Wilke to NCAA Championship

Billy Piotrowski, Writer

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Sophomore diver Matt Wilke is getting ready to compete in his first NCAA Championship meet. Wilke qualified at the NCAA Region I Diving Championship last Saturday with fifth place scores of 440.55 and 457.80 in the one-and three-meter dives.

Wilke earned a spot at regionals last season but missed qualifying for nationals. Wilke said the pruessure before regionals becomes with inescapable with a meet of that level.

“In the weeks leading up to regionals, I was nervous,” Wilke said. “I was starting to feel the pressure because I knew that this was the meet that really mattered in my season. This was the meet that would determine whether or not I reach my goal this season: reaching nationals.”

Head diving coach Amy McQuillan, gave further insight by explaining how competitive of a sport diving is. McQuillan also complimented Wilke’s consistency and focus under that pressure at regionals.

“Oftentimes at meets of this level, divers ‘miss’ a dive. Matt has a way of keeping things consistent throughout the competition,” McQuillan said. “It’s important to stay focused on the end goal, finishing strong and not letting one bad dive impact the rest of one’s performance.”

At regionals, Wilke beat out his sixth-place competition on the one-and three-meter boards by differences of .05 and .10. Wilke said that he was overthinking his dives and would pay the most attention to that in the upcoming weeks before nationals.

“Leading up to NCAA, I will be mainly focusing on smoothing out my board work and not forcing each dive off the board,” Wilke said. “I find that when I don’t try as hard on a dive, it usually runs more smoothly.”
Wilke said relaxing when he’s about to dive is essential to the success of his dives.

“Trying to not try as hard is very difficult, especially when it is time to do a very hard dive,” Wilke said. “It seems counterintuitive to try less, but when I can let myself feel smoother, the dives come more naturally.”
McQuillan said it can be easy for an athlete to be overwhelmed on a national stage, but she expects the same attitude Wilke had at regionals.

“We have two weeks to prepare for the NCAA Championship meet and will use that time to continue practicing all of the dives Matt will perform at that meet,” McQuillan said. “It’s easy for an athlete to become overwhelmed with preparing for, and competing at, a competition of this level. The athlete needs to stay tuned into their goal but also recognize what they’ve done to reach this point.”

McQuillan said Wilke has made all of his coaches proud and is already part of an elite level of divers no matter what happens at the championship meet.

“Only 24 Division III divers have the opportunity to compete at this NCAA Championship, and sophomore Matt Wilke is one of them,” McQuillan said. “That’s pretty cool. We’re all very proud of what he’s accomplished.”
Wilke will compete in the NCAA Division III Championship from March 20 to March 23. The event will take place at the Greensboro Aquatic Center in Greensboro, North Carolina.