March 18, 2004
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Irish senior diver Meghan Perry-Eaton (Brandon, Fla./Bloomingdale H.S.) and freshman swimmer Katie Carroll (Toledo, Ohio/Notre Dame Academy) both had strong outings to qualify for the evening finals on the first day of competition in the 2004 NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships in the Student Rec Center Natatorium. Perry-Eaton is the fourth seed in the championship final of one-meter diving, while Carroll broke her own school record in qualifying 11th in the 200-meter individual medley and earning a spot in its consolation final.
Perry-Eaton finished with a six-dive score of 290.40, just 1.05 points behind the third-highest qualifier, Allison Brennan of South Carolina (291.45). Alabama’s Lane Bassham, the Southeastern Conference champion and 11th-place finisher in last year’s NCAAs, posted the top score in prelims, 308.40, while Ashley Rubenstein of Auburn was second at 297.30.
Those four will be joined by Hawaii’s Qiong Jie Huang, Louisiana State’s Jessica Wantz, Stanford’s Ashlee Rosenthal, and Alida DiPlacido of Texas A&M in the evening final. All eight of them have assured themselves All-America honors. Perry-Eaton, who was ninth a year ago to be honorable mention All-America, is the first Notre Dame diver ever to finish in the top eight off the one-meter board. Only Heather Mattingly (’02) has been named a true All-American (top-eight finisher) in a diving event, taking eighth in the three-meter competition in 2002.
Carroll turned in a time of 2:13.43, which converts to a yards time of 1:59.55. She set the Notre Dame record in the 200 IM with a mark of 2:00.65 in the BIG EAST Championships last month. Carroll headed up a quartet of swimmers that was separated by just .04 seconds. Hawaii freshman Nicole Mackey and Auburn’s Leslie Lunsmann, last year’s 11th-place finisher in the NCAAs, were .01 behind the Irish rookie, while Georgia’s Katie Yevak finished in 2:13.47.
Another Bulldog, Mary Descenza, who was eighth a year ago, is the top seed in the consolation final, coming in ninth overall with a 2:13.08. Florida freshman Katie McCann was 10th in 2:13.23, while California’s Natalie Griffith and Georgia’s Tricia Harm rounded out the top 16. The ninth-16th qualifiers will be named honorable mention All-America in the event, but will swim at night to determine their places of finish.
Kirsty Coventry of Auburn, who tied for second in last year’s NCAA meet, was the top qualifier in the morning, setting NCAA and U.S. Open records with a time of 2:09.34.
Carroll is the first Notre Dame swimmer ever to advance to the evening finals in the 200 IM. The previous best finish for an Irish student-athlete in the race was 20th by Marie Labosky (Churchville, Pa./Germantown Academy) in 2001.
Perry-Eaton, who was victorious the one-meter competition last weekend to become the first-ever Irish diver to win a title in the NCAA Zone C Championships, had been defeated just once all season in the event prior to Thursday. She was second to Michigan’s Tealin Keleman at the Michigan Invitational, but has since defeated Keleman three times (dual meet on Jan. 31, NCAA zone meet, NCAAs). She topped 11 teams in dual meets and also took first place in the Texas A&M Invitational, Notre Dame Invitational, and BIG EAST Championships.
Perry-Eaton, who was 20th last year in three-meter diving, was named the BIG EAST Championships Most Outstanding Diver for the second consecutive year after sweeping the diving competitions. She held comfortable margins of victory in both events, defeating Miami’s Emily Spychala by 49.25 points in the three-meter competition and by 41.80 points off the one-meter board. Also the 2003 champion off the one-meter board, she is the only non-University of Miami diver since 1996 to win an event in the BIG EAST meet. She also has a pair of runner-up finishes (’02 in 1-meter and ’03 in 3-meter) and a fourth at the conference meet.
Perry-Eaton holds three of the four diving school records, while the last – 10 dives off the one-meter board – is not used in competition any longer, eliminating her chance of breaking Heather Mattingly’s record. Perry-Eaton broke her own school record in six dives off the three-meter board with a score of 335.85 in the Michigan Invitational. Perry-Eaton also holds the Irish records for 11 dives off the three-meter board (586.43) and for six dives in one-meter competition (331.58), as well as the Rolfs Aquatic Center records for six dives off both boards (322.64 in 1m, 333.82 in 3m).
Carroll, named the Most Outstanding Swimmer at last month’s conference meet, is one of just four student-athletes ever to win three BIG EAST titles as a freshman (200 IM, 100 fly, 100 free). Carroll secured her berth with an NCAA “A” cut of 2:00.65 in winning the 200 IM at the BIG EAST meet, setting school and conference records. Her seed time was 22nd heading into the NCAA prelims.
The finals are slated to begin at 7 p.m. (CST).