March 14, 2008
Junior All-American Marisa Samaniego's competition at the NCAA Zone E Championships in Oklahoma City got off to a bad start on Thursday when she slipped on the one-meter board and was forced to pull out of the meet, but she rebounded in a huge way on Friday with a big win on three-meter to guarantee a spot for her at next week's NCAA Championships.
Stanford's Meg Hostage finished second with a score of 602.45, while Hawaii's Emma Friesen was third with a score of 599.2.
Samaniego, who was second on 1M last year at the Zone meet, slipped off the board on her second dive on Thursday causing her to roll her ankle and bruise her shoulder. Forced to withdraw because of the injury, advancing to the national meet did not look like a possibility.
Although bruised and sore, Samaniego opted to compete on three-meter on Friday and came back in a big way with a near school record-breaking performance. She blew away the competition, winning by almost 30 points as she won with a lifetime-best score of 632.15. The win automatically qualified her for the NCAA Championships, held March 20-22 in Columbus, OH.
"The past few weeks have been brutal for our group," said dive coach Tom Stebbins. "We lost Laura Winn at Pac-10's and that really shook the group up, and then to see Marisa fall yesterday was another tough thing to handle. Marisa was pretty sore and shaken up this morning and wasn't sure she wanted to go. After a very early workout today, she decided to compete and performed beautifully. This was a huge day for her and I'm so proud right now."
Samaniego was second after the prelim round with a score of 304.00 and then added a score of 328.15 in the finals to win the competition. Junior Brittany Hill was 23rd with a score of 231.15, while freshman Morgan Erpenbeck placed 40th (191.5).
On Thursday, junior Tess Schofield was the highest finisher for UCLA with her 22nd-place showing (219.35). Erpenbeck was 26th (218.00) and Hill finished 37th (201.45).
Schofield, Hill and Erpenbeck will compete Saturday on tower with the top-2 finishers in that event earning a ticket to Nationals. Last season, Schofield won the tower title and went on to earn All-American honors at Nationals.
Results for the meet can be found at DiveMeets.com.