KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Junior Chelsea Jackson competed at the USA Diving AT&T National Championships on Friday, finishing 29th in the 3-meter springboard preliminary. Although she was unable to advance to the afternoon's semifinals, the experience was invaluable for the Lumberjack diver.
"I just wanted to see how everyone else would do," Jackson said. "I knew I wasn't doing the same difficult dives as everybody else but I had a ton of fun. It wasn't my best day today but I thought I did pretty well. It was my first national competition in any sport so I was a little nervous. I did what I wanted to do and get some experience."
Jackson qualified for the National Championships after placing third at the Preliminary Zone D Championships in Mission Viejo, Calif. last month. On Friday, she aimed for a spot in the next round but was unable to climb up the leader board with just five dives in competition. She finished with a score of 205.70.
"Chelsea started off solid and missed one pretty big and didn't have enough to pull her back," said diving coach Nikki Huffman. "With only five dives, it's tough to come back plus it was one of the best national meets I've seen in a long time. This was her first national championship ever. These divers have been diving since they've been much younger so they've made Junior Olympic Nationals, age group nationals or AAU Nationals and Chelsea is starting off at the big Senior Nationals. She recognizes that and she sees what she has to do to make an impact at this meet in years to come and she's excited to see what she can do."
For Jackson, who has been diving for only three years, the USA Diving National Championships was only the newest height she has reached in short diving career. In her two seasons at NAU, Jackson has earned five All-WAC honors, four of them First Team, and has four bronze medals to her name at the conference championship. She has also advanced to the NCAA Zone E Meet in both of her years reaching a high of 15th on 3-meter this past April.
Jackson will now train, beginning with what is sure to be an outstanding junior season for the Lumberjacks, for another shot next summer which she believes she will be even better prepared for the next time around.
"Next time I definitely won't be as nervous," Jackson said. "I'll have newer, bigger dives next time which will help me out. It was good to see how the other girls were competing and I know what level I'll need to be at it to do the best I can."