Two key Minnesota divers will sit out the coming NCAA season to prepare for the 2020 Olympic year: NCAA champ Sarah Bacon and scorer Kristen Hayden.
The University confirmed this week that the two divers will take the year off from collegiate competition. They were two of Minnesota’s four returning scorers from 2019 NCAAs.
Bacon was the team’s top scorer last year, winning the national 1-meter title and taking 5th on 3-meter. She was in line for two top-3 finishes this season, based on graduations ahead of her on 3-meter. Hayden, meanwhile, was 11th on 3-meter last year and just missed scoring on 1-meter (22nd) and platform (20th). Factoring out seniors ahead of her would have moved Hayden into B final range in both of those events, and she was projected to score 20+ points.
The absences of those two combined with Canadian distance specialist Mackenzie Padington (also sitting out to prepare for an Olympic bid) leaves Minnesota with just one of their four underclassmen scorers returning from 2019 NCAAs – that’s breaststroker Lindsey Kozelsky.
Bacon is coming off a huge diving summer in which she won World Championships silver on 1-meter. That was a historic medal, Team USA’s first women’s diving medal in that event since 1991. Bacon also won 1-meter gold and 3-meter synchro silver at the Pan American Games.
Hayden was a World Junior Championships team member for the U.S. in 2016. Last year, she was 12th on 1-meter and 11th on 3-meter at the USA Diving Winter Diving Trials.