March 10, 2013
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolina will have six divers competing this week in the NCAA Zone B Championships at the Allan Jones Aquatic Center in Knoxville, Tenn.
The Gamecocks will dive Monday through Wednesday with 15 qualifying spots (10 women, five men) up for grabs to the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships. A total of 74 divers (41 women, 33 men) will be at the meet, which is one of five Zone championships held to determine NCAA participants.
"We are heading into one of the toughest Zone Diving Championships in years," South Carolina diving coach Todd Sherritt said. "Our Zone has always had eight or more qualifying spots on the men's side. This year there are only five, and there are twelve really good divers. This team has trained well all year. They have improved over the past two months. They have earned it. Now they have to be free in their performance and make it happen."
Senior Rylan Ridenour, junior Andrew Helmich and sophomore Cole Miller are set to dive for the Gamecock men, and senior Chay Malvasio, sophomore Patricia Kranz and freshman Lauren Lamendola will compete for the Carolina women.
Ridenour, who holds the school record on both the one and three-meter springboards, will look to qualify for his first NCAA Championships. A native of Lebanon, Ind., Ridenour has had a strong senior season, earning SEC Diver of the Week on two occasions. He bounced back from a foot injury at Alabama to finish 10th on the three-meter board at the SEC Championships.
Miller has become one of the top young talents in the country on the one and three-meter springboards and the platform. He scored on all three boards at the SEC Championships, finishing fifth on the three-meter, 10th on the platform and 19th on the one-meter. At last year's Zone Championships, Miller set the 12-dive school record on the platform with a mark of 609.25. Helmich looks to continue his success after scoring on the one-meter springboard and platform at the SEC Championships.
"Rylan and Cole are good enough to get in," Sherritt said. "They will have to be consistent and bring some outstanding dives to the table. They are both good on the one and three-meter. I could see a possible scenario where Rylan gets in on the one-meter and Cole qualifies on the three-meter. Andrew Helmich's goal is a top-20 finish. He scored for us in two events at SECs, so I could see that happening for him."
On the women's side, Kranz has been the Gamecocks' top diver. A native of Davie, Fla., Kranz delivered one of the best performances of her career to earn bronze on the one-meter springboard at the SEC Championships. She was also one of the top divers in the SEC on the three-meter board, winning five times in dual meets and posting the second-best score in the conference (372.38).
Lamendola has been solid for South Carolina throughout the year, scoring on both the one (20th) and three-meter (22nd) boards at the SEC Championships, while Malvasio just missed getting in the top 24 on the one-meter (27th) and three-meter (26th).
"Our Girls have been strong all year," Sherritt said. "Patti Kranz, coming off getting the bronze at the SEC Championships, looks very strong going in. If she is on, she will clearly make it in on the one or three-meter. Lauren and Chay have been diving very well all year. They will have to step it up to get in. They both have had a great week, so I am looking for a strong performance from them."
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