Head University of Minnesota diving coach Wenbo Chen has announced that Sara Axness (Eau Claire, Wis.), Maggie Keefer (Stillwater, Minn.), and Sarah McCrady (Eagan, Minn.) have signed National Letters of Intent and will join the Golden Gopher program next fall.
Axness is a four-year letterwinner with Eau Claire Memorial High School under coaches Al Hudacek and Derick Black. At the Wisconsin State Championships, Axness finished third this past November and second overall in 2008. An all-state and all-conference selection last year, Axness received the Old Abe award as a junior. As a senior, Axness helped Eau Claire to an eighth-place finish. She enters her Minnesota career with top scores of 439.10 (11 dives) and 256.40 (6 dives). A standout gymnast as well, Axness was the team’s most valuable player and helped the team to the school’s top finish in 2008-09. Sara is the daughter of Gary Axness and Jenny Axness.
“I’ve always looked at Minnesota for school,” Axness said. “I love the campus, how great the academics are, and the competitive atmosphere of the swim and dive program.”
“Sara Axness has not been diving very long, but is a very talented diver,” Chen said. “I was very impressed when I watched her dives and her tape. She’s a fast learner and will perform well on the three meter and platform because of her talent. She will bring a lot of energy to the team.”
Maggie Keefer is a member of the Stillwater High School team under coaches Brian Luke and Carrie Madline. Keefer helped the Ponies earn its second-straight state championship title in November. Scoring a perfect 10 at the state meet, Keefer dove to an individual state championship, her second honor in two years, with a score of 451.55. A multiple All-American, Keefer is a five-team all-state and all-conference selection. As a junior, Keefer scored 493.55 to earn her first individual state title after finishing as a runner-up her sophomore year. Also diving with the Twin City Divers and the Minnesota Diving Academy, Keefer competed at the Junior Nationals and holds top scores of 318.45 (6 dives) and 526.85 (11 dives). Keefer is the daughter of Charlie and Lisa Keefer.
“I chose Minnesota because of the people on the team, the location of the school, and the great school it offers,” Keefer said.
“Maggie Keefer is elite diver in the state of Minnesota and in the nation,” Chen said. “She’s competed in three events for USA Diving meets over the past years and is a two-year state champion in 2008 and 2009. She works very hard and is a great competitor. She will immediately help the team at the Big 10 and NCAA level. I am so glad she chose Minnesota and feel so lucky to have her join the team.”
Sarah McCrady competed at the Minnesota State High School Championships this past November with the Eagan High School. As a member of the Wildcats, she placed third at state with a score of 398.80. As a junior, McCrady placed seventh overall with a score of 328.35 to earn her first of two all-state honors. An all-conference selection her sophomore, junior and senior seasons, McCrady was a four-year letterwinner for Eagan under coach Julie Linscheid. Also diving with Minnesota Diving Academy, McCrady holds a top score of 447 (11 dives) and 259 (6 dives). Sarah is the daughter of Rich and Laura McCrady.
“I chose the University of Minnesota because I grew up around the campus and the facility,” McCrady said. “I also wanted to stay close to home.”
“Sarah McCrady is a great diver for three events with platform being her best,” Chen said. “She is going to help our platform event move up to another level. She is sweet and friendly and is going to fit very well with the team.”