Jan. 17, 2008
AUBURN - Four divers signed National Letters of Intent to join the Auburn diving team during the early signing period in November, head diving coach Jeff Shaffer announced Thursday. The four divers come from Alabama, Georgia, Ohio and Texas.
The signees are Mary Catherine Cochran of Birmingham, Ala., Anna Aguero of Moultrie, Ga., Mackenzie Wickliffe of Westlake, Ohio, and Vanessa Dantin of The Woodlands, Texas.
"I'm very excited about the foundation of the rebuilding of our women's program," said Shaffer. "We signed four young ladies - two with junior and senior national experience and two that are developing divers with very strong potential. I think they will give us a tremendous mix in a very good work environment for everyone to move toward their individual goals as they represent Auburn University and contribute to the overall success of the program."
Cochran, the first Alabama signee since Shaffer took over the program nine years ago, comes to Auburn from Briarwood Christian School and the Hoover Dive Club. She is a two-time Alabama state champion.
"I have had the privilege of watching Mary Catherine in several meets throughout the past few years," said Shaffer. "It is always nice to be able to bring local talent to Auburn University. I think she has a tremendous upside, a great deal of potential once she gets into our program and training full-time.
"She is the first Alabama diver that we have had in the program since I have been here in nine years. I think it is a great start and hopefully it will open up some opportunities for other talent around the state to come in and be a part of our program."
Aguero hails from Colquitt County High School and the prestigious Moss Farms Diving club. The three-time All-American is a seven-time nationals finalist and is the 2007 Georgia Female Senior Diver of the Year and the 2005 Georgia WIN Female Club Athlete of the Year.
"Anna is a junior national and senior national qualifier, she is very sound on the 1-meter and 3-meter springboards and probably a little bit stronger on the platform - that is the event she qualified to dive at the senior national championships," said Shaffer. "She comes from Moss Farms Diving, which is one of the strongest programs in the country. It is the first time we have been able to tap into a Moss Farms diver and I think it will open up a strong avenue for future prospects."
Wickliffe comes to Auburn from Westlake High School and Jeff Arnold Diving Enterprises. The All-American has qualified on all three boards for nationals.
While diving for a top-40 championship team, Wickliffe was named team MVP as a junior while holding the title of team captain as a junior and senior. She is a two-year district qualifier while competing on two conference championship teams. Her six-dive personal best is 262.05 and her 11-dive best is 434.55.
Like Auburn's two current divers, Wickliffe is a converted gymnast and attained Level 9 status while competing.
"Mackenzie is coached by Jeff Arnold, who I have known for a long time, in fact, when I was growing up in Canton, Ohio, he actually helped me with my diving," said Shaffer. "She is a gymnast that has come to diving, she shows great potential and I think she is going to excel in our program. She has a great attitude, loved Auburn on her visit and is going to be a big contributor to the overall success of our team."
The final member of the signing class is Dantin, a student at The Woodlands High School and a member of The Woodlands Diving Academy.
She is a three-time high school state finalist, a three-time All-American and her high school team won the 2006 state championship. Dantin is also a four-time Junior Nationals Qualifier and was the 2007 Junior National Champion on the platform. Her success continued at Senior Nationals as she was a finalist on the platform.
"Platform is her strength as she was a Senior National qualifier in the event," said Shaffer. "She is going to develop into a very strong springboard diver as well, as she comes from an outstanding program in The Woodlands Diving Academy. She has a tremendous foundation to work from."