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Divers find success en route to Big East Championships

<p>Junior Olivia Harry clinched a spot in next month’s Big East Championships under diving coach Fred Woodruff in her first full year diving.</p>

Junior Olivia Harry clinched a spot in next month’s Big East Championships under diving coach Fred Woodruff in her first full year diving.

The Rutgers swimming and diving team started its season with a 7-1 dual- and tri-meet record and has shown consistency along the way.

The diving team best exemplifies that consistency, so much so that it invokes a sense of déjà vu.

The Scarlet Knights have swept the 1-meter dive in all but one meet so far this season.

Senior co-captain Kate Kearney has led the way for the Knights in several diving events, finishing first in two of the last three 1-meter dives, both of which resulted in sweeps for the team.

Junior Nicole Scott and sophomore Nicole Honey have been just as productive.

Scott finished the Frank Elm Invitational on Nov. 18 with a school record in the platform dive. Honey recorded a career-best mark Oct. 26 against Wagner in the 1-meter dive.

Even during Rutgers’ only loss of the season to James Madison on Jan. 19, the divers took first and second in the 3-meter event.

Along with the team’s veterans, junior Olivia Harry has emerged despite little collegiate experience as a diver. She started her career as a swimmer and is only in her first full season competing on the boards.

Despite her lack of experience, Harry has managed to provide crucial points for the Knights on a weekly basis.

“I think [Harry] is the hero of the day because she’s just performing at an awesome level compared to the lack of experience that she has,” Kearney said Saturday.

Harry placed third in the 3-meter event that day against Fordham and Rider with 217.50 points and took fourth in the 1-meter with 192.55 points.

She also earned a qualifying spot in the Big East Championship next month.

“She’s really shown tremendous growth on the boards,” Spiniello said. “Qualifying for the Big East Championship meet this year was a big stepping stone for her, and I think it’s just the first of many in her diving career here in the next couple of years.”

Qualifying for the conference championship was one of Harry’s goals entering the season, but the feat came unexpectedly, she said.

“One day coach [Spiniello] went up to me after the meet and said, ‘You made it to Big East,’ and I was so excited,” Harry said. “It was the greatest accomplishment I think I’ve ever made in my whole life.”

Much of the Knights’ success on the boards is because of the team’s long-running diving coach, Fred Woodruff.

This season marks Woodruff’s 20th year in the position.

In his time at Rutgers, he has guided athletes to the finals of the Big East Championship, including a berth in the NCAA Championship meet by former Rutgers diver Jen Betz in 2011.

“He’s had tremendous results on the boards for his whole career,” Spiniello said. “Having a diving coach like that really allows the diving program to move forward every year that he’s here. He gets good athletes and continues to make them better.”

Woodruff produced four Big East Championship scorers last season. The team has momentum entering next month’s championship that could help increase that total.

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