FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – With one big dive in the finals, sophomore Raquel Gonzales put herself in position to make it two Northern Arizona divers to propel themselves to Indianapolis. In the end though, Gonzales wound up on the outside looking in, which did nothing to spoil her platform performance on the final day of the NCAA Zone E Diving Championships in the Aquatic and Tennis Complex.
"(Her second dive) is a 205B and it's a back two and a half pike and it's got a harder degree of difficulty," said diving coach Nikki Huffman. "At 10-meters, when you line it up well you can really score well with it. It was exciting because it's a new dive this year and we wanted to wait to train that dive consistently. It's also the dive that she missed miserably at conference, and she even missed it a little in prelims. We were both very excited that she got that one."
Gonzales finished in 13th overall, just two spots out of the top 11 automatic qualifying positions for the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships. At the end of the preliminary session, she sat in 15th with a score of 213.80 that pushed her into the finals. In the second round of the finals, Gonzales vaulted herself into the 11th spot and held onto it through the third round. She would fall to 15th in the fourth round of dives and concluded the meet there with a score of 444.55.
Her performance on Wednesday was a monumental leap forward from her 43rd place showing last year at the Zone Championships.
"Rocky was great today," Huffman said. "There's a couple of places she could be a little better but this is what diving is all about. It's about who can be the most consistent, and she made a huge comeback from a couple of misses at conference. To do it at this level as a sophomore, she proved she's ready to compete with these ladies and hopefully be there next year."
Sophomore Christina Torrente was the only other Lumberjack diver to compete on platform as she placed 34th with a prelims score of 171.25. Torrente was also the only Lumberjack to compete on each of the three days of the NCAA Zone meet.
"Overall, we competed well the last three days," Huffman said. "They felt like they belonged and they're starting to make it."
Sophomore Tanya Kurach is the lone Lumberjack left to compete this season as she will head to Indianapolis, Ind. next week for the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships. Just the second diver in program history to qualify for the national championships, Kurach will dive in the 1-meter event next Thursday, March 16.