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Hoosiers start strong on first day of NCAA Zone Diving Championships



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 IU senior Michal Bower completes her round three dive at the NCAA Diving Zone C Championships. She qualified for the NCAA Championships to be held in Indianapolis later this week. Katie Franke Buy Photos

Day one of the Zone C Championships proved fruitful for the Hoosiers.

At their home Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatics Center, IU qualified four of its five divers who competed Thursday for the NCAA Championships at the Zone C Diving Championships.

“It’s a tough meet,” Michael Hixon said. “Zones are always tough for everybody. They’re long and the competition is really tough, so you know two girls qualifying on 3-meter and me and James (Connor) qualifying on 1-meter is a great start.”

Hixon and Connor, both juniors, were important players for the men’s team.

Hixon won the 1-meter springboard championship ahead of Purdue’s Steele Johnson by a score of 831.80 to 813.00. Connor also qualified for the NCAA Championships in the event by finishing fourth on the 1-meter.

“You know this is a really hard meet to dive in, as you can tell,” head diving coach Drew Johansen said. “They’ve been diving for four hours straight. Coming off the emotion of the Big Ten Championships, they handled themselves like pros, they were great today.”

Junior Cody Coldren had a solid performance as well, as he finished 11th out of the 18 finalists.

“As Cody gets higher, Cody gets better,” Johansen said. “So if Cody can get his A-cut tomorrow or in the next day we’ll have all five of them going to NCAA’s.”

On the women’s side, junior Jessica Parratto and senior Michal Bower lived up to the hype. Parratto finished second in the 3-meter dive, while Bower finished third.

“This meet is always a marathon,” Parratto said. “We call it marathon diving. We’ve been diving since 11, so it’s been about six hours, but you know this is all about consistency, just literally landing on your hands for 12 dives, same for the boys. So I couldn’t be prouder of the team.”

Bower, a senior from Loveland, Colorado, injured herself during the 1-meter dive at the Big Ten Championships and could not compete subsequently in the 3-meter or 10-meter platform.

Johansen said he was impressed with Bower’s performance.

“Michal gets the performance of the day award,” Johansen said. “Coming off of the injury that she took at the Big Tens, having to scratch that event, it being one of her better events, and she showed us how good she was today.”

After hours of diving Thursday, the Hoosiers will be back on the boards again beginning at 1 p.m. Friday for the women’s 3-meter and men’s 1-meter.

“For now it’s just about doing what we can to kind of lighten the load, and the stress and the expectations kind of moving through the next few days” Connor said.

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