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Divers Strive to Qualify for NCAAs at Zone C Championships

PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM Jamie Bissett was the runner-up in both diving events at Big Tens to finish the meet as the Purdue men's top individual scorer.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM
Jamie Bissett was the runner-up in both diving events at Big Tens to finish the meet as the Purdue men's top individual scorer.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM

March 11, 2014


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Live Dive-by-Dive Scoring | NCAA Qualifying Info | List of Entered Divers

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The nine Purdue divers -- five men and four women -- aim to advance to the NCAA Championships by qualifying at this weekend's Zone C Diving Championships, hosted by Ohio State University.

Alec Back, Jamie Bissett, Nate Cox, Sean Mokhtari and Layne Rogers will represent the Purdue men, Michelle Cabassol, Mary Beth Dunnichay, Casey Matthews and MacKenzie Tweardy the Purdue women. Except for Dunnichay, all are veterans of the Zone Diving Championships and most have competed at the high-level meet multiple times in their careers. Bissett, Cabassol, Matthews and Rogers represented the Boilers at the 2013 NCAA Championships after qualifying at the Zone C meet.

Action is set for Thursday through Saturday at OSU's McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion in Columbus. The women's 1-meter and men's 3-meter competitions are scheduled for Thursday and vice versa on Friday. Both genders will compete from the platform towers Saturday. Action begins at 1 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and 11 a.m. on Saturday. The top 18 finishers in the springboard prelims and the top 12 in the platform prelims advance to the championship rounds, from which the divers qualify for the NCAA Championships.

Purdue hosted the Zone C Championships last season for the fourth time since the Boilermaker Aquatic Center opened.

There are five Zone meets around the country. Each Zone is allotted a different number of qualifying berths to the NCAA Championships, with Zone C receiving nine for the women and eight for the men this year. Zone C is expected to feature a large number of divers from the Big Ten Conference. Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin are competing at the Zone D Championships in the Twin Cities this week, but the rest of the league's divers should be in Columbus.

The Zone C Championships will also feature divers from Kentucky, Louisville, Notre Dame, Western Kentucky and selected Horizon League, Mid-American and Missouri Valley Conference schools.

There is a unique matrix utilized to divvy up the nine qualifying spots among the three competitions. Automatic bids go to the top four finishers in the 3-meter (top three for the men due to one fewer NCAA berth), the top three performers in the 1-meter and the top two finishers in the platform.

However, if a competitor places highly among multiple events at his or her Zone meet, he or she will not account for more than one of the nine qualifying slots allotted to his or her gender. So divers that place just below the automatic qualifying spots still receive NCAA berths sometimes.

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Unlike their swimmer counterparts, the divers have to perform well this weekend to qualify for the NCAA Championships. No other scores or results from regular-season competition are considered.

"Since our sport isn't based on times like swimming, it's a one shot deal; this is the NCAA qualifier," Purdue diving coach Adam Soldati said. "You've got to put it all together in this meet. But this happens a lot in our sport, so we're used to one-time qualifiers."

Once a competitor qualifies for the NCAA Championships in any of the three diving events, he or she is permitted to compete on all three boards at NCAAs. However, divers must continue to compete in every event at their Zone meet even if they qualify for NCAAs on the first day of Zones.

Virginia Tech (Zone A), Clemson (Zone B in Greensboro, N.C.), Minneapolis (Zone D) and Air Force (Zone E) are also hosting Zone meets this week. Action at Zones A, B and D began Monday.

All nine Purdue divers set to compete this week scored team points for the Boilers at the Big Ten Championships. Matthews captured the Big Ten title from the 1-meter springboard and was named the co-Diver of the Championships. She was the first Purdue woman to accomplish both feats since 2009.

Matthews (37 team points) was the top scoring Boilermaker among both teams this year after also finishing as the runner-up from the 3-meter springboard. Bissett (34) was the runner-up in each of the springboard events and was the top scorer for the Purdue men. Tweardy (33) scored in all three women's diving events for the second year in a row. Dunnichay (32), Cabassol (27), Rogers (20), Cox (18), Back (12) and Mokhtari (11) were also among the teams' top scorers. Cox was the runner-up in men's platform diving, posting the top finish of his career at Big Tens.

At the 2013 Zone C Championships at the Boilermaker Aquatic Center, Cabassol and Matthews punched their tickets to NCAAs on the first day by finishing one-two in the finals of the women's 3-meter springboard. The following day, Bissett and Rogers also earned bids to the national championship meet in the men's 3-meter. Bissett placed third to earn his spot. Rogers finished fifth but was granted a berth when the top two finishers from Thursday's 1-meter competition also were the top two performers from the 3-meter.

With their performances from the platform towers the last two seasons, Tweardy (2013) and Mokhtari (2012) have both finished one spot away from a berth at NCAAs. Tweardy took third last year when a second-place showing would have earned a bid. Mokhtari was less than a point away from placing second as a freshman two years ago.

Automatic NCAA Qualifiers (9 Bids for Women, 8 Bids for Men in Zone C)
Distribution of Women's Bids
1-Meter -- 1st through 3rd
3-Meter -- 1st through 4th
Platform -- 1st & 2nd
More competitors qualify if the same divers place among the top finishers in multiple events
Additional Bids Hierarchy: 4th in 1-Meter, 5th in 3-Meter, 3rd in Platform, 5th in 1-Meter

Distribution of Men's Bids
1-Meter -- 1st through 3rd
3-Meter -- 1st through 3rd
Platform -- 1st & 2nd
More competitors qualify if the same divers place among the top finishers in multiple events
Additional Bids Hierarchy: 4th in 3-Meter, 4th in 1-Meter, 5th in 3-Meter, 3rd in Platform