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Diving debut: Cal women’s dive heads down to USC

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NOVEMBER 14, 2022

The Bears are diving back in for their debut meet as they head down to sunny Southern California to compete in the USC Diving Invitational.  This is the first appearance of the season for Cal diving and it will be a hectic one as eight teams will be competing from Nov. 11 to Nov. 13. Athletes from Cal along with Air Force, UCLA, Fresno State, UNLV, Pepperdine and California Baptist University will compete this weekend at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center on all three diving specialties: one-meter, three-meter, and platform.

Preliminary rounds will commence this Friday with the women’s three-meter. Saturday will feature the platform and finally finishing up Sunday with the one-meter event. The Bears will be sending two divers down south, senior Cassie Graham and sophomore Danielle Killeen led by head coach Pei Lin. 

Last year, Graham had Cal’s top score in a dual meet versus Stanford on 3-meter with her best attempt of 282.75.  She competed in all three specialties as a sophomore at the 2021 Pac-12 Championships, claiming 21st on 1-meter, 20th on 3-meter, and 15th on platform. Graham as a freshman in the 2019-20 season, posted best marks of 249.00 on 1-meter (vs. Arizona State), 249.85 on 3-meter (at the Minnesota Invitational) and 216.05 on platform at the USC Invitational. She also scored for the Bears on 3-meter, placing 16th, and platform, placing 11th, at the 2020 Pac-12 championships.

Cal fans will be searching to see how Graham has improved over the past years in her career in this reoccurring invitational. 

Furthermore, they may wonder how coaching has played a role in her development. Women’s diving has been a point of weakness in the Cal swim and dive program. 

With the program headed by numerous individuals over the years and interim coaches, Pei Lin is now the official head coach of both the women’s and the men’s diving programs. This is her first season on staff with the Bears as she was just recently coined into her position in April of this year.

Lin is a three time NCAA runner up and a Chinese national champion. She competed as an undergraduate at Miami University of Ohio from 2015-18 where she was named diver of the year on numerous occasions, captured multiple championships, and even broke records during her career. 

Lin began coaching as an assistant coach at Ohio State University in 2019. Within two years, she mentored three Big Ten champions with six of her divers qualifying for the NCAA Championships. Moving forward, she most recently came from her position as head coach at the University of South Dakota for the 2021-22 season.

Now the question is how she will develop this young program in the season and years to come, especially the sophomore Danielle Killeen. 

Killeen is now entering her sophomore year only competing in a dual meet versus Stanford in the 2021-22 season. She led the Bears on one-meter with a best score of 261.23 and also marked a score of 248.85 on three-meter. Still adapting to collegiate diving and scoring, Killeen will strive to make her mark this weekend at USC.

It will be an uphill battle for the Bears, competing against top qualifying divers in Zone E of the NCAA Division. Most of these universities such as USC already have qualifying divers for the NCAA championships. Time is running out and this weekend may be one of the last opportunities for Graham and Killeen to have a championship qualifying dive. Especially for a senior athlete like Graham, it is now or never for her as she enters her last competitive season of her career.

Devon Byrne covers women’s swim and dive. Contact her at [email protected].

NOVEMBER 14, 2022