March 12, 2005
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Fifth-year senior All-American Meghan Perry-Eaton (Brandon, Fla./Bloomingdale H.S.) finished third in one-meter action at the NCAA Zone C Diving Championships Saturday afternoon at the Boilermaker Aquatic Center, earning herself a berth in the NCAA Championships for the third consecutive season. Last year’s zone champion and third-place finisher at the national meet, Perry-Eaton will join swimmers Christel Bouvron (Singapore, Singapore/Raffles Girls’ Secondary School) and Katie Carroll (Toledo, Ohio/Notre Dame Academy) at the NCAAs, slated for next week, March 17-19, at the same facility on the campus of Purdue University.
Perry-Eaton turned in the second-highest score in prelims, 286.15, and then registered a 302.50 in finals for a 12-dive combined score of 588.65 that came in behind champ Christina Lakos of Indiana (614.50) and runner-up Carrie McCambridge (596.90) of Purdue. She was more than 20 points clear of the fourth-place finisher, Cassandra Cardinell (568.60).
The first dive of the meet for Perry-Eaton, a back 1.5 somersault, earned her a score of 44.85 that placed her 10th after one round. But she jumped up five spots after a reverse 1.5 somersault for which she scored 48.00 points. After dropping one position after the next round, it was her fourth dive that moved her into third place, scoring 49.20 on a forward 2.5 somersault. A 54.60 on dive #5 (her highest score of the day), a reverse 1.5 somersault with 1.5 twists, moved her past Ohio State’s Julie Broms into second place, which is where she finished prelims, 18.90 points behind Lakos and 0.80 points ahead of third-place McCambridge. A bad round-five dive dropped Broms to 16th heading into finals. Round 10 saw the Boilermaker ascend to second place, but Perry-Eaton entered the final dive just .55 points behind McCambridge, who hit an inward 1.5 somersault for 55.20 points to secure second place.
Last year, Perry-Eaton won the one-meter title at the NCAA Zone C Diving Championships and then went on to finish third at the NCAA meet, just 3.30 points behind the national champion. Saturday was just the second time in 11 competitions in 2004-05 that Perry-Eaton did not take first, and Lakos joined McCambridge as the only two divers to beat her this season. The Boilermaker gained a 10.65-point victory in dual-meet action last October in the same facility.
Perry-Eaton, the BIG EAST Championships Most Outstanding Diver in each of the last three years and a five-time conference champ (2003, ’04, and ’05 in one-meter), remains one of just two Notre Dame divers (also four-time qualifier and 2002 graduate Heather Mattingly) ever to earn invitations to the NCAAs. She is the seventh Irish student-athlete to qualify for the national meet on three or more occasions, but the first to ever do it in her final three seasons of eligibility after not doing so before that. Perry-Eaton has finished among the top three in one-meter action at the zone meet for three consecutive years (third in 2003 before winning in ’04).
It is the eighth time in the last nine years that Notre Dame has had at least three qualifiers to the NCAA meet.
The zone C meet will conclude on Sunday with the platform competition, which will not see Perry-Eaton compete. Seven of the top divers from the meet earn invitations to the national championships: the top three finishers from both springboard competitions, as well as the platform champion.