Navy to Send Five to NCAA Zone Diving Meet
ANNAPOLIS, Md. –– Five members of the Navy diving programs will vie for berths into the NCAA Championship when they compete at the NCAA Zone A Diving Meet early next week in Pisacataway, N.J.
Mids who will be competing at the meet are Nate Belch (Sr., Tucson, Ariz.), Bradley Buchter (So., Hickory, N.C.), Patrick Carter (Fr., West Islip, N.Y.), Jake Hedrick (Fr., Hummelstown, Pa.) and Meghan Gerdes (Fr., Spring, Texas). All five will compete in both springboard events and Buchter and Hedrick are among the platform diving entrants.
“We are excited to get to Rutgers and compete,” said Navy diving coach Rich MacDonald. “It’s been a long season and we are ready for this strong competitive field. It’s good and exciting to be bringing such a young group of athletes. We have worked hard up to this point and it all comes down to these moments. Should be a lot fun.”
The Sonny Werblin Recreation Center on the Rutgers campus will play host to the meet. Competition will begin at noon on Monday and Tuesday and 11 a.m. on Wednesday. Monday’s slate features the women’s one meter and the men’s three meter, Tuesday’s schedule includes the men’s one meter and the women’s three meter and the meet concludes Wednesday with platform diving for both men and women.
Buchter made his first appearance at the Zone Championship in 2017 a memorable one as he placed fourth on the one meter and 10th in the other two events to qualify for the NCAA Championship. He would go on to place 22nd in the one meter, 49th in the three meter and 40th in the platform competition at the national meet.
Navy has sent 21 men’s divers to the NCAA Championship since the program’s first qualifier in 1942. Buchter will attempt to become just the seventh Mid to qualify for the national championship in multiple years and the first since Kevin Teague in 2004 and 2006.
Buchter prepped for the zone meet by winning both boards and being named the men’s diver of the meet at the Patriot League Championship. It is the second time in as many years in which he swept the two event titles and earned the major individual award at the meet.
Belch has qualified for the Zone Championship in each of his four years. He competed in all three disciplines as a freshman and in the two springboard events as both a sophomore and junior. He reached the finals of the three-meter competition at the 2016 meet (placed 18th) and just missed qualifying for the finals on both boards in 2017 (19th on the one meter, 20th on the three meter).
Belch placed second to Buchter in both events at this year’s league championship to earn second-team all-league accolades. He placed either first (three times) or second in seven of his eight events at the Patriot League Championship in his career, earning a pair of first-team awards and two second-team all-league nods.
Hedrick reached the championship final in both springboard events at the league meet. He placed third in the one-meter event and fourth in the three-meter competition.
Gerdes earned First-Team All-Patriot League accolades at the recent league championship after she won the three-meter board and placed fourth in the one-meter event.
The format for the two springboard events consists of six dives for all entered divers with the top-18 finishers from the preliminary round advancing to the finals where each will again perform six dives. Scores from the preliminary round are carried over into the finals. The platform event features all entered divers taking 12 dives.
NCAA schools are divided into five zones for diving based upon geographical location. Zone A consists of schools in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. Over 100 divers have qualified for the Zone A Championship on at least one board. Women had to post scores of at least 265 points to qualify for the zone meet on the one-meter board, 280 points to take part in the three-meter event and 225 points to compete in platform diving at the meet. Men were required at attain scores of at least 300 points on the one meter, 320 points on the three meter and 300 points in platform diving to advance to the zone meet on the respective boards.
Zone A will send five men’s divers on the one meter, six on the three meter and five in platform diving to the national championship, while the women will advance six divers from the one-meter, six from the three-meter and five from the platform competition to the NCAA meet. A diver qualifying in one event can also compete in any other event at the national championship in which they placed among the top-12 divers at the zone meet. Ohio State’s McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion will play host to the women’s NCAA Championship March 14-17 and Minnesota’s Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center will be the site for the March 21-24 men’s national championship.