March 22, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS -- Casey Matthews won the 3-meter diving national title on day two of the NCAA Championships, joining Michelle Cabassol as All-America honorees in the event for Purdue women's swimming and diving Friday evening.
Matthews is the first-ever national champion for the Purdue women's swimming and diving program. She joins David Boudia as Purdue divers to win a national title under the tutelage of head diving coach Adam Soldati. Boudia was a six-time NCAA champion from 2009-11 and also won two medals, including a 10-meter platform gold, at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Matthews placed first among a field of 39 divers in the afternoon preliminaries with a score of 374.15. She had the advantage of diving last among the eight finalists in the evening competition, scoring 67.50 on her final dive (an inward 2 ½ somersault tuck) to overtake Arizona State's Hailey Casper.
Cabassol placed fourth in her first finals appearance at the NCAA Championship. She had a finals score of 350.45 after placing eighth in the prelims with a score of 340.00. The redshirt-freshman earned her first All-America honor.
With Matthews and Cabassol accounting for 35 team points Friday, Purdue moved into 16th place with 44 points among the 38 teams that have scored at the national championship meet. Matthews also won the consolation final of one-meter diving Thursday.
Purdue also competed in the 800 freestyle relay Friday, the quartet of Carly Mercer, Rhiannon Sheets, Nika Petric and Allie Davis placing 18th with a time of 7:10.86. Mercer led the way with a leadoff 200 split of 1:47.16, improving on her fifth-best time in program history.
Individually, Sheets was 51st in the 200 free with a time of 1:49.29.
Matthews took control of the finals competition Friday evening with back-to-back scores in the 70s on her third and fourth dives of the six-dive list. She scored 75.60 on her back 2 ½ somersault tuck and 72.80 on her reverse 2 ½ somersault tuck.
Matthews missed the last two college seasons due to shoulder injuries. After being a three-time All-American as an underclassman in 2009 and 2010, she redshirted during the 2010-11 season and exercised an Olympic waiver the following season. She made her return to competition at the USA Diving Winter Nationals in December 2011 before another injury sidelined her for the rest of the school year.
Matthews returned to college competition in time for the Ohio State Invitational in December 2012. She was the runner-up on the 3-meter springboard at the Big Ten Championships. Thursday, she won the consolation final of 1-meter diving at NCAAs for the second time in her career, also doing so in 2010. She is now a five-time All-America honoree as a Boilermaker.
The NCAA Championships conclude Saturday with preliminaries at 11 a.m. and finals at 7 p.m. Lauren Gustafson (50 free), Cabassol (platform diving) and Sheets (200 fly) are scheduled to compete individually and the Boilers will also have a 400 free relay team in the field.
Purdue Entries on Day Two of NCAA Championships
Casey Matthews, 386.55 - NCAA National Champion, 20 Team Points
Michelle Cabassol, 350.45 - Finished 4th in Finals, 15 Team Points
Rhiannon Sheets, 1:49.29 - Finished 51st in Prelims
800 Free Relay
Mercer, Sheets, Petric & Davis, 7:10.86 - Finished 18th