On Friday, two Penn State divers will hit the water in the NCAA Zone A diving qualifiers at Virginia Tech.
T.J. Schenkel and Megan Springsteen will face the toughest competition of the season as they try to qualify for the NCAA finals, but as diving coach Craig Brown put it, they will try and gain experience and work on consistency as well.
According to Brown, there are five slots for around 40 divers in both the men's and women's zone. A diver has to finish first or second in either the one- or three-meter competition, or first in the tower competition, to qualify.
"It's a daunting task for even the really top-notch kids," Brown said. "One mistake and they're not going to qualify."
Brown said the two Nittany Lions have been focusing on consistency in practice leading up to this weekend.
Springsteen said that she's been working on her consistency for the last two weeks, as it is something she needs to improve on.
"It's just about putting everything together, it's getting a good start, a good finish, pointing your toes, all the little details that add up to a really good score," Springsteen said.
Schenkel added that consistency is key, and as long as he doesn't make a mistake, he'll be fine because he has been working on his techniques and practicing newer dives from last year.
Brown said he hopes his team will be competitive, but as Schenkel is only a sophomore and Springsteen is a junior, he hopes they will be able learn for next year as well.
"It's my first year qualifying for zones, so it's really kind of a good base for next year to know what the competition is about, what's going on and to just kind of gain some understanding," Springsteen said.
Schenkel echoed the sentiments of his fellow diver, saying he just wants to dive well, not make any mistakes and execute everything he's been working on.
"This is the first time for either one of them to be there and there's a learning curve with everything, especially a pressure packed meet like that," Brown said.
The pressure is a factor both divers are not new to, as they are fresh off the Big Ten diving championships last month. Schenkel finished 29th in both the one- and three-meter competitions at the championships.
"It'll be more competitive, but it's something I'll feed off of to do better," Schenkel said.
"I thrive in competition and I like competition a lot, so I think that just having that atmosphere and having everyone at such an elite level just brings you up even more," Springsteen said.
Brown said he's looking to win over some of the coaches, who will be serving as judges for the events.
"We're trying to just put up a really good image and work ethic there that we can carry over to next year," Brown said.