Hawkeye divers find success under Waikel


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It didn’t take long for the Iowa diving teams to buy into first-year coach Todd Waikel’s practices and beliefs.

Six months after his arrival in Iowa City, Waikel has four of his divers posting the necessary scores to qualify for the NCAA Zone D Diving Meet  — a sort of preliminary meet that preludes to the NCAA meet — that will take place in Houston on March 11-13.

Juniors Abby Grilli and Lauren Kelba join redshirt sophomore Joelle Christy as members of the women’s team who have posted qualifying scores. The lone men’s diver, Addison Boschult, has also posted a qualifying score this season.

Grilli said it is the coach’s daily message in practice that has helped them get to where they are today and without it, the season may have been more of a struggle.

“He always says that every day is a challenge and to have the heart of a champion,” Grilli said in a release. “That helps, because there are days when we’re down on ourselves or getting frustrated, but we need to remember that for people who are champions, every day is a challenge, and we need to work through that.”

That drive and assertion from Waikel is what helped all four divers post their best college scores on Jan. 19. Leading up to being named Co-Big Ten Diver of the Week, Christy won the 1-meter and 3-meter springboards at Illinois.

The Springfield, Ill., native posted scores of 313.35 and 322.20. Kelba and Grilli followed, posting scores of 295.95 and 289.35 — both in the 1-meter, and both right behind their teammate. All three scores rank among the top 10 in Iowa history.

Boschult also dove successfully that same weekend in a double-dual meet against Indiana and Ohio State. He posted college-best scores of 325.13 and 341.78 in the 1-meter and 3-meter springboards.
He noted the effect Waikel has had on him this season.

“I kept saying, ‘I don’t really want to dive tower because it’s going to be scary,’ ” Boschult said in a release. “Todd has really helped me with the transition. He helped me get past the nerves and with my overall technique.”

With all of the success that has come this season, it’s important to focus on the most exciting portion of the season. With the women’s Big Ten meet beginning Feb. 20 in Minneapolis, it is time to really dial in on the task at hand.

“As a team, he pushes us to raise our standard at practice,” Christy said in a release. “He tells us that we need to train like Big Tens are tomorrow. He encourages us to train at a high standard and not just go through the motions of every day practice.”

Waikel’s message is now becoming stronger as the divers no longer have to imagine as if Big Tens are tomorrow. The women divers have one more week before they get the opportunity to prove that Waikel’s hard-nosed practices have really paid off.

“I tell them a lot that every meet is an opportunity to perform, and shine, and show your stuff,” Waikel said. “But really, we have had our eyes set on the Big Tens and NCAAs.”

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