Divers prepare for Zone D meet

Stefan Scrafield

The Longhorn divers will look to build upon their post-season success at this weekends’ Zone D diving meet.

With 11 Texas swimmers having already qualified for the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, the diving team is looking to add to that number and put the Longhorns in position to take a run at their first national championship since Mark Schubert led the team to victory in 1991.

Unlike the swimmers, the diving team cannot qualify for the NCAAs through their respective conference championships. The teams must compete in one of the five zone meets held across the country.

There are 11 NCAA bids available at this weekend’s event, which gives Texas a great opportunity to add several women to its NCAA roster.

The Longhorn team will send four of its six divers to the competition, with freshman Sarah Gandy and junior Lauren Caldwell not competing after having missed most of the year.

The foursome of second-year divers is led by redshirt sophomore Shelby Cullinan and will also include true sophomores Maren Taylor, Diana Wilcox and Samantha Holland.

All four have previously competed in the zone meet with Holland, a San Antonio native, being the only one who hasn’t yet qualified for the NCAA championships.

Wilcox and Taylor were both very successful in last year’s event and are coming off strong performances at the Big 12 championships. Taylor, in particular, was very impressive as she won both the three-meter and platform events and finished third in the one-meter competition.

Despite only being in her second year of collegiate diving, Cullinan will be expected to take on a leadership role heading into the zones.

After having a phenomenal freshman year in which she won the platform event at the zone meet and went on to finish third at the NCAA championships, Cullinnan was forced to spend a year as a medical redshirt last season.

However, after several strong performances this year, Cullinan believes she is regaining her old form.

“I feel like my diving has improved a little bit, and I am more confident,” said the two-time All-American.

The diving team has had a huge advantage this post season with all three of their meets being held in Austin.

Just as the Big 12 championships were held at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center, the zone and NCAA meets will also be held in the Longhorns’ home pool.

“It will definitely be nice to have a home pool advantage.  We won’t have as much pressure, and we will not have to adjust to the diving boards,” Cullinan said. “It will be fun to have the rest of our team be able to come out and watch the meet and support us.”