Cooper Wins Platform on Day 2 of Zone Meet
GREENSBORO, N.C. – University of Miami veteran and Hurricanes co-captain Zach Cooper added his name to the list of qualifiers for the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships Monday afternoon.
Cooper won the men’s platform event at the Zone B qualifying meet at the Greensboro Aquatic Center, becoming the fifth Hurricane to clinch a berth at the upcoming NCAA Championships, to be held at the same pool.
A two-time NCAA All-American, Cooper joined second-year divers Max Flory and Brodie Scapens on the men’s side, as well as second-year diver Mia Vallée and freshman Emma Gullstrand on the women’s side, as qualifiers.
“Coop took care of business. He was on a business trip here. He delivered 20 dives and didn’t miss one of them,” head diving coach Randy Ableman said. “It’s the way he has been diving all semester. Coming down the stretch here, he has been so consistent, scoring right at his lifetime best.”
Cooper won the event in commanding fashion, scoring 871.80 for a first-place finish – more than 60 points ahead of second-place finisher Bryden Hattie of Tennessee.
“He has worked for that, and it’s very gratifying for a coach, and I’m sure it’s more gratifying for him, that all the work is paying off,” Ableman said.
Cooper was joined by Flory (763.65), who took third, and Scapens (706.65), who took fifth. Both just needed to finish inside the top 12 to earn spots on the platform at NCAAs after excelling on the 3-meter springboard to initially punch their tickets Sunday afternoon.
“Brodie is a little nicked up, nursing a sore shoulder. Out of the 20 dives, he did four of them off the 5-meter board,” Ableman said. “We intend to do all of them off the 10 at NCAAs, but we didn’t want to mess him up. The goal was to advance to the NCAA Championships in that event.
“Flory we had go full on. He’s rounding into shape and his best is yet to come. This is a good test for all these guys. They’re long days on the pool, three days in a row – but that’s what it’s like at the NCAA Championships.”
Though Cooper focuses on the platform, Ableman said the NCAA Zone B meet is a good tune-up for the long days ahead at the NCAA Championships for both Flory and Scapens.
“When you’re a three-event divers, you dive in the long prelims in the morning and you come back in the finals and get up the next morning and do it all again,” Ableman said. “I’ve been explaining that to them – they have to be ready for this. I gave them a little bit of history here at The U, that we’ve had guys who made the finals in all three and brought their best on Day 3 when everyone else is dragging. I think that’ll help, give a little perspective and know they have to push through being tired on all that.”
Not to be outdone, Gullstand and Vallée secured their spots on the 3-meter with impressive showings on Monday.
Gullstrand won the 3-meter (728.80) after taking second in the 1-meter on Sunday, while Vallée followed up Sunday’s strong debut with a third-place showing Monday (705.90).
“They were rock solid, both of them, and getting better as the day went on. They’re in a good place. It makes me feel really good about preparation for the NCAAs coming up,” Ableman said. “They work hard. This moment is not too big for them. They’re big-time divers and they’ve been working their tails off. They know that they more than belong.”
The NCAA Zone B qualifying meet concludes Tuesday with the men’s 1-meter and women’s platform.