Feb. 12, 2011
By Wes Todd
Assistant Media Relations Director
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A pair of South Carolina divers will compete for the SEC Championship on Saturday night as Taryn Zack and Courtney Forcucci advanced to the women’s 1-meter finals this morning at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center Natatorium.
Zack was the top qualifier in the prelims, posting a score of 309.50 to win the preliminary and advance to the 1-meter final for the fourth straight year. For her career, she is 8-for-8 in advancing to the championship finals on both the 1- and 3-meter boards at the SEC meet, and she looks to duplicate her run to the 2009 SEC Championship in tonight’s finals. Zack finished fourth at last season’s league meet and was fifth as a freshman in 2009.
Forcucci rebounded from a tough outing in yesterday’s 3-meter competition to post a score of 285.40, good enough for sixth place in the preliminary round and a spot in tonight’s finals. She led through the first three rounds, but held on to one of the top eight spots despite faltering a bit on her final three dives. Nevertheless, her performance helps South Carolina join Auburn as the only two schools with multiple entries in tonight’s final. Forcucci is also looking for her second conference championships; she was the Conference USA champion on the 3-meter board in 2008 while a freshman at the University of Houston. She was the C-USA runner-up two straight years on the 1-meter board.
Rounding out the eight-person field will be Anna Aguero and Vennie Dantin (Auburn) and Monica Dodson (Florida) – the top three finishers in Friday night’s 3-meter finals – along with Paige McCleary (Alabama), Gabrielle Trudeau (Tennessee) and Becca St. Germain (LSU).
Senior Allison Barr scored a 236.50, finishing 21st as she returned to competition for the first time since suffering injuries in a practice mishap prior to the Tennessee Diving Invitational in January. Sophomore Chay Malvasio finished just ahead of Barr in 20th place with a 239.70.
In the men’s 1-meter preliminary, Rylan Ridenour was the top Gamecock finisher, taking 19th place with a 288.40. Nikolas Sachs scored 261.70 to finish 25th, and freshman Andrew Helmich was 26th with a score of 254.85.
The women’s 3-meter finals get underway at 5 p.m. Saturday. Live video is available through GatorZone.com.