Ardavanis, Jackson and Smithberg compete at NCAA Zone E qualifying meet

 
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BY ELIZABETH SEARS —

Northern Arizona University (NAU) divers senior Kristy Ardavanis, freshman Chelsea Jackson and junior Gwen Smithberg competed at the NCAA Zone E qualifying meet hosted by the Air Force Academy on March 14, 15 and 16. The divers were competing individually for one of the nine spots for the NCAA Championships.

Ardavanis would have been the second diver in NAU history to make the championships, but came up short and was named an alternate for the NCAA Championships.

“She put herself in a spot that could have had an opportunity to make NCAA Nationals,” said diving coach Nikki Huffman. “Probably one more point higher, she would have been going, but she did a great job.”

Ardavanis scored a 281.95 in the three-meter event, placing 16th out of 49 divers in the preliminary round. Ardavanis advanced to the final and remained in 16th with a score of 282.45 and an overall total of 564.40. In the one-meter event, Ardavanis placed 12th with a score of 266.40 in the preliminary round and advanced to the final. There, she jumped six spots with a score of 284.95 in the final and finished sixth overall with a score of 551.35. She was just .55 away from fifth place. Ardavanis did not compete in the platform event.

“I did really well; it has been a long season and I have had to overcome a lot,” Ardavanis said. “I could have polished a little better, but overall I did really well, so I cannot complain.”

Jackson and Smithberg competed in the NCAA Zone qualifying meet for the first time in their NAU diving careers.

Jackson made her first career final in the one-meter event, placing 18th in the preliminary round with a score of 258.45. She finished 15th in the final with an overall score of 520.15. Jackson placed 42nd in the three-meter event and 24th in the platform event.

“Chelsea (Jackson) made the finals on the one-meter and the fact that she did that and she has only been diving a short time is very nice,” Huffman said.

Smithberg led the way for the Lumberjacks in the platform event, placing 19th. Smithberg placed 32nd in the three-meter event and placed 46th in the one-meter event.

“Gwen (Smithberg) was in the hunt in a couple different events to make the finals, but just missed them in the end,” Huffman said.

The Lumberjacks finished their successful season and Ardavanis competed in her last events as a Lumberjack.

“I am really sad. Diving has taught me a lot and made me the person I am,” Ardavanis said.  “I think I will be more sad when I start to miss it more.”

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