Khechfe, Jones Finish Third and Fourth on One-Meter Boards
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Iowa State’s Julie Dickinson posted another NCAA Zone Diving qualifying mark in finals to hold on to the top position after prelims and Kansas diving duo Nadia Khechfe and Graylyn Jones scratched out a pair of top-four finishes despite laboring on the one-meter boards to open competition at the KU Dive Invite at Robinson Natatorium Friday.
Dickson (540.7) distanced herself from teammate Elyse Brouillette (499.85) – who trailed her fellow Cylcone by just 2.10 points (254.20-252.10) after six preliminary dives – and the rest of the field by logging a 286.50 in finals, her second qualifying score for diving’s regional championship this month. While Dickinson made taking the crown look easy by scoring better than 40.3 on six final dives, including a pair of dives over 50, KU’s pair showed mental toughness to finish amongst the leaders.
Khechfe (475.15) was consistently solid despite completing just her first full dive list in more than a week while battling flu-like symptoms. She held a third-place standing after prelims (244.0), and built enough of a lead to maintain her position after the fourth-best performance in finals (231.15).
“Her experience over the years in diving showed, she was able to game it today,” Kansas diving coach Gabe Downey said. “She was able to come out and be really steady. She dove really well and I was happy with how she composed herself.”
Jones showed flashes of brilliance in both prelims and finals, including a 50.6 on a back one-and-a-half somersault pike that ended up being the third-best scoring dive from the twelve competitors in the last six rounds, but couldn’t fill the list with top marks. Jones’ best dive immediately followed her worst of the day, a 24.7 on the second attempt in finals. Still, Jones found a way to climb from fifth after prelims into the fourth spot after finals with a combined score of 463.65.
“It showed that it’s not all together yet,” Downey said. “What I really liked about (the back one-and-a-half pike) is that she did the dive that she does every day in practice – that one she hits every time, and a lot of the other dives she can do that on. The positive of that is she had one of the highest scoring dives in this contest and has the capacity to do that on all six of them, which would put her as Zones finalist and NCAA qualifier – but we have to find that out of her.”
Northern Iowa’s Allie Bey (460.9) outlasted a late surge from Iowa State’s Maggie James (460.4) for fifth place, in front of teammates Sarah Kemp (426.35) and Hannah Brummel (403.5), who finished seventh and eighth, respectively. Monica Houck was Nebraska-Omaha’s top finisher in ninth place with a two-round total of 398.5.
Competition at the KU Dive Invite continues Saturday with three-meter diving prelims at 10 a.m. inside Robinson Natatorium, with finals to follow at 6 p.m. The meet closes with platform diving (five-meter) on Sunday, with prelims at 9 a.m. and finals at 3 p.m. Downey noted as the heights get higher, so will the potential variability in scores between dives, but he’s looking forward to seeing how the team performs in the field over the remaining rounds.
“Northern Iowa and Nebraska-Omaha are teams we could see at Zones, so it’s good to see them, and Iowa State is a team we’re going to see a lot of,” Downey said. “We love that rivalry (with Iowa State), it’s one of the best type of rivalries where we respect the heck out of them and really enjoy them, but we want to beat them and they want to beat us. Today they got us, but we feel confident that as we work through training we can be where we want to be and they probably feel likewise after today. It was a great gauge and will be for the rest of the weekend. We really enjoy competing with those guys.”
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