Gophers divers prep for NCAA Zones

by David Nelson

For senior diver Sarah McCrady, the difference between Big Ten champion and Big Ten runner-up came down to her final dive.

“I normally come in clutch on the last dive if I have to,” McCrady said.

McCrady and nine other Gophers divers will be looking for similar performances at the NCAA Zone D Diving Championships.

“This meet really is all about consistency,” senior Maggie Keefer said. “Not who can do the best dives.”

Keefer, coming off first- and second-place finishes at last month’s Big Ten meet, said practices leading up to this meet have focused on polishing the details.

Gophers junior Katy Etterman, sophomore Jessica Ramberg and freshman Lexi Tenenbaum join the two seniors to make up the women’s team.

Minnesota’s men’s team will enter the meet less than 10 days after competing at the Big Ten championships.

Though the turnaround could be hectic, Gophers diving coach Wenbo Chen said the experience of junior Erik Larsen, as well as sophomores Manny Pollard and Dylan Zoe, should help the other divers.

“[They’re familiar] with this kind of routine already,” Chen said. “It’s tough, definitely, but if you prepare for it, it shouldn’t be too big [of a challenge].”

Minnesota freshmen Matt Barnard and Nick Rodriguez will also compete.

Pollard, who placed ninth, sixth and third at the Big Ten meet, said he wants to make this his best meet of the season.

“It’s a lot different from freshman year,” Pollard said. “You want to do better than you did last year. If it is my last meet [of the season] … I would like it to be a good one.”