Lobo divers prepare for trip to NCAA Zones

March 7, 2012

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - In a sense the NCAA Zones are the true test of just how good a diver is. Zones are a qualifying meet with the best divers from around the country and the top eight get the opportunity to advance and try to claim gold where it matters most: NCAA Championships.

This year the Lobos travel to Colorado Spring, Colo. to participate in Zone E. Three Lobos will be participated in the event taking place tomorrow, and if their performance at the 2012 Mountain West Championships is any indication of things to come, UNM has a good chance of qualifying more than one diver.

The squad is lead by Ashlee Erickson, a two-time champion at the 2012 MW Championships in both the 1- and 3-meter springboard. Her final scores of 311.85 and 326.35, respectively, earned her gold as well as the title of MW Diver of the Year. Erickson was also named to the MW All-Conference, in both boards, team this past week

Erickson had a coming out of sorts in her last year diving for the Cherry and Silver. After spending a quiet three years behind teammate and 2010 MW platform diving champion Aubrey Bush the native of Plainwell, Mich., came out of the shadows and established herself as a force to be reckoned with in the conference. After winning the 1-meter in the first four meets of the season, Erickson also claimed three of the first four Diver of the Week Awards from the conference.

"Ashlee really came into her own this year," said diving coach Abel Sanchez. "She was a good diver to begin with, but this year what we really focused on was the competition angle. In the end her greatest obstacle was herself, she just had to really zone in and focus on the task at hand."

Erickson, along with teammates Megan Harper and Michole Timm, are three of the twelve MW divers that will be competing tomorrow. Erickson, Harper and Timm all posted Zone qualifying scores on both springboards with Timm also qualifying off the platform.

Harper, who since her freshman year has been a strong performer for UNM off the 3-meter board, had a slow start to the season due to a knee injury that kept her limited until Oct. 29 when New Mexico faced off against conference foe Wyoming. After a solid showing during that meet she slowly made her way into Sanchez's rotation. Eventually she took first place in both the 1- and 3-meter during UNM' contest against Colorado State on Jan 21. Her performance garnered her Diver of the Week honors on Jan. 25.

Harper finished the regular season strong with a third place finish off the 3-meter board during conference championships with a final score of 287.70. She was also fourth off the 1-meter with a final mark of 263.20.

"The girls really worked hard the entire season," said Sanchez. "They are all talented and I think we have a shot to send at least one, if not two, forward onto NCAA's." Zones will also serve as valuable experience for the lone freshman on Sanchez's team this past season, Michole Timm.

When talking about Michole earlier during the season, Sanchez acknowledge that while still green the diver had the potential to blossom into a strong competitor.

"Michole is still very young," he said. "Earlier during the season she was struggling and finishing towards the bottom of the pack in both events, but she is strong as an ox and she has the potential to be great."

Like her fellow divers, Timm was named Diver of the Week on Feb. 15 after winning the 3-meter board in New Mexico's last home meet against NMSU with a final score of 302.25. Timm placed fifth and sixth off the 1- and 3-meter boards at the 2012 MW Championships with finals of 261.70 and 260.60.

Timm is also one of only five divers from Mountain West affiliates to be participating in the platform.

"We have had another great year," Sanchez said. "We want to go ahead and finish strong in Colorado Springs."