Some of the best divers in the NCAA kicked off the new year competing against each other at the Georgia Diving Invitational at Gabrielsen Natatorium. While all of these divers will first have to qualify for the NCAA Championships at their respective Zone Championships, the meet was still an opportunity for them to get a higher level of competition than these athletes face in a typical dual meet.
Tennessee’s Mauricio Robles Rodriguez, who finished 8th on 3m and 10th on 1M at last year’s NCAA Championship, dominated on both boards at this competition. He also finished third in the platform event, an event in which he finished 15th last year.
Besting Rodriguez on the platform was Minnesota’s Matt Barnard, who finished 3rd in that event in Iowa last year. Barnard was also second to Rodriguez in the 3M event, another in which he scored NCAA points in 2015.
Rodriguez’s teammate Liam Stone struggled to replicate the form that got him in the championship final of the 3m last year, finishing fourth in that event. One freshmen who is starting to make a name for himself and could find his way into NCAA scoring is Auburn’s Scott Lazeroff, who finished second in the platform and 5th on the 3M.
The women’s meet was extremely competitive in all three events. Minnesota’s Yu Zhou was the odds on favorite to dominate the competition, she was named NCAA diver of the year last year after finishing no lower than 5th in any discipline.
In the 3M, Zhou was upset by Louisiana State senior Cassie Weil. Weil was a 12th place finisher at NCAAs in 2015.
Zhou did not participate on the platform, and Weil has never been a platform specialist in her career. Instead it was Tennessee’s Rachel Rubadue leading the way with Weil in a respectable second. Rubadue is just a freshmen, but her score suggests however that she could qualify for the NCAA Championships if she can repeat her performance from this meet.