UK divers to compete for NCAA championships

By Kyle Arensdorf | @KyKernelSports

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The UK men’s swimming and diving team is sending two of its divers to the NCAA tournament this weekend at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis, Ind.

Junior Greg Ferrucci is headed to his third-straight NCAA tournament, while junior John Fox will be making his first appearance.

“I’m really excited. I’ve been training for (the tournament) my entire life and it’s nice to finally get here,” Fox said. “Greg’s given me a little insight into what to expect so I think I’m ready for it.”

Fox earned his spot in the 35-diver field on Friday by improving on his 3-meter score in the preliminaries of the Zone C Championships with a 391.90 in the final, en route to a fourth-place finish with an overall score of 761.95.

Fox’s placing earned him one of the five extra spots that were doled out by the NCAA to the Zone C Conference as a result of their performance at last year’s NCAA tournament.

“John has been trending lately,” head coach Ted Hautau said. “He’s a very steady competitor and it’s well deserved for him to make it this year.”

Ferrucci garnered a spot in the NCAA tournament by winning the 1-meter springboard on Thursday and earned a second event title with a first-place finish on the 3-meter springboard a day later.

The Huntersville, N.C., native impressed as he set a program record in the 3-meter final with a 453.2, breaking the previous record (434.85) that he set the day before in the preliminaries.

Hautau was happy with his divers’ performances at the Zone C Championships and hopeful about their chances at the NCAA tournament.

“It’s always harder to make it to the NCAA’s than it is to score well in the NCAA’s because of the way the qualifying system works for diving,” Hautau said. “If they can qualify at that tournament, which is the hardest meet of the year, then they can feel very confident that they’re going to score well in the NCAA’s.”

Ferrucci suffered a quad injury in the first event of the 2011 NCAA tournament (the 1-meter springboard), which forced him to withdraw from the final two events.

The 2012 NCAA tournament saw Ferrucci compete well throughout, delivering with a 10th-place finish in the 3-meter springboard and an 11th-place finish in the 1-meter springboard.

With the current record-breaking hot streak he’s riding and his great showing at the 2012 NCAAs, it’s fair to expect him to do very well in the upcoming tournament.

When asked if he expected to win any events this year, Ferrucci tried to manage expectations.

“Not to win,” Ferrucci said. “To final in all three events and get into the top eight would probably be my most reasonable expectation.” will stream finals sessions Friday and Saturday of the NCAA tournament. Additionally, ESPNU will air a 90-minute show at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 10.