Rutgers brings Big Ten Diver of the Week into second straight tri-meet
The Rutgers swimming and diving team received exciting news during its preparation this week, as diver Addison Walkowiak was named Big Ten Diver of the Week.
Walkowiak — a junior from Ballston Spa, N.Y. — won first place in both the 1-meter and 3-meter events this past weekend, when the Scarlet Knights faced Penn State and Yale in University Park, Pa.
“It felt really good,” Walkowiak said. “We just got off of training where we did doubles almost every single day over winter break. So we are putting in a lot of hard work, and it just felt good to show what we have been working on through the meet and then getting the 1-meter and 3- meter win.”
And Walkowiak's hard work finally came to fruition when the accolade was announced on Wednesday.
“It was very exciting, Addi has been doing great work. She’s a grinder. She puts the time and effort in, and you can see that in her results… She’s on a roll and doing great things. I’m really proud of her," said head coach Petra Martin.
The Knights are set to travel down south for their next meet, in which they will face off with Virginia Tech and Cincinnati on Jan. 20 and Jan. 21 in Christiansburg, Va. With Christiansburg set to host the NCAA Zones, this weekend's meet should also be good preparation for Walkowiak, who earned two NCAA Zone cuts last week.
“That’s a very competitive meet, Virginia Tech has some really good divers and so does Cincinnati, so I think it’ll be a good meet,” Walkowiak said. “Virginia Tech is also where NCAA Zones are hosted, so it will be good to get used to the boards and see some of the divers that I’ll be competing against."
Rutgers comes into this weekend's tri-meet with a boost of confidence knowing it has the conference diver of the week on its squad.
“For us, the focus is always on Big Ten’s and NCAA’s, these meets in between are like stepping stones and checkpoints for us to see what we need to keep working on and see where we are,” Martin said. “These meets challenge us in different ways. We have been on the road a lot this year, which is something that we need to do in order to become a tougher, tighter team."
Senior diver Alyssa Black placed second in the 3-meter dive and third in the 1-meter dive, both resulting in NCAA Zone qualifying marks.
“I think we’ve done a really good job this season and I can only see great things coming ahead as Big Ten’s approach,” Black said. “We’ve been doing really well with all the training that we’ve been putting in and applying that to the meets themselves.”
Sophomore Rachel Byrne also had a NCAA Zone qualifying mark in the 3-meter event this past weekend.
“I think we are going to stay pretty consistent since our training has been consistent and we’ve been making a lot of improvements in detail at this point,” Black said. “I think we can get even better.”
Cincinnati is coming off a strong showing last week, where the Bearcats finished in second place when they faced Kenyon, Oakland and Ohio State at home.
Junior Jacqueline Keire earned her third American Athletic Conference Swimmer of the Week honor, which she has been awarded every week since she has been eligible.
The Knights' other opponent this weekend, Virginia Tech, hasn’t been performing as well recently. The Hokies are coming off a tough loss to No. 4 Virginia.
The team only has two more inter-school meets remaining on its schedule, helping it prepare for the start of championships season. The Big Ten Championships, which will be hosted by Purdue, are less than a month away and Petra Martin is confident with where the team is right now.
“We are just a couple of weeks away now from Big Ten’s," Martin said. "I think we are in a good place, and everything for us is focused on Big Ten’s and NCAA Championships, so we are following the plan and moving along the way we should.”
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