By Andrew Tomsky/NAU Media Relations
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – NAU junior diver Kristy Ardavanis has competed on the 1-meter diving board in eight meets this year; she has won seven times. She competed on both 1-meter and 3-meter in seven meets; she won both five times. She has been nominated for Verizon WAC Diver of the Week honors five times this season; she has won all five.
Despite the overwhelming success, Ardavanis and her teammates have greater goals in mind when they take to the boards at the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) swimming and diving championships next week in San Antonio, Texas.
"I think as a team we are the most consistent and we should be able to score the most total points," said Ardavanis. "We are all good divers and all have a chance to make the finals. It's a huge advantage to go with our swimmers since we are all going to score and get points for the team."
Ardavanis' monster season began with winning seven of the first-eight events she competed in over the four NAU meets to begin the season. She was named Verizon WAC Diver of the Week for the first time on Nov. 7, and then earned the award again on Nov. 14, Dec. 5, Dec. 19, and Jan. 9, taking the honor in five of six weeks through the core of NAU's regular season. No other diver in the conference has earned the award more than twice this season.
"It's been motivating to see my name popping up and it gives me an edge when I go to conference and hopefully intimidate the other divers," she said. "It's definitely a confidence booster. I'd like to think that I'm a favorite and definitely want to do really well."
Ardavanis has record the second best diving scores in program history on both 1-meter and 3-meter this season. Her career best 1-meter score of 308.70, scored in November at Northern Colorado, was the second best 1-meter total in the WAC this season. In her last meet on Jan. 7 at Arizona she earned a career best 3-meter score of 326.75, which was the fourth highest WAC score this season.
Following the graduation of three outstanding seniors from last year's squad, Ardavanis knew that she, along with returning seniors Cassie Anderson and Holly Frost, would have to move into a leadership role as the Lumberjacks welcomed three newcomers and two redshirts for the 2011-12 season.
"After losing all those seniors, I realized that I really had to make an impact and help motivate the underclassmen," Ardavanis said. "It's been really good for me to have to step up and be a leader. The pressure has been good for me, and now that I'm so close to winning I can taste it even more."
A native of Gilbert, Ariz., Ardavanis began diving at age 13. Unlike many divers she did not also compete in gymnastics, but she describes herself as a daredevil as a kid that loved to try all sorts of twists and flips on the trampoline. She had little fear as a kid, but eventually realized the potential dangers of her craft.
Some of those fears came to fruition this season, as during a dive in practice, she kneed her face and lost two teeth, traumatized one other, and broke her maxilla, which is the fusion of two bones in the roof of the mouth that forms the upper jaw.
"It hurt really bad to dive at first after the incident," said Ardavanis, who missed time mid-season while recovering. "There was a bit of a mental block I had to get over, but I realized it was kind of a fluke."
Back to full health and with the rest of her teammates healthy as well, Ardavanis is ready for the challenge of the conference meet and the subsequent NCAA Zone Diving regional's and feels confident in the ability of her team.
"Over the last couple weeks everyone's been putting in extra effort and stepping it up, and its showing on the boards," she said "I feel like we will have a very successful meet as a team."
The team will travel to San Antonio on Tuesday and begin four days of competition on Wednesday, with several NAU staff members and parents planning to make the trip as well as the Lumberjacks compete for a conference title.
"The whole atmosphere is super high energy and positive," added Ardavanis. "We worked all year for this and we've had a really long season, so getting to the end of it and winding everything up is really exciting. We are all way pumped up!"