Cyclone Divers Peaking at the Right Time
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That took place in early January at the Georgia Diving Invitational. The Cyclone divers were not at a low point going into the meet. Sarah Nelson and Jessica Henderson had earned career-high scores on at least one board and both had punched tickets to the NCAA Zone Diving Championships in March. Nelson was also the reigning Big 12 Diver of the Week for her efforts against Iowa.
On day one at the invite, the 1-meter competition did not go well. Iowa State’s high finisher was Henderson in 21st place in the 30 diver field and the Cyclones only posted one 40-point dive among their six divers. Henderson looked to have helped steer the Iowa State ship on day two, on the verge of qualifying for the 3-meter diving finals. However, a failed final dive left her on the outside looking in and the Cyclones shutout of the 16-person finals field. Iowa State recovered a little on platform, with Nelson taking 13th in the event, but the damage had been done.
“That did not go as planned in terms of what we wanted,” diving coach Jeff Warrick commented. “By the end of that meet we sat down and talked about it. Some of the things we wanted to change a little sooner than normal we had to change.”
Among those changes was tempo. Iowa State had dove at a fast pace also season with dual meets and the small diving field at the TYR Invitational in November allowing for it. With 30 divers competing on 1-meter and 3-meter and 22 on platform at Georgia, things had to be slowed down. Warrick wanted to get his divers into the proper mental state for the longer meets and he felt that the Cyclones needed to start that process early.
“We began to prepare earlier than normal for championship season,” Warrick noted. “We talked about changing practices to start accounting for that and get more time in between purposely so they would have the chance to establish that rhythm.”
No stone has been left unturned by Warrick and Iowa State’s divers in the process of preparing for the championship meets that close the season.
“Another thing we did was dive 3-meter early in the morning,” Warrick said. “At the Big 12 Championships, it is going to be our earliest event and typically that is the toughest to dive early. We have been diving on Saturday mornings for 3-meter and platform.”
Nelson finished her dual meet career on a high last weekend. The senior swept the 1-meter and 3-meter diving events in the two-day dual meet against Kansas. Nelson controlled the 1-meter competition, finishing first in prelims and first in finals emerging from a three-diver race for the top between Henderson and Kansas’ Christy Cash to complete the sweep. Her performances were crucial to Iowa State’s 158-142 victory over the Jayhawks.
“Overall, she has improved on being consistent and that is what we have been talking about all season long,” Warrick observed. “If we can put a consistent list together she will have those high scores. By no means has she done her best dives altogether, but she has done very good dives and that has been the difference.”
Consistency has been a word thrown around the Iowa State diving well all season. The Cyclone divers have put together plenty of high scores but finding that consistent touch has been the challenge.
“I wish I knew the exact formula,” a laughing Warrick said. “First of all, they have to know what they are trying to do technique-wise. After that, they need the opportunity to do repetitions of the dives. We do a lot of things with that, including workouts on the dry board, which gives them many opportunities to put everything together.”
An example of that challenge early in the season was Henderson. The redshirt sophomore posted a career-high score of 291.15 on 3-meter at South Dakota State on Oct. 29. However, her 3-meter average after the Iowa meet only came out to 257.14. Since the Georgia Diving Invite, Henderson has averaged 286.73 on 3-meter.
“Jessica has had the time to prepare,” Warrick noted. “Through that time she has seen changes in a positive direction. It improves their confidence in themselves and in what they can do.”
Jenn Botsch did not compete for the Cyclones until November due to medical setbacks. After a slow start, Botsch finally put up a big performance during the 3-meter prelims against Kansas, posting a 279.08, the third-highest score of her career. Botsch has yet to hit the qualifying score on 3-meter but Warrick believes she can still get the job done.
“Jenn has had to trust that all the work she has done will give her the confidence to trust her ability,” Warrick noted. “She went and got the Zone Diving score right away in October last season. That ability has not left and she knows her ability is still there.”
Warrick thinks he knows what the keys are to Iowa State being among the top teams on the boards in Columbia, Mo. next week.
“In the end, we have to focus on the process,” Warrick stated. “When they are having fun, supporting each other and into the team versus internalizing to themselves we do so much better. That is the mindset I want them to be in because that will set the environment that will allow for those performances that will score points for the team.”
Warrick has confidence the Cyclones will deliver.
“I know they are going to be ready,” Warrick concluded. “They showed it the last couple of weeks. Things have been going well.”