WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The Purdue divers head out on their own this weekend, setting sail for Columbus and the three-day Ohio State Invitational, which is slated to feature competitors from nine universities.
The divers will focus on one board per day at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion. The men will compete from the 1-meter Friday and 3-meter Saturday, with the women diving from the 3-meter board Friday and 1-meter Saturday. The genders will alternate rounds Sunday for the finals only platform competition.
Preliminary rounds are set for 2 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday. The springboard finals are at 7 p.m. and noon on Sunday for the platform diving.
Like the Purdue Invitational at the Boilermaker Aquatic Center the weekend of Nov. 16-18, the Ohio State Invitational also features three days of swimming action. Florida, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio State and Wisconsin are slated to have men's and women's competitors in attendance this weekend in Columbus. Notre Dame, Stanford and Texas will be represented by women's teams.
Alec Back, Jamie Bissett and Maddie Miskulin have qualified for the NCAA Zone C Championships meet from all three boards. All nine Boilers who have competed this season have already posted at least one Zone-qualifying score to ensure they will be able to compete at the three-day meet in March. The Boilermaker Aquatic Center will serve as the host of the NCAA-qualifying event this season.
A year ago at this time, the Purdue swimmers competed at the Ohio State Invitational but the divers did not join their teammates in Columbus, instead focusing their training on the USA Diving Winter Nationals in mid-December. However, the Winter Nationals are typically not held in the months after an Olympic Games, as is the case this year.
Two years ago, the Purdue divers competed separate from their swimming counterparts at the Texas Swimming and Diving Invitational. However, Miskulin is the only active Boiler that competed at the Texas meet. The 2011-12 season featured some roster transition, but Purdue's diving corps is expected to fill out a full lineup (10 competitors) this weekend.
Redshirt-junior Casey Matthews will make her return to active competition at the Ohio State Invitational, participating in the 1-meter springboard Saturday. Matthews has battled shoulder and ankle injuries the last two seasons. She has not competed since the USA Diving Winter Nationals a year ago and has not taken to the boards in a college competition since taking home All-America honors at the 2010 NCAA Championships at the Boilermaker Aquatic Center.
Matthews said she will be focusing on the springboard events for the remainder of her college career. Redshirt freshmen Michelle Cabassol and Mary Beth Dunnichay, who like Matthews exercised Olympic waivers in 2011-12 to concentrate on training for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, have also geared their training towards the springboard events this season. All three women have dealt with injuries in the last year and platform training is the most taxing on bodies recovering from injury.
Cabassol won the 3-meter and took second in the 1-meter at the Purdue Invitational. Miskulin was named the Big Ten Diver of the Week after winning the platform competition and placing third in the 3-meter.
On the men's side, Bissett was the Boilers' most consistent performer at the Purdue Invitational. He finished first in the preliminary rounds of both springboard events and held the lead entering the final dive of the platform competition. While he was unable to close out an event victory, the sophomore's 50 team points were tops among the Purdue diving corps. Bissett finished as the runner-up in the 1-meter and platform as well as third in the 3-meter.
Layne Rogers improved on his list scores in the springboard events to surge to the top of the leaderboards and win the evening finals at the Purdue Invitational. The freshman has impressed with six individual diving victories early this season. All six have come at the familiar surroundings of the Boilermaker Aquatic Center for the West Lafayette native. This weekend represents an opportunity for Rogers to duplicate his early success in a new environment among a talented field of divers.