participates in Zone E, which takes place Thursday-Saturday, at the Air Force Academy's Cadet Natatorium. A full schedule of events can be found on Page 3.
"It's a new experience for all three divers," head diving coach Kevin Witt said. "We have two freshmen and a redshirt sophomore. It's an experience-building meet for all of them, but I'm expecting that they'll do well. All three have been working hard, and they seem excited. I think they'll be ready to compete.
In order to qualify for NCAA Diving Zones, a diver must have reached a certain score in an event during the season. The standards are 265 points on the 1-meter boards, 280 on the 3-meter boards and 225 on the towers. Greely held CSU's top score on 1-meter jumps, totaling 278.33 on Feb. 2 at Air Force. Milone held three of CSU's top-five times (277.73), while Thorn also qualified on the 1-meter boards (268.05). On the 3-meter dives, Milone held five scores that earned qualifying totals, including 316.73 in her first collegiate competition, at Denver on Oct. 20. Paige also qualified on the 3-meter boards, scoring a 285.45 on Jan. 19 at Northern Arizona.
By qualifying in one event, each athlete is eligible to compete in all three at the Championships. However, the Rams have decided to focus on the springboard events, and likely will not have someone compete on the towers.
"We qualified on springboards, so that's what we're focusing on," Witt said. "Those are the events that we do here during the season."
Similar to the competition season, each athlete will have six dives that combine for a cumulative score in the prelims. The top 18 in the springboard events, and the top 12 on the towers, will move on to the finals, with the best three scores earning a trip to the NCAA Championships. Different from the season, however, will be that a diver's prelim score and finals score will be combined.
"I've been helping them with how the meet works," Witt said. The scoring is a little different, but it's very similar to our conference meet with the prelims and the finals."
The five diving zones across the nation give qualifying athletes a chance to move on to the NCAA Championships. Zone E is allotted nine spots at the Championships with three athletes from each of the events moving on--1-meter boards, 3-meter boards and platform. If a diver finishes in the top three of multiple events, the next-best score will instead be taken, assuring that nine different athletes advance to the Championships.
Tough competition for a young squad
Compared to last season, and the squads of its peers, CSU is bringing a very young team. The two freshmen and one sophomore have made a huge impact on the program already, meaning a very promising future for Rams diving. As for this weekend, it means a great opportunity is in front of them to gain experience and confidence diving with some of the best in the nation.
"My goal is to get as many of them into the finals as we can," Witt said. "I think that would be a great accomplishment because it's a particularly difficult zone. We'll have former NCAA champions and even some Olympians at our meet, so it's not going to be easy by any stretch."
With three athletes from CSU competing, it is the largest group competing since 2005. The Rams are tied with Nevada for second-most divers qualified in the Mountain West.
The young team's nerves should be calmed by the familiar boards at Air Force's Cadet Natatorium. The team has already competed in two events at the Academy this season. These boards have been good to the Rams, as Greely set her top score in 1-meter diving during CSU's most recent visit to Air Force.
"We've been to this pool a couple times already this season, so it's a familiar environment. The rest of our conference will be there, so we'll know people there, as well," Witt said.
Fans of CSU swimming & diving can get all the latest news on CSU's athletic website, www.CSURams.com. Additionally, fans can real-time updates by following the Rams on Twitter: @CSUswimming. Live results can be found at divemeets.com.