March 10, 2005
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech will host the 2005 NCAA Zone Diving Championships in the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center, Friday-Sunday, March 11-13. The diving championship meet will begin with the men’s one-meter springboard at 10:30 a.m. on Friday morning.
“For Georgia Tech and the city of Atlanta, it’s great to have an elite diving competition here on campus to see, and it’s a good preview for what we will see next year at the NCAA Championships,” said diving coach John Ames.
The top 13 men and 11 women will advance to the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships. The women’s NCAA meet will be March 17-19, in West Lafayette, Ind, at Purdue University. Minnesota will host the men’s NCAA meet, March 24-26, in Minneapolis, Minn.
The Yellow Jackets will have four athletes competing in the diving championships. On the men’s side, sophomore Tony Burkhardt and freshman Evan Stowers will be diving. Junior Laurissa Prystaj and freshman Stephanie England will compete for the Jackets.
Burkhardt, a native of Phoenix, Ariz., earned All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors on the one-meter springboard and carries a top score of 346.58 on the one-meter board, a school record. Burkhardt posted an eighth-place finish on the three-meter board at the ACC Championships after hurting himself on his first dive and persevering through the final dives. He qualified for the Zone Diving Championship meet as a freshman and tallied a 12th-place finish on the three-meter board (513.85).
“If Tony Burkhardt puts together a list of dives like he did in the finals of one meter at ACC’s, he will have a great shot of making the national meet,” said Ames. “Each of the divers can dive well enough to get there, but they can’t give anything away. The divers in this zone are some of the best collegiate divers in the country, therefore we get the most spots for Nationals, and we need them, because there is a lot of talent here.”
Stowers led the Jackets on the three-meter springboard at the ACC meet with a fifth-place finish, scoring a school record 537.20 in 11 dives. The Independence, Ky., native finished 16th on the one-meter board after missing his first dive, tallying a score of 246.10.
“Evan’s got an outside shot on every board, but he tends to be more consistent on three meter and platform in the big meets, so that’s where our focus has been,” said Ames.
Prystaj will compete in her third straight Zone Diving Championship meet. A native of Fairport, N.Y., Prystaj finished 18th on the three-meter board and 20th on the one-meter board at the University of Georgia last season. She posted top-eight finishes on the springboards at the ACC Championships, finishing seventh on the one-meter board (267.35) and broke the school record on the three-meter board (488.70).
“Laurissa’s best shot is on the three meter,” said Ames. “She finaled on the three meter last year at this event, and should be able to move up even more this year. If she does her Optionals like she did at finals in ACC’s, look for her to be in the top 10.”
England, a native of Titusville, Fla., scored a season-best 434.30 on the three-meter board in 11 dives to finish in eighth place at the ACC meet. England posted a 16th-place finish on the one-meter springboard (216.10) for the Jackets. She specializes on the platform and finished second during the exhibition ACC competition with a score of 373.20.
“Stephanie’s shot is on the Platform,” said Ames. “That’s where most of our focus has been all year. She can hang with them on three meter, as she proved at our Invitational and at ACC’s, but she is primarily a platform diver.”
The Zone Diving meet will be free admission and can be followed on Zone Diving Central.
“It’s going to be a very competitive meet, and Tech is going in with our best talent ever.”
-GT SWIMMING & DIVING-