The men and women’s diving team earned several top placements at the Diving Invitational facing the University of Delaware and Towson, in the Carpenter Sports Building on Feb. 4.
Ryan Kuser, the lone senior and standout star on the men’s team, dominated the Division I competition, earning the first place slot in the 1-meter and 3-meter dives to set an example for the three younger divers.
Michelle Murphy and Kelsey Tennett led the effort for the women, switching fifth and sixth place slots in the 1m and 3m boards.
On the men’s side, Kuser went head-to-head against Towson’s sophomore Alex Cohen in the 1m dive. Ultimately, Cohen’s score of 293.10 could not surpass Kuser’s 325.6 on their six dives. He was the only diver to score above 300.
WCU freshman Jonas Raider took the fifth place slot in the 1m, scoring 268.3. Sophomore Kurt van Mol took sixth with a 244.6, while freshman Zach Burns took seventh with a 241.05.
The 3m yielded similar results, as Kuser conquered the opposition, taking first place with a score of 341.2, leaving Cohen behind, who posted 318.34.
Raider came in fifth again with a 266.8, while van Mol took seventh with a 221.3, and Burns took ninth with a 209.3.
“I wasn’t necessarily happy with how I did at the meet— it wasn’t once of my best performances,” Raider said of his fifth place ranking after the meet. “I did work on more skills at this meet, so I was happy with the fact that they helped me in some of my dives that I hadn’t done well in before.”
Van Mol discussed the healthy competition that Kuser provides as the team’s most consistent and high-scoring diver.
“Kuser’s example definitely motivates me, as well as the rest of the team,” van Mol said of the NCAA qualifying senior. “Seeing someone competing harder dives than you are doing encourages you to keep pushing forward to try and reach that level. He performs well, not only in the pool, but also academically. We will all miss him as a friend and mentor next year.”
Kuser, Raider and van Mol qualified for the NCAA’s, which occur next month.
For the women’s team, Towson senior Caroline Baker earned first place in both the 1m and 3m dives.
Murphy was the highest scoring WCU diver taking fifth place in the 1m posting a 252.4. Tennett finished just behind her in sixth place with a 249.6. Michelle Heinemann trailed behind placing eighth with a 229.45.
Murphy and Tennett swapped placements in the 3m, Tennett posting a 249.5 for fifth place and Murphy taking sixth with a 246.8. Heinemann placed seventh with a 244.35.
“I was not too disappointed about my placement because we were competing against DI schools and the other girls were pretty consistent,” Murphy said. “However I did not do my best and I know I could have placed better than I did.”
The team now preps for the NCAA’s which will take place in March.
“There have been many challenges in my diving career that have made me a stronger diver,” Murphy said. “The bigger competitions that I have either failed or succeeded in give me more motivation for the next time. It has become important to see how much I can improve over the years from meet to meet.” Murphy’s optimism will serve her team well when she and teammates Tennett and Heinemann take on Nationals.
Although the team does not make another appearance for several weeks, the teams will be far from relaxing.
“Preparing for NCAA’s will be anything but a break,” van Mol said. “We recently started lifting weights again and practicing more rigorously. Over the course of the next month leading up to nationals, we will keep practicing every day in hopes of performing well in Texas.”
Murphy expressed similar aspirations for the NCAA’s.
“This year I am hoping to improve on my placing from the past two years so I know it will take a lot of hard work,” Murphy said. “I just have to focus a lot more at practice for the next few weeks.”
While the diving team preps for nationals, the swimming team prepares for the PSAC’s which begin this Thursday and end on Sunday evening at Cumberland Valley High School.
The men and women’s diving team will perform at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships in Texas from March 14 until March 17.
Brynn Dougherty is a fourth-year student majoring in economics and finance with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at BD670913@wcupa.edu.