After winning the first Mountain West championship in program history, the University of Nevada swimming and diving team will set its sights at additional goals this week, competing at the 2016 NCAA Championships.
Head coach Neil Harper and the Wolf Pack have sent eight student-athletes to compete at the meet through to Saturday at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta, Ga.
Senior Yawen Li and divers Krysta Palmer, Sharae Zheng and Zoe Lei will compete individually, while Nevada’s school-record 800-yard freestyle relay team of Teresa Baerens, Sita Kusserow, Caitlyn Richardson and Rebecca Murray will also be in action.
Preliminaries will begin each day at 7 a.m. Pacific Time (PT), followed by diving trials at 9:15 a.m. before finals each day begin at approximately 3 p.m.
“We’re excited to have eight great athletes representing us with an opportunity to compete at the highest level and put our name out there,” Harper said. “It’s a great accomplishment for our team to have five swimmers and three divers competing and they’ve all worked hard for this opportunity.”
The Wolf Pack made its NCAA Championship debut on Wednesday afternoon, competing in the 800 free relay. Nevada made history at the Mountain West Championships in the 800 free relay, breaking a school record with an NCAA ‘A’ cut time of 7:05.98.
Li will cap her stellar collegiate career this week, competing in three events. The All-American and native of Wuhan, China, competed in the 200 individual medley (IM) on Thursday and will compete in the 400 IM today and the 200 breaststroke on Saturday. Li led the Pack to the MW title earlier by winning both the 400 IM and 200 breaststroke. Last season, Li advanced to the 400 IM ‘B’ finals and placed ninth overall with a program record time of 4:05.56 to earn All-American accolades.
Head diving coach Jian Li You and the Wolf Pack divers will also be represented all three days. Senior Krysta Palmer, sophomore Sharae Zheng and freshman Zoe Lei competed on the 1-meter springboard Thursday. Palmer and Zheng, who helped Nevada sweep all three diving titles at both the Mountain West Championships and NCAA Zone E Regional, will also compete on the 3-meter springboard today.
Palmer, a two-time Mountain West Diver of the Year, will cap her collegiate career on Saturday, competing on the platform dive. Last season, Palmer placed 10th on the 3-meter springboard and 24th on the platform at the 2015 NCAA Championships, earning All-America honors.
“Winning the Mountain West and sending eight student-athletes to NCAAs is a great accomplishment for our program, so this is the icing on the cake,” said Harper. “This group has been amazing all year.”
The Wolf Pack is looking to put the finishing touches on one of the most storied seasons in program history. Nevada posted an undefeated 10-0 regular season record after winning the five-team Pacific Invitational before beating UC Davis, Fresno State, Boise State, San Jose State, UNLV and Wyoming in dual meets.
Nevada then won the first Mountain West championship in program history and the second in university history. The Wolf Pack overcame a 50 point deficit on the final day of the meet to storm past Boise State, winning the meet in comeback fashion with 664 total points.
Nevada will now look to continue its successful postseason with the NCAA Championships this week in Atlanta. Last season, three student-athletes represented Nevada at the 2015 NCAA Championships in Greensboro, N.C., as the Wolf Pack placed 33rd in the nation with 16 total points. Nevada boasted the top national finish out of any Mountain West team and fifth-best finish out of any non-power five team last season.
The 2016 NCAA Championships will be streamed live by ESPN3.com and NCAA.com. ESPN3.com will stream finals sessions on Friday and Saturday live. The morning sessions today and Saturday will be streamed live on NCAA.com. Additionally, ESPNU will air a two-hour broadcast via tape delay at 4 p.m. PT, March 29 29.
Live results from the championship will be made available on NCAA.com.