Cal women’s divers squared off against the best West Coast collegiate competition when they hit the pools of Flagstaff, Arizona, for the NCAA Zone E Diving Championships on March 7-9. The Bears sent their whole four-person diving squad to the Championships matching up against Pac-12 rivals such as UCLA, USC and Stanford, along with other schools such as Hawaii and Nevada.
Cal’s contingent included freshman Phoebe Lamay, junior Hayden Tavoda and seniors Sara Lina-Boushakra and Anne Kastler. Kastler and Lamay qualified for spots in the NCAA Championships later this month.
Of the Bears’ four divers, only Lamay and Kastler qualified for the finals in their events, with Lamay securing a seventh place finish in the 1-meter event with a score of 576.10. Kastler notched an 11th and 15th place finish in the 3-meter and platform events, respectively, with her cumulative scores of 575.90 and 448.30.
Lina-Boushakra did not qualify for the finals for either of the two events she competed in, the 3-meter or the platform. She was 32nd in the 3-meter prelims, with 248.20 total, and 20th in the platform prelims with a 217.45 total. Tavoda was 20th in 3-meter prelims with her 276.40 score and 27th in 1-meter prelims with her 248.70 total.
Cal’s divers were a longshot to perform well at this meet, with talented divers from Stanford, USC, UCLA and Nevada taking center stage in the competition. Nevada’s Krysta Palmer dominated the championships as she had two victories, one in the 1-meter and another in the platform event, with scores of 654.80 and 638.15, respectively. She also took third place in 3-meter finals with her 666.05 score. The victor of the 3-meter event was another Nevada diver, Sharae Zheng,who notched a 698.00 total to separate herself from the rest of the pack.
Stanford’s Gracia Leydon-Mahoney also showed off her versatility with top-10 finishes in all the events at the NCAA Championships. She took sixth, fifth and fourth places in the platform, 1-meter and 3-meter events, respectively. UCLA’s Maria Polyakova took second and third place in the 3-meter and 1-meter events with respective scores of 678.05 and 625.25.
With the diving season nearly wrapped up for the Bears — and Cal unlikely to make up the differences on the leaders — the rest of the women’s swimming and diving team will turn its attention to the NCAA Championships that begin March 16 in Atlanta. Cal’s swimmers have been strong and steady performers all season and the team will look to defend its title against the likes of stiff competition from USC, Stanford and Georgia.
The swimmers, however, have not been as dominant as they were a season ago but feel as though the championships will provide them a better platform to show off their talents than dual meet settings. As things currently stand, the team will have to shake off its most fierce challengers, and the only two teams they have fallen behind this season, USC and Stanford, if they want to truly go back-to-back this year.