Reinforcements Coming for Kansas Diving
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas swimming and diving reached new heights in 2016, scoring a program-best 650.5 points while finishing as the runner-up at the Big 12 Championships. Just 28 of those points came from the diving well however, a trend head diving coach Gabe Downey is looking to buck. Downey announced the signing of Peri Charapich (CHAIR-uh-pitch) on Wednesday, a high school senior who will join fall signee T.J. Duckett and late season returner Amanda Maser, effectively doubling the size of the Jayhawks roster from the start of the 2015-16 season.
Charapich, who shares a hometown (Marietta, Georgia) and former club team (Metro Atlanta Divers) with Kansas veteran Graylyn Jones, is a two-time runner-up on the one-meter boards at the Georgia High School Athletic Association 6A Championships while competing for Walton High School. She’ll join Kansas returners Jones, Nadia Khechfe, and Maser – who returned to the team after stepping away for the fall – along with Duckett for the 2016-17 season, giving Downey and the Jayhawks a much deeper roster.
“The girls that we have did a good job, but we didn’t have a big enough group, the depth that we need,” Downey said of the team’s performance at the league championship. “We have a chance though now. The swimmers are going to continue to get better, but the place where we can make a quantum leap and make this program a lot better is on our end. That’s what we’re working every day to try to do.
“We had a good discussion after Big 12s, and none of us felt very good about it and we all said we aren’t going to feel this way again. We know that we’re capable of rising up a lot and helping out the team in that way. We’ve now got two new great pieces of that puzzle, three great veteran pieces of the puzzle and it’s coming together pretty quick.”
In February, Charapich climbed from fourth place after prelims into third after semifinals and turned in a total score of 418.75 in one-meter to finish second at the state championship, improving on her tally of 404.95 in the same event as a junior. An accomplished gymnast as well, Charapich is relatively new to the sport and Downey is excited about her potential in the diving well.
“Gymnasts, often times, they’re tough – that training is hard, it’s physically demanding,” Downey said. “TJ has that same kind of background. We’re limited in how many hours we train weekly so you better work really hard, work really smart and be efficient. These are girls that are not going to shy away as we put tough things in front of them, they’re going to rise to that. That’s what we’re looking for going forward and these are great girls who will come in with the toughness, the discipline and the work ethic that we need to rise up.”
Charapich is the seventh Kansas swimming and diving signee, joining Duckett (St. Louis, Missouri) on the diving side along with swimmers Elizabeth Amato-Hanner (Omaha, Nebraska), Haley Downey (Bartlesville, Oklahoma), Jenny Nusbaum (Cary, North Carolina), Katy Schlies (Carmel, Indiana) and Carly Straight (Fort Worth, Texas) who all signed National Letters of Intent last November.
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