The UCLA diving team traveled across town over the weekend to have its skills put to the test in the Trojan Diving Invitational, which took place from Friday to Sunday. UCLA faced off against nine other teams, including USC, Fresno State and San Diego State.
Over the three days of competition the Bruins saw 10 top-10 finishes.
For coach Tom Stebbins, the invitational serves as a midway point and as an opportunity for him to see where his team is at.
“It’s like midterms,” Stebbins said. “Are you gaining the information you need to get, and are you executing it when you need to execute it?”
On Friday, senior Annika Lenz came in fifth in the 3-meter final with a score of 578.25 and was followed by sophomore Eloise Belanger in sixth and junior Ciara Monahan in seventh.
Sophomores Kat Friese and Madeline Russell came in 12th and 13th, respectively.
“We struggled a little bit on Friday,” Stebbins said. “I didn’t think they showed enough competitive toughness.”
As if speaking to this point, the three girls rallied Saturday to turn the meet in UCLA’s favor. Belanger, with a score of 589.65, and Monahan, with a score of 562.65, snagged the top two spots in the 1-meter final, while Lenz came in fourth.
Friese finished eighth and Russell came in 13th.
This rebound from Friday’s event held special significance for Monahan, whose score in Saturday’s event was her career best.
“I went into the day with a brand new fresh start,” Monahan said. “I think of each meet and each event separately.”
To finish off the weekend, Lenz and Belanger finished second and third in the platform competition with respective scores of 518.60 and 499.15. Friese came in seventh. Lenz and Belanger were outscored only by USC’s Madison Witt, who also took first in the 3-meter competition.
Stebbins said that while it’s always nice to beat No. 7 USC, that was not the team’s goal going into the invitational.
Belanger and Lenz earned a spot in the NCAA Zone Meet for all three events. Monahan qualified in the 1-meter and 3-meter, while Friese earned a spot for platform. At Zones, divers have the chance to qualify for the NCAA Division I Diving Championships, which will take place from March 15 to March 17 in Indianapolis.
“We’re ahead of schedule maybe a little bit, maybe ahead of where I hoped we could be and where I thought we could be,” Stebbins said. “We have some things we certainly have to address but overall I’m really pleased with where we’re at. … The way they’re working, they’re giving themselves the best chance to be as great as they can be.”
Lenz said that she wants to give it her all in practice and hopes that if she does, results will come.
“I’m aiming to compete really consistently, … perform a little bit more like I do in practice because I’ve been having some good practices that didn’t necessarily show in my dives,” Lenz said.
Monahan adopted a similar outlook.
“I think if we just take what we do in practice and put it into what we do in a meet, the results will be really good,” she said.