Zhang set for NCAA Diving Championships

    Zhang was named the 2014 Missouri Valley Conference Diver of the Year.

    Zhang was named the 2014 Missouri Valley Conference Diver of the Year.

    March 19, 2014

    Tim McCaughan

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    CARBONDALE, Ill. - Kaixuan 'Sherry' Zhang is ready to represent the Salukis this week at the biggest event of the season, the three-day NCAA Championships, hosted by the University of Minnesota.

    Competition is set for Thursday through Saturday at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center, but Zhang will compete in both the one and three-meter diving competitions held on Thursday and Friday. Minneapolis is serving as the host site for the first time since 2007 and fourth time since 1993. Morning preliminaries begin daily at 11 a.m. and evening finals are set for 7 p.m. There will be live video webcasts available for all sessions, with ESPN3 and WatchESPN providing the free live coverage of the finals sessions Friday and Saturday.

    Zhang automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships with her first-place finish in the three-meter competition and her third-place finish in the 1-meter competition at the NCAA Zone C Diving Championships last week.

    With her finish in the three-meter dive Saturday the 2014 MVC Diver of the Year becomes the third women's diver to take the top-spot at the Zone Diving events in school history. Zhang scored a 709.90 to lead the rest of the field by 20 points in the three-meter dive. She scored 342.30 in the preliminary round to sit in second-place behind Kentucky's Christina Cabot, but a finals round score of 367.60 vaulted her into first and to the programs first NCAA Diving Championship since 1995.

    The Hu Bei, China native finished the one-meter event on last Friday behind Purdue's Casey Matthews, who bested the field of 45 divers with a score of 616.20, and Illinois State's Wengting Zhang who finished second.

    Zhang is the third women's diver to represent the Salukis and just the fourth diver in program history to qualify for the NCAA Diving Championships. The last Saluki to qualify for the NCAA's was seven-time All-American Rob Siracusano who finished competed in four NCAA meets and finished fifth at the 1994 World Championship Trials.

    Earlier in the season Zhang broke the school and pool records in both the one and three-meter dives several times. At the start of the year the school record in the three-meter was set at 313.55 by Lisa Holland in 1996. At the 2014 MVC Championship, Zhang broke her own record she set previously in the year by scoring 439.40 on the springboard.