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Zhang finishes sixth at NCAA Championships

 

Archive Photo: Zhang became the first Redbird diver to earn an All-American honorable mention.

Archive Photo: Zhang became the first Redbird diver to earn an All-American honorable mention.

Wenting Zhang only got better as the NCAA Championships went on. She placed 15th in the 1-meter diving competition Thursday at the University of Minnesota’s Aquatic Center.

Her performance earned her an All-American honorable mention, and she became the first Redbird to earn the honor.

“To be a top-15 and named an All-American in your first NCAA Championship meet is an incredibly satisfying way to end the 1-meter season for Wendy,” head coach Phil Hoffman said. “I am very proud of her performance today and think she represented herself and Illinois State very well.”

Zhang advanced out of the preliminary rounds in 14th place. She had a score of 283.40, only good enough to advance to the consolation round. She would go on to place seventh, scoring 290.60 points, which put her at 15th for the total competition.

“This was one of the toughest contests in a few years and all of the coaches were impressed with the level of diving seen today in the prelims and the consolation final,” Hoffman said. “To know that our diver was in the mix and had a shot against the best in the country is an honor that we certainly won’t take lightly. With the 3-meter competition coming tomorrow, we know that anything is possible.”

Anything certainly was possible as Zhang would go on to place sixth in the 3-meter competition Friday. She placed sixth in the preliminary rounds with a score of 352.30, which was good enough to qualify for the final rounds.

“It was an absolutely amazing event the last two days and anytime you get to compete against the best in the country, it’s an honor,” Hoffman said. “She stood up there with the best divers in the country today, competed strong and showed that she belonged in the competition.”

She would go on to place sixth again, this time with a score of 363.90, being named an All-American outright.

“What a way to end the season, with an All-America honor and the sixth best dive in the country,” Hoffman said. “It was an outstanding season for Wendy and one for the record books. I couldn’t be more proud of her and the way she represented herself and Illinois State this week on a national stage.”

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