March 15, 2014
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With three more Purdue divers qualifying for the NCAA Championships Saturday, seven of the nine Boilermakers competing this weekend at the Zone C Championships earned bids to the national championship meets. Nate Cox, Sean Mokhtari and MacKenzie Tweardy punched their tickets Saturday with their performances from the platform towers.
There were approximately 90 divers competing at the Zone C Championships this week at Ohio State. 10 percent (nine) were Boilermakers, yet Purdue managed to claim 41 percent (7 of 17) of the NCAA Championships berths available in Zone C. Jamie Bissett and Casey Matthews qualified Thursday. Michelle Cabassol and Layne Rogers punched their tickets Friday. Indiana (three) and Kentucky (two) were the only other schools in Zone C to qualify multiple divers.
For Purdue, four men's divers have qualified for the first time since sending five to the national championship meet in 2010. Three women's divers have qualified for the first time since 2009.
Both Purdue teams will be represented by 10 student-athletes at the NCAA Championships. The women had seven swimmers qualify and the men had six.
Tweardy won the women's platform competition to clinch her first berth at the NCAA Championships. She finished with total score of 612.60, rallying after qualifying third in the prelims. She improved on her preliminary-round score (281.30) by 50 points in the finals. Purdue's Casey Matthews also won the women's 1-meter competition Thursday.
There were only two bids available for the men Saturday. Cox and Mokhtari rose to the challenge by finishing one-two in the finals of the platform diving competition to qualify for NCAAs for the first time in their careers. They were second and third in the prelims behind Kentucky's Greg Ferrucci, who had already clinched an NCAAs berth Thursday. Both Boilermakers soared past Ferrucci in the finals and opened up sizable leads on a group of three Indiana University divers that were still chasing NCAAs bids.
Cox earned a list score of 405.60 in the finals to finish the day at 780.80. Mokhtari (735.05) also improved on his preliminary-round score (362.55) in the finals and finished the day with a 50.65-edge over the third-place finisher.
Alec Back placed seventh in the platform finals Saturday. He advanced to the finals of all three diving events this week. Mary Beth Dunnichay was next in line for an NCAAs bid for the women after Michigan's Carey Chen took third from the platforms Saturday to earn the final women's spot from Zone C.
Earlier this month, Purdue swimmers Francesca Marr, Carly Mercer, Rhiannon Sheets, Allie Davis, Grace Hernandez, Nika Karlina Petric and Kylie Vogel were announced as NCAAs qualifiers for the women. Guillermo Blanco, Lyam Dias, Austin Flager, Matt Friede, Adam Johnston and Danny Tucker are the men's qualifiers.
The women's NCAA Championships are set for March 20-22 in Minneapolis. The men's NCAA Championships are the following week (March 27-29) in Austin, Texas.
NCAA Zone C Diving Championships Day Three Qualifiers for NCAA Championships
Women's Platform (Top 3 Finishers)
MacKenzie Tweardy, Purdue
Kate Hillman, Indiana
Carey Chen, Michigan
Purdue Divers in Women's Platform
MacKenzie Tweardy, 612.60 - Finished 1st in Finals (331.30 Finals, 281.30 Prelims)
Purdue Divers in Men's Platform
Nate Cox, 780.80 -- Finished 1st in Finals (405.60 Finals, 375.20 Prelims)
Sean Mokhtari, 735.05 -- Finished 2nd in Finals (372.80 Finals, 362.55 Prelims)
Alec Back, 625.10 - Finished 7th in Finals (306.45 Finals, 318.65 Prelims)