USAFA, Colo. – Senior Kristy Ardavanis finished sixth overall on 1-meter with a 12-dive total score of 551.35 to lead NAU on the second day of the NCAA Zone E Championship hosted by the Air Force Academy. Based on platform results on Saturday, Ardavanis' 1-meter finish could earn her a berth in next week's NCAA Championships.
"She dove great; there were a couple spots where she could have been a hair sharper but that's how the meet goes," NAU diving coach Nikki Huffman said. "After prelims she was 12th and she brought herself all the way up to sixth. To finish sixth against a deep field of 49 is really great."
Ardavanis qualified for the final in 12th place with a prelim total of 266.40 before jumping six spots with a 284.95 score in the final round. Her cumulative total of 551.35 was just .55 behind the fifth-place finisher as Ardavanis' sixth-place finish put her 15th on the priority list to potentially earn one of nine qualifying spots available at the Zone for the NCAA Championships.
If three specific divers - from Pac-12 schools USC, UCLA, and Utah – finish as the top three on platform on Saturday then Ardavanis would become just the second diver in NAU program history to qualify for the NCAA Championships. If those three aren't the top three platform finishers then Ardavanis would be an alternate. The scenario is based on the priority list used by the NCAA to select nine divers from the zone and the finishes of those three divers in the 1-meter and 3-meter competitions.
"I had a kind of rocky prelims but in finals I did really well," Ardavanis said. "I'm really excited that I did well and I'm happy with it but it's really stressful that it's completely out of my control if I go or not. I'm praying that everything works out but I can't be sad with my performance and if this is the end I ended it well."
Freshman Chelsea Jackson made her first career Zone final on Friday as she finished 15th overall with a 520.15 total. She scored 261.70 in the final to move up three positions after placing 18th in the prelims at 258.45. Junior Gwen Smithberg rounded out NAU's competitors on 1-meter as she placed 46th overall.
Ardavanis will not compete on platform but Smithberg and Jackson will dive in the platform competition on Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. Arizona time.