All three University of Tennessee women's divers who were competing at the NCAA Zone B Championships earned spots in the NCAA Championships field on Saturday at Gabrielsen Natatorium at the University of Georgia. It marks the first time since 1997 that three Lady Vols will dive at the NCAA Championships.
Sophomore Jaime Sanger became the first to earn a position at the national championships as she finished fourth on the 1-meter springboard during the morning competition. She automatically earned a place as one of the 11 divers from Zone B to advance as she tallied a mark of 272.60. Teammate senior Lizzy Flynt finished sixth with a score of 263.10 to narrowly miss punching her ticket to the NCAAs. Freshman Kylee Wells finished 23rd with a tally of 226.45.
Sanger made the event dramatic by sitting in a tie for sixth entering the final round of dives with only the top four in the 1-meter advancing to the NCAAs. She had a strong final dive and moved past three competitors, including 2000 Olympian Michelle Davidson, to finish fourth overall.
By virtue of her fourth-place finish, Jaime automatically qualified for the NCAAs, Tennessee diving coach Dave Parrington said. We are all very excited and she is ecstatic. She didn't dive as well as she could have, but she did an extremely solid job and did what she needed to do to qualify.
The excitement was not over for the Lady Vols. Flynt and Wells, both platform specialists, needed to finish in the top three on the tower in order to earn the right to compete at the NCAAs. Flynt, the defending Zone B platform champion, earned her second title in the event and coasted to a first-place finish with a score of 465.45. Wells made things a little more interesting as she had a miss on her second dive, but rebounded to move through the field and into a second-place finish. She tallied a score of 417.20 in her first NCAA Zone B competition. Sanger, who already had her position secure, finished 12th with a total of 315.85.
This is kind of the way that I envisioned it working this weekend, Parrington said. I would have definitely liked for Kylee and Lizzy to qualify on the springboards, but with the way things have gone this season, I had a feeling it would come down to the platform and they came through when they needed to.
The Vol divers likewise had a good weekend in Athens.
Seniors Gabi Chereches and Shannon Roy captured the top two spots in the 3-meter springboard event and Chereches took the platform diving title. Sophomore Jake Dorsey finished 10th in the platform as well.
Chereches, who won a spot in the NCAA meet yesterday with a fifth-place finish in the 1-meter springboard event, scored 598.15 to take first-place in the three-meter event. Roy, who finished ninth in the 1-meter event, posted a score of 591.90 to finish in second place and guarantee his spot at the NCAA meet.
Gabi and Shannon had an outstanding day finishing first and second on the 3-meter board just as they did at the conference championships, Parrington said. They dominated the field and I was quite pleased with their performance.
At the SEC Championships last month, Roy took the conference 3-meter title while Chereches finished in second place.
Chereches also won the platform event on Saturday evening. The three-time SEC Platform Diving champ scored 603.65 points to easily outdistance the competition.
All qualifying Vol and Lady Vol divers will compete at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships in East Meadow, N.Y., from March 15-17.