Nevada's Zheng Earns Second NCAA Title With 3-Meter Dive Win
Courtesy of Nevada Athletics
ATLANTA – Sophomore Sharae Zheng cemented her status in Wolf Pack lore, winning a second national championship in as many days after sweeping the springboard events at the NCAA Championships. Zheng followed her 1-meter title on Thursday with a 3-meter title on Friday, scoring a career-high 404.70 points in the finals at the McAuley Aquatic Center.
The 5-foot-1 native of Chengdu, China, was in fourth place with two dives remaining in the 3-meter springboard finals. Zheng then vaulted to the top with two stellar closing dives, besting the field with 404.70 total points. Zheng edged runner-up Pei Lin (399.40) of Miami University and Kahlia Warner (387.20) of Florida.
Zheng becomes the University of Nevada’s third student-athlete to win multiple Division I national championships in the same season, joining swimmer Limin Liu (2000) and skier Katerina Hanusova (2002). In all-time program history, Zheng has hauled in Nevada’s eighth and ninth individual national championships in swimming and diving.
“In the finals, I told her not to listen to the judges or watch any scores, and she came through under pressure,” said diving coach Jian Li You. “The 3-meter is a tough field with some great opponents, so I’m very proud of her. She was very consistent both days.”
On Thursday, Zheng won Nevada’s first national title in 14 years after posting a score of 344.95 in the finals to win the 1-meter springboard championship. Zheng followed that with additional heroics today, winning the 3-meter title. Zheng posted a score of 315.35 to place third in the prelims and advance to finals.
Zheng was in fourth place in the 3-meter finals with two rounds left. She then posted a round score of 72.00 on her fifth dive (back two-and-a-half somersault pike) and a score of 73.95 on her final dive (reverse one-and-a-half somersault, two-and-a-half twist free) to vault past the field and stun the competition. Zheng’s finals score of 404.70 set a new career-high and also ranks second in program history.
Zheng (1-meter/3-meter) and Stanford’s Ella Eastin (200 IM/400 IM) are currently the lone multi-event individual national champions at NCAAs. Today was Zheng’s final dive of the year as she caps her stellar sophomore season with four regular season event titles, two Mountain West title, one NCAA Regional title and two national titles.
“Yesterday was such a huge highlight and emotional high – to bounce back from that, refocus and win again today is a remarkable accomplishment,” said head coach Neil Harper. “She’s very dedicated and talented and she has been a great addition to this team. We’re proud of her and of Jian Li. This year has been an incredible team effort and it’s been very rewarding to see these elite individual performances to cap a great season.”
The Wolf Pack is currently in 17th place – the highest of any non-power five team – with 49 points.
Senior Krysta Palmer also competed on the 3-meter springboard for the Wolf Pack. The two-time Mountain West Diver of the Year scored 256.20 points in the prelims and placed 45th in the event.
Senior Yawen Li was also in action for Nevada, competing in the 400-yard IM. The three-time all-conference honoree touched the wall in 4:16.19, placing 44th.
Nevada will cap its banner season tomorrow with the final day of competition at the NCAA Championships. Li will swim in the 200-yard breaststroke, while Palmer will compete in the platform dive. Prelims will begin at 7 a.m., dive trails will start at 9:15 a.m. and the finals session will start at 3 p.m.