Diver hopes to make splash at regionals

U diver Sterling Richards is in Oklahoma City today, where he will begin competition at the NCAA Diving Regional Qualifiers.

For Richards, it is a return to the site where he won the 3-meter dive at the MWC Championships, and U diving coach Rachel Degener hopes Richards’ success at the Aquatic Center in Oklahoma City will repeat itself.

“The fact that he’s competing in the same place he competed in at regionals is a big help,” U diving coach Rachel Degener said. “He won the 3-meter the last time he was here, and we like his chances to do the same this weekend.”

Richards qualified for regionals on the strength of an outstanding season, where he consistently dominated the competition in the conference.

He finished first in the 3 meter and second in the 1-meter at the MWC championships, and as a result he was named the MWC diver of the year.

He was also named MWC diver of the week three times.

All of this success occurred after Richards missed the first month of the season with a knee injury.

“Since Sterling has come back from his injury, he’s been the dominant leader of this team, from the locker room to the standings,” Degener said.

“He’s put an outstanding season together and we hope he can build on that this weekend,” he added.

There are approximately 24 divers competing in Oklahoma City this weekend, and the top seven will qualify: the top two in the platform, the top two in the 1 meter, and the top three in the 3 meter.

This configuration bodes well for Richards, whose specialty is the 3-meter dive.

“We feel his chances are really good,” Degener said. “Last year, two divers from the MWC qualified for nationals, and Sterling beat both of them twice this year.”

The divers to which Degener is referring are Justin Beardall and Scott Randall of BYU. Although Richards did defeat Beardall twice in the 3-meter, Beardall returned the favor in the 1-meter, so the competition between the two is very close.

Randall isn’t far behind the two, as he finished first in the platform and third in both the 1- and 3 meter springboards.

BYU has certainly supplied plenty of competition for Richards, but Cougar diving coach Keith Russell may also have provided Richards with some motivation.

“Although we will be competing against divers from the MWC, our main competition will come from the Pac-10,” Russell said.

The only other diver attending from the MWC is Adam Miller of Wyoming, who was named MWC diver of the week three times this season.

Whether or not the comment was intended to take a shot at Richards is unclear, but either way it gives Richards plenty to prove.

Regardless of the potential extra fire that the comment made, Richards already has enough incentive to compete well and qualifying at the regionals will quench his thirst.

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