Underclassmen DeMuro, Gilrich Give South Siders Hope for the Future

Second-year Natalie Demuro and first-year Anna Gilrich represented Chicago this past weekend at the NCAA DIII Regional Diving Championships.

By Britta Nordstrom

A season spanning four months and two quarters came to a close Saturday at the NCAA DIII Regional Diving Championships. While most divers went home after the UAA Championships on February 17 and 19, two Chicago competitors got the chance to move on to the national level after solid performances at UAAs in Rochester.

Second-year Natalie DeMuro finished seventh in the one-meter dive, while first-year Anna Girlich won the one-meter and placed fourth in the three-meter dive. Girlich also previously earned the accolade of UAA Women’s Diver of the Year. Both women were extremely excited to represent the Maroons at regionals.

“There were 28 girls from 20 teams, so it was really awesome to have two divers represent Chicago,” DeMuro said on the opportunity. “We haven’t had any girls qualify the past couple of years, which made it that much more exciting for the team.”

Friday saw the Maroons head to Denison in Granville, OH for the three-meter dive. This board height seemed to be a favorite of both South Siders, as they both finished in the top 11. DeMuro slid into 10th place while Girlich was right behind her at 11th, falling by only 3.4 points.

On the second day, the duo would take on 28 competitors, and finished quite well despite being underclassmen. DeMuro finished 10th while Girlich took 13th in the one-meter dive. This is especially notable because, of the top 10 finishers, only four were underclassmen. Girlich was one of only two first-years to crack the top 15.

Even though the two will not head on to the NCAA DIII Championships, as only seven of the women were selected, the regional competition provided a learning experience and put a solid cap on a stellar season for both divers.

DeMuro reflected on the meet and its implications, saying, “Our region always has a strong performance at nationals so we knew there was going to be a lot of talent at the meet. We saw a lot of good divers, but we also saw that we can hang with the top girls.”

As early as November, there were signs of a promising season for both divers. Girlich placed first in both dives against Wash U, and later that month she also took first in the three-meter dive at the Phoenix Fall Classic. She also turned out a B-cut performance for both dives in that meet, and DeMuro qualified for the B-cut in the one-meter dive.

Both DeMuro and Gilrich came into their own in the month of January. At the tri-meet against Lewis and Olivet Nazarene, DeMuro took first in the one-meter while Girlich won the three-meter. The ladies repeated this performance against DePauw and Calvin later that month. Finally, they switched against Lake Forest and Olivet Nazarene: DeMuro placed first in the three-meter dive while Girlich snatched the one-meter.

Girlich also added a runner-up finish in the three-meter dive and a third-place finish in the one-meter dive at the UIC Diving Invite in February. This meet brought both DI and DIII athletes together for competition.

“One goal we both have for next year is to learn some of the harder dives that the nationals qualifiers completed,” said DeMuro.

Based on their results this season and the fact that both have a minimum of two more years, the future looks bright for the women’s diving program at Chicago.