Junior Wenting Zhang is now the first diver in Illinois State history to qualify for the NCAA Championship. This was a result of her second-place performance of 607.40 points in the 1-meter competition on Thursday in the NCAA Zone C diving qualifier at Ohio State.
“Wendy has had a fantastic year and this accomplishment only adds to her history-making season,” ISU diving coach Phil Hoffman said. “It’s a great honor for her to represent the program and Illinois State at the NCAA Championships next weekend. This is one of those once in a lifetime opportunities for her, especially because of how hard it is to advance in the diving competition.”
As a result of her finish Thursday, Zhang was able to compete in the 3-meter competition on Friday, where she finished fifth with a score of 628.75. She is also eligible now to compete in the 3-meter competition at the championships.
“I think a fifth-place finish in our zone on the 3-meter board is a great accomplishment for Wendy,” Hoffman said. “She represented herself and the University very well again against some of the best divers in the country. I am very excited for the opportunity for her to compete at the NCAA Championships next weekend in Minnesota, and I think she is poised to have a great meet.”
In both competitions, Zhang was in the place she finished in after the preliminary rounds, and was able to solidify her spot in the field with her performance in the final rounds.
“I’ve really enjoyed working with Wendy for the past three years and she helped me fulfill one of my coaching goals today of having a diver compete at the NCAA Championships,” Hoffman said. “It certainly happened a lot quicker than I thought it would, but Wendy is a special athlete and has represented herself and Illinois State in the highest manner.”
The NCAA Championship meet will be held March 20-22 in Minneapolis, Minn. Zhang will be joined by fellow Missouri Valley Conference diver Kaixuan Zhang of Southern Illinois following her first-place finish in Friday’s 3-meter competition and third-place finish in the 1-meter competition.