March 10, 2013
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NCAA Zone B Diving | March 11-13
Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center | Knoxville, Tenn.
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AUBURN - Nine Auburn divers will compete for a spot in the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships this week as Coach Jeff Shaffer at the Tigers travel to Knoxville, Tenn., for the NCAA Zone B Diving meet, which runs Monday-Wednesday at the Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center.
A total of 74 divers - 41 women and 33 men - from 17 schools in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas will compete over the three-day event. This year, Zone B is allotted five entries for the men and 10 for the women at the NCAA Championships, which run the next two weeks in Indianapolis. The Zone meet is the only opportunity for collegiate divers to qualify for the national meet.
"In swimming, you have a time you can meet at any time during the year (to make the NCAA Championships)," Shaffer said. "For diving, you have to meet a minimum score sometime during the school year, then you have one chance at the Zone meet to advance. This year, we're limited to 10 spots on the women's side and five on the men's side, so it's going to be much more competitive than years past."
Auburn will have five men's divers competing, led by junior John Santeiu. Santeiu will look to make a return trip to the NCAA Championships after competing for the first time last year. He captured the 2013 SEC platform title last month in College Station, Texas.
Sophomores Fraser McKean and Michael Beran along with freshman Andrew Laing will also look to build on strong performances at last month's SEC meet, as all three finished in the top 10 in the platform event. Freshman Justin Youtsey will get his first taste of collegiate postseason competition as well.
"I think if you look at the men's results, the divers and the teams that are in our zone," Shaffer said, "legitimately, both John and Fraser have a good chance to make the NCAA Championships, based on their performance at SECs. You only have to be good in one event, so I've tried to strategize a little bit on what each individual's best event is and put a little more focus on that single event over the last week and a half of training."
On the women's side, four Auburn women will be competing for one of 10 spots in Indianapolis. Sophomores Cinzia Calabretta and Shanna Schuelein will join freshmen Carly Scheper and Morgan Mullins in an effort to qualify for the NCAA Championships for the first time. Calabretta had the top finish last season among returning Auburn divers, finishing fourth in the platform final and falling 11 points shy of earning an NCAA Championships berth.
"Our women's team is learning," Shaffer said. "They are gaining the experience they need, they've worked hard, and they're going into the Zone meet with an opportunity to improve upon what they've done this year. (The goal is) to really just be consistent and see where the chips fall. Cinzia was just a few points short of making the NCAA Championships last year, and she's gotten better this year. But the field is going to be a little tougher."
The meet gets underway with men's 1-meter prelims at 10 a.m. CT Monday with finals to follow immediately thereafter. Women's 3-meter prelims are set for a 2:30 p.m. start and finals will follow. Live scoring will be available through Divemeets.com, and UTSports.com will provide free live video.