March 14, 2008
AUBURN - Auburn sophomore Dan Mazzaferro punched his ticket to the 2008 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on Friday as he finished third in the 3-meter diving competition at the NCAA Zone B Diving Championships.
Hosted by Auburn University, the NCAA Zone B Diving Championships is a three-day meet, bringing together the top divers from 25 colleges and universities from the southeastern United States.
Friday's competitions included the women's 1-meter springboard and the men's 3-meter springboard. Action in the NCAA Championship-qualifying meet continues Saturday with the men's 1-meter and women's 3-meter at 12 p.m. at Auburn's James E. Martin Aquatics Center.
South Carolina's Taryn Zack won the women's 1-meter with a combined score of 584.20 - scoring 295.40 in the preliminaries and 288.80 in the finals. Rounding out the top five were Lauren Leroy of Tennessee (563.45), Brittany Viola of Miami (558.95), Hannah Moore of Georgia (558.30) and Rachel Ware of LSU (552.45).
Georgia's Chris Colwill took the top spot in the men's 3-meter competition, posting a combined score of 873.15 - 444.60 in prelims and 428.55 in finals. Rounding out the top five were Reuben Ross of Miami (750.55), Mazzaferro (750.35), J.J. Kinzbach of Miami (719.60) and Aaron Fleshner of Alabama (718.70)
The top 12 women and top 10 men from the weekend's events will advance to the 2008 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships. The women's Championships is scheduled for March 20-22 in Columbus, Ohio, while the men's is slated for March 27-29 in Federal Way, Wash.
By finishing third in the 3-meter competition, Mazzaferro guarantees himself a place among the top 10 and a spot on the NCAA Championship roster. The sophomore from Cheshire, Conn., advanced to the NCAA Championships last season after qualifying in the platform competition - the final day of the Zone meet.
"Last year I qualified on platform, making it on the last day, so making it on the first day this year relieves a lot of stress and, but we have to focus on getting the rest of the team qualified," said Mazzaferro. "It was pretty nerve-racking today, it was 12 dives - 12 adrenaline rushes, and it was very exciting. I'm happy and glad that I am turning into a springboard diver. I was recruited here mainly as a platform diver and I have really worked on my technique to get better at springboard."
Auburn head diving coach Jeff Shaffer
was pleased with Mazzaferro's performance on Friday, especially with the way he rebounded after struggling on his opening dive.
"Dan did great job today, it was our goal to come in here and get qualified on day one, and obviously he was able to do that by getting third," said Shaffer. "He started off a little rough, missing one of his most consistent dives, but we talked all along about the process of doing 12 separate dives and letting the end product take care of itself. He was able to keep his composure and put together a strong list of remaining dives, some of which he had been struggling with a bit, but he was able to step up and execute them well."
All four of Auburn's divers finished in the top 18 in preliminaries, advancing to the finals session. Mazzaferro led the Tigers with a total score of 750.35 - 366.00 in prelims and 384.35 in finals. Sophomore Kelly Marx finished 11th in prelims with a score of 325.60, but bounced back with a 369.45 in finals for a total score of 695.05 to finish eighth.
"Kelly had a great second list, but he got off to a rough start, putting himself in a hole and then he ends up one point of being out of the top six," said Shaffer. "He is still in good shape, though, he still has two strong events left but he has some work to do."
Sophomore Caleb Dunnichay followed in 12th with a total score of 648.00. He was ninth after the preliminary session, posting a 333.15, and turned in a finals total of 314.85 to finish off the day. Finishing less than a point behind Dunnichay was junior Scott Morgan (647.45) in 14th. Morgan finished prelims in 13th with a score of 320.60, but fell one spot in the rankings despite improving in his second list of dives (326.85).
"I thought Caleb and Scott both did a great job, they were very consistent," said Shaffer. "Caleb did some outstanding dives, just needs to work on finishing some dives. Scott was very consistent through the whole contest, he didn't really miss a dive and he competed very well.
"Overall, I'm pretty pleased with day one, just looking forward to regrouping tonight and coming back in and stepping it up a bit on 1-meter."