After claiming two third-place medals in the Ivy League championships just over two weeks ago, junior Kristen Rayhack returned to the diving board to compete in the NCAA Zone A Diving championships this past weekend.
The event, held on Friday and Saturday at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis Md., brought together 40 women to compete for a chance to qualify for the NCAA Swimming and Diving championships.
Rayhack finished fifth in the 3-meter competition and sixth in the 1-meter competition overall.
“I was really pleased with the way the meet went,” Rayhack said. “I don’t think I could have done any better.”
The diver earned scores of 434.60 and 465.20, respectively, a vast improvement over her results in last year’s competition.
Before last season’s Zone championships, Rayhack suffered a series of injuries after slipping off the board during practice. A severely bruised left knee, strained right quadriceps and a sprained right ankle left her unable to practice consistently only days before the meet. She finished 27th on the 1-meter board and 23rd on the 3-meter board.
The injuries came after Rayhack took the 2004 Ivy League Diver of the Meet award at the Ivy League championships.
Rayhack earned a trip to the 2005 Zone Championships after securing third place in both the 1-meter and 3-meter events at this season’s Ivy League championships.
At the league championships, Rayhack finished behind two Columbia divers on the 1-meter board with a score of 243.5.
On the third day of league competition, Rayhack added another third place finish on the 3-meter board. In a field of 24 divers, she recorded a overall score of 459.75, just behind Yale’s Melanie Loftus and Columbia’s Grace Coyle.
Loftus proved to be tough competition once again in Annapolis. Taking seventh in the 1-meter preliminaries, the Bulldog rallied in the finals to win gold with a score of 493.65. In the 3-meter competition, Loftus fell into second place behind Penn State’s Alison Riccobono.
On Friday, Rayhack entered the 3-meter finals in sixth place, scoring 257.05 on the preliminary dives. She broke the top-5 after her final dives, coming in just ahead of Harvard’s Samantha Papadakis. On Saturday, Rayhack held her preliminary sixth place spot through the final competition.
“The Ivy League is really strong,” Rayhack said. “With four divers from the Ivy League in the top-5 at the zone championships, it was a really competitive division.”
Loftus and Riccobono will both advance to the NCAA Swimming and Diving championships, but Rayhack’s season now comes to a close. Although Rayhack did not advance further, she had a chance to prove her talent and dedication to the sport after a tough end to last season. “This was a really tough season,” Rayhack said.
“It’s long and grueling, and there were a lot of challenges [for me], but it couldn’t have gone better. I’m taking a five month break now and am looking forward to the time off.”
Archived article by Kristina Kovach
Sun Staff Writer