Zhang gets bumped off podium in NCAA return

By Matt Wells, @mattwells_DE

Junior diver Kaixuan “Sherry” Zhang returned to the NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championship but did not qualify for the final in either the 1-meter or 3-meter dive.

Zhang finished 21st place in the 3-meter dive preliminary round with a score of 318.20. Last year she scored 389.20.

“It’s hard to hold up at the top of 3 [meter dive,]” Saluki diving coach Joy Zhao said.



Zhang placed 24th in the 1-meter dive preliminary, scoring 285.35. Her score was 3.05 points better than last year, where she scored 282.30. She finished 11th last season.

Zhao said Zhang’s first dive was not great, but after that she did very well.

“She didn’t give up,” Zhao said.

Zhang’s scores this year would have qualified her last year. Only the top-16 divers qualify in both NCAA Championship final.

Zhao said Zhang is going to qualify again for the NCAA Championship in 2016. She has one last season to build upon her successful Saluki career.

Zhang was recognized as MVC Diver of the Week nine consecutive times this season. She was later named MVC Diver of the Year, First Team All-MVC and MVC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

As a sophomore, she was a five-time Missouri Valley Conference Diver of the Week honoree. Zhang was First Team All-MVC and MVC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

This season, she finished first in both the 1-meter and 3-meter dives at every meet before the zone diving qualifying meet, where she finished second in both.  

Last season, she did not finish worse than third place in any event throughout the season, except in the NCAA Championship. 

Zhang was one of two Missouri Valley Conference divers, along with Illinois State senior diver Wenting Zhang, to qualify for the meet in Greensboro, N.C.

“I’m so proud of that honor,” Zhao said. “That we had two divers in the NCAA from our conference.”

While there is no guarantee of what Zhang will accomplish from here on out because every season is different, Zhao said she is confident Zhang will continue to succeed.

Matt Wells can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-6311 ext. 269.