Three Tennessee divers make NCAA championships after B Zone tournament
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee will send a total of three divers to the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships later this month in Indianapolis.
Tennessee finished hosting the NCAA Zone B Diving Championships on Wednesday at the Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center with the men's and women's platform competition. Although the team did not get any additional qualifiers on tower, freshman Samantha Lera came close in the women's contest.
Senior Brent Sterling will join the Vols for the NCAA championships on the men's side for the third time, while Lady Vols will be represented on the boards by back-to-back SEC Diver of the Year Tori Lamp and senior Jodie McGroarty.
Lera finished one spot out from joining her teammates in the field, finishing fourth on the platform. The top three women's spots earned automatic qualifying positions.
Between all the schools, a total of 15 divers from the Zone meet qualified for NCAAs. New qualifiers Wednesday include Jordan Long of Duke for the men and Hannah Hopkins of NC State, Kara McCormack of Miami (Fla.) and Ann-Perry Blank of Georgia.
Three spots in the NCAA field were on the line in the women's competition Wednesday, and they were earned by the top three divers.
Hannah Hopkins of NC State won the platform competition by a wide margin, earning her spot in the NCAA field with a score of 593.35. McCormack of Miami was second and Blank of Georgia was third.
Lera just missed out of the NCAA field, taking fourth with a 12-dive list of 517.95.
The contest concludes Lera's freshman season, a year in which she made consistent strides forward. She finished fifth on platform at the SEC Championships and reached the finals of all three diving events.
For the Lady Vols, Lamp and McGroarty has already earned their spot in the NCAA field earlier this week, but had to dive to be eligible for the event at the final site. Lamp dove her full list in the prelims and finished with 322.10, the highest of any diver heading into the finals. She dove off the 5-meter platform on her final dives and finished seventh with 482.50.
Nick McCrory of Duke, a 2012 Olympian, took care of business on the men's platform, winning with a score of 947.00. He won the competition by nearly 250 points ahead of second-place Michael Lewark of Florida State (697.60).
McCrory had already assured himself a trip to the NCAAs by winning the 1-meter diving competition Monday, but his victory Wednesday helped send his teammate Jordan Long to the NCAA championships. Long was next on the qualifying priority list.
For the Tennessee men, senior Jordan Mauney was in a position where he had to win the event to qualify for NCAAs, a tough task against the likes of McCrory and others. Mauney placed 15th with a score of 257.20.
Wednesday marked the end of Mauney's competitive career at UT. A four-year diver for the Vols, he enjoyed his best season this year, setting career bests on all three events.
For fellow senior Brent Sterling, he merely had to compete on the platform in order to be eligible in it for the national meet. He qualified for NCAAs on Tuesday by taking second on the 3-meter. On Wednesday, he finished 16th with a score of 246.85.