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Divers look for fast start in Pittsburgh

<p>Sophomore diver Nicole Scott finished first in the Knights’ last
two meets this season in the 3-meter dive. She leads Rutgers today
in Pennsylvania.</p>

Sophomore diver Nicole Scott finished first in the Knights’ last two meets this season in the 3-meter dive. She leads Rutgers today in Pennsylvania.

Everything the Rutgers diving team worked toward throughout the past year is on display today and Saturday, when it competes in the Big East Championships in Pittsburgh.

The job is diving coach Fred Woodruff’s to see that the Scarlet Knights improve from last seasons’ fourth-place finish in the same competition. With more than a week between the last Rutgers meet and the championships, the divers worked on their techniques to give them a better chance on the boards.

“We’ve been working on aspects of our dives that need a little work still,” Woodruff said. “We just want to sharpen up. I think they’re ready to go out there and do some diving.”

Day 1 features the 3-meter event for the Knights and the rest of the field. The preliminaries take place in the afternoon, followed by the consolation finals. The final of the event takes place tonight at 6 p.m.

The Knights’ best chance in the event comes from sophomore Nicole Scott.

Scott has been the most consistent 3-meter diver this year after the departure of junior Carissa Santora midway through the season. She placed first in the  past two regular season matches, registering a 311.70 score from in the Jan. 28 matchup against Fordham and Rider.

With Big East diving powers Connecticut, Louisville and Notre Dame participating, Scott serves as Rutgers’ opportunity at having a Knight in the 3-meter final. She placed ninth last year in the event with a score of 283.70.

“I see her as our strongest diver on 3 meter,” Woodruff said. “We’re stronger [in the 3 meter] and more confident there. It will be interesting to see.”

The Toronto native also needs to finish strong in Day 2 of the championships, when the 1-meter dive takes place. Along with Scott, junior Katie Kearney looks to aid Rutgers’ success in the 1-meter event.

Kearney scored a 288.65-point first-place finish in the Knights’ last regular season meet and has been Rutgers’ most impressive 1-meter diver. Despite a shoulder injury she sustained earlier in the year, the junior consistently delivered top-three finishes in the event.

“I’m hoping [Kearney and Scott] battle it out [in the 1 meter],” Woodruff said. “If they battle it out, we are going to do real well.”

Sophomore Gordon Valentina also gives Rutgers a chance, and freshman Nicole Honey showed she has the ability to perform well in the 3-meter, Woodruff said.

“She’s still learning stuff, but she can light it up on 3 meters, so you never know,” Woodruff said. “She has potential to really light it up.”

Their performance also serves as a springboard for the swimmers. Head swimming and diving coach Phil Spiniello brings the Knights back next weekend for the swimming portion of the Big East Championships.

“We want to score a lot of points so that we have a nice edge when we get to swimming,” Woodruff said. “My goal is to give those swimmers every point we can give them.”

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