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Courtesy: Duke Athletics
Jaina Gaudette
Blue Devil Divers Set Sights on Zone Championships
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 03/10/2019
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DURHAM, N.C. – The Blue Devils will join divers from around the region in competing for qualification to the national championships this week at the NCAA Zone B Diving Championships in Auburn, Ala.

Action begins Monday and continues through Wednesday at Auburn’s James E. Martin Aquatic Center. Preliminaries are slated for an 11 a.m. start Monday and Tuesday and platform preliminaries are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Eighty-seven divers from Alabama, Auburn, Duke, Florida, Florida Atlantic University, Florida Gulf Coast, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee will take to the boards.

The top five female and top four male divers in each event within the five zones will be eligible to compete at the NCAA Championships. Additional divers may qualify based on the number of student-athletes from a particular zone who finished in the top 16 of that event at last year’s NCAA Championships. At NCAAs, a diver may compete in any of the three disciplines provided that he or she earns one of the invitation spots and places in the top 12 of the other two events at the Zones meet.

The breakdown of Zone B qualifying spots for 2018-19 is as follows:
Women: 9 1M/8 3M/6 Platform
Men: 6 1M/7 3M/9 Platform

Blue Devil Basics
All 10 of Duke’s divers are entered in this week’s Zones competition, led by seniors Lizzie Fitzpatrick, Evan Moretti, Josh Owsiany and Mackenzie Willborn. Three freshmen will make their zone championship debuts at Auburn.

The Most Valuable Men’s Diver at this year’s ACC Championships, Moretti will look to make his fourth consecutive appearance at NCAAs after garnering honorable mention All-America accolades on the three-meter board as a freshman and at the one-meter height last season. A two-time NCAA qualifier, junior Nathaniel Hernandez will also be seeking a return trip to the national stage following a 12th-place finish on the platform at last year’s NCAA meet – good for honorable mention All-America honors.

On the women’s side, junior Jaina Gaudette looks to advance to the national championships for a second straight season, placing 22nd on the platform last spring. Willborn was an NCAA qualifier in 2017, earning a pair of top-30 finishes on the three-meter board and platform.

Head diving coach Nunzio Esposto’s group is coming off of strong performances at the ACC Championships. Moretti collected the first All-ACC accolades of his career with a second-place finish in the three-meter competition. He was also an event finalist in all three events while Hernandez reached event finals on the one-meter board and platform. Willborn also advanced to finals in two events and freshman Maddi Pullinger took home All-ACC accolades with a second-place showing on the one-meter board.

Schedule of Events
Monday, March 11
Men’s 1M Prelims 11 a.m.
Men’s 1M Finals 1:15 p.m. (18 divers)
Women’s 3M Prelims 3:15 p.m.
Women’s 3M Finals 6 p.m. (18 divers)

Tuesday, March 12
Women’s 1M Prelims 11 a.m.
Women’s 1M Finals 2 p.m. (18 divers)
Men’s 3M Prelims 4 p.m.
Men’s 3M Finals 6:15 p.m. (18 divers)

Wednesday, March 13
Women’s Platform Prelims 10 a.m.
Women’s Platform Finals 12 p.m. (18 divers)
Men’s Platform Prelims 2:15 p.m.
Men’s Platform Finals 4:15 p.m. (18 divers)