Junior diver exceeds expectations in third trip Nationals trip

Of the three divers that are a part of APU’s swim team, Diver Kianna Mourer earned the team points in both the one and three-meter events in the NCAA national championships this past weekend in Birmingham, Alabama. Prior to nationals, she competed against 46 women at a conference during the week of Feb. 7-11 and was among the top 22 to go to nationals.

Mourer has been diving since age 10. She didn’t know she wanted to participate in the sport until accompanying her neighbor at one of their practices. Though she had spent some time as a ballerina, she decided to hang up her ballet shoes to pursue a career in diving. She competed until her sophomore year of high school. It wasn’t until she started looking at different colleges that she considered diving again.

Her current diving coach and previous coach of her Bible club team, Cindy Adams, reached out to her and told her that she’d be great for Division II at APU. Since then, she has remained positive in her competitive efforts and says that she looks to continue being an encouraging teammate and person altogether.

During the conference, Mourer finished in 14th place. She competed against 10 other schools and proceeded in the competition with a qualifying score of 275.85 out of an average score of 265. Moving onto Nationals, she went up against 37 Division II schools from the east and west coasts. Though she thinks of herself as more of a one-meter diver, she didn’t do as well as she would have liked during Nationals. She placed 16th in the one-meter and was given the opportunity to proceed in the three-meter, where she finished at 11th place. Overall, Mourer scored 10 team points.

“Thanks to my coach I was able to kind of pull it together and give it my best on the three meter and stay positive,” Mourer said. “I would say that my coach is the reason I am able to compete the way that I do.”

Adams believes that Mourer did everything to the best of her ability and that she is a valuable asset to the team. As a coach, she said that their main goal was to get to Nationals this year since it is hard to qualify. Once they got in, Adams was looking for Mourer to use her experience to do the best she could in the events.

“Everything she strives for, she wants perfection,” Adams said.

Adams thinks that Mourer’s ability is fantastic and that she is now beginning to understand that every dive isn’t going to be hit perfectly. Adams saw that Mourer wanted to perform great in every dive and began working with her on her confidence.

“My top goal was to stay positive no matter what,” Mourer said.

When speaking of her coach and all that she has instilled in her, Mourer said that she believes in her ability because of her coach and that she competes because she wants to do well not just for herself, but for her coach as well.

Mourer believes that she is a “mental diver.” She acknowledged that she normally doesn’t do well under pressure, but was able to practice the mental techniques that were given to her by APU’s sports psychologist, Paul Saville, Ph.D. Saville encouraged her to think reasonably about her dives and to know that every diver is going to mess up. He also reminded her that every diver in attendance was there because of their talent.

“I am most proud of how far I’ve come mentally,” Mourer said. “I used to be extremely negative when competing.”

Mourer has competed since her freshman year of college. Though she didn’t get into the meet during her sophomore year, she has managed to win all of the Division II competitions. More impressively, this was Mourer’s third time making it to Nationals, earning her a trip to compete among the best every year as a college athlete.

Looking towards the future, Mourer wants to continue practicing her craft. She says that they don’t have much time to perfect their technical dives in practice, so she wishes to do that, as it was done at Nationals. During Nationals, Mourer said that she had to compete six hard dives and five easier technical dives. She is now on pursuit of practicing these to better prepare herself for other competitions and diving endeavors.

Mourer was accompanied by sophomore and teammate diver Rachel Johns during Nationals, along with five APU swimmers.

Both Mourer and Johns competed in the one-meter and three-meter competitions. Mourer placed 16th overall in the one-meter, and 11th overall in the three-meter, posted a better place compared to her previous two years at the NCAA Nationals. Mourer tailed a total of 10 points for the swim and dive team over the four-day event.

For swimming, sophomore Abigial Wiet, junior Rosalee Mira Santa Ana, sophomore Elodie Poo Cheong, junior Alyse Darnall and junior Tamara Miler all competed in the NCAA Nationals.

Santa Ana placed 24th in the 1000-yard freestyle and 28th in the 200-yard freestyle. She also earned a spot in the 500-yard freestyle final, placing 14th out of 48.

Wiet nearly earned a spot in the finals (the top 16 preliminary sports) in the 400-yard IM. She finished 17th, and was just a tenth of a second from edging out the 16th swimmer. She also competed in the 200-yard backstroke race at the national championships for the second straight season, posting a season best time of 2:02.88 to place 24th overall.

The 200-yard relay team consisted of Poo Cheong, Darnall, Miler and Santa Ana, and became the first relay team from APU to compete at the NCAA Nationals. Another relay team, this time for the 800-yard freestyle, which consisted of Miler, Poo Cheong, Wiet and Darnall, set a school record by going 7:37.64, breaking the previous school record by over a second. In another team effort, Poo Cheong, Santa Ana, Wiet and Darnall nearly broke another school record in the 400-yard freestyle – in that race, Poo Cheong posted an opening split of 51.66, breaking a six year old school record.

Miler earned the first points for the Cougars, placing 15th in the 1000-yard freestyle. On the final day of the four-day weekend, Miler broke the school record for the 1650-yard freestyle with a time of 16:52.06 to place seventh overall in the 32-person event. With that time, Miler earned All-American honors.

The seven student athletes on the swim and dive team showed that they belonged at the NCAA Nationals to close their season, and will all be looking to return next year.

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