March 10, 2014
BLACKSBURG, Va. – Five University of Connecticut divers are set to compete in the Zone A Diving Championships, which take place Monday through Wednesday this week in the Christiansburg Aquatic Center at Virginia Tech.
The championships are one of five meets around the county which give divers a chance to qualify for the NCAA Championships. Zone A is made up of schools in the northeast, and last year over 30 schools and nine conferences took part in the meet. This week’s championships feature three events, the 1-meter, 3-meter and platform, and the divers that finish in the top four in each event will automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships.
Divers will also have a chance to qualify for the NCAA Championships on an allocation system based on the previous year’s results, as the top two on both the platform and 1-meter event will qualify, while the top three from the 3-meter event will also be invited to the championships.
Senior Anthony Cortright (Wallingford, Conn.) and sophomore John Brice (Bala Cynwood, Pa.) are the two male divers going for UConn, while sophomore Taryn Urbanus (Quincy, Mass.) and freshmen Michelle Kalupski (Chicago, Ill.) and Alexandra Butera (Havertown, Pa.) are competing for the women’s side.
“I’m real happy with where they are,” UConn diving coach John Bransfield said. “They’re mature kids that have a pretty good sense of where their heads need to be now. They’ve been resting the past couple of days and fine tuning everything.”
This week’s competitions will be the second Zone Meet for Brice, who finished in the top 18 in both events last year, and his experience from last season should help him come Monday.
“I know it will help him a great deal mentally and psychologically,” Bransfield said. “He had shoulder surgery in August but he has made great strides in the last 12 weeks since he’s been back.”
The Huskies are three weeks removed from competing in the inaugural American Athletic Swimming and Diving Championships, which featured a similar atmosphere that they will see this week. While it's a short rest between two high-level meets, Bransfield says their experience at the conferece meet will benefit them at the Zone Meet.
“They are competition ready,” Bransfield said. “There will be a judging panel of seven judges, which is something they don’t face too often. The fact that they had that situation a couple of weeks ago will definitely help them.”