FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – NAU's diving team will compete with divers from 11 other schools on Friday and Saturday at the AFA Diving Invitational hosted by the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. The six divers on NAU's swimming & diving roster will compete on 1-meter, 3-meter, and platform along with many of the top divers in the western region.
"We're really just trying to get the consistency down and make sure that they are competing well while trying to use this as a trial run for conference," NAU diving coach Nikki Huffman said. "We can see where we're at and what areas we need to improve on and train for the conference and (NCAA) Zone championships."
Among the 11 other diving programs joining NAU for the meet will be WAC foe Idaho and Pac-12 school UCLA. The meet will be just the second time this season that the Lumberjacks have competed on platform, though the divers trained on tower during NAU's training camps in Tucson and South Florida.
Air Force's Cadet Natatorium is also the host pool for the NCAA Zone E diving meet as this weekend's competition comes with the added benefit of getting divers accustomed to the pool before they attempt to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
"The more we can see platform, the better off we are," Huffman said. "Another nice thing is that they can feel comfortable about the facility. Obviously Zone's is a much bigger competition with more divers but just knowing the facility and the boards really makes it nice."
NAU has dominated diving in the WAC this season - especially on 1-meter, where NAU has the top six scores thus far in the conference. Four of those top six scores have come from senior Kristy Ardavanis, who broke the Wall Aquatic Center 1-meter and 3-meter records with career high scores last weekend. Freshman Chelsea Jackson and junior Gwen Smithberg have the third and fifth best scores on the board, respectively, while Smithberg posted the top platform score in the WAC this season with a 216.00 total at the Arizona Diving Invite.
Ardavanis, who has won four WAC Diver of the Week awards this year, has the top 3-meter score in the WAC this year and four of the top five scores on the board so far this season. She as well as Jackson and Smithberg have all already posted Zone qualifying scores on both 1-meter and 3-meter, ensuring their spot in the NCAA qualifying meet in March.
The AFA Diving Invitational begins at 10 a.m. Friday with 1-meter followed by platform at 5 p.m. and 3-meter diving on Saturday beginning at 12:40 p.m. There will also be six schools competing in the men's diving competition at the meet.