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This week, the divers will be vying in a friendly rubber match.
As seniors, this is their last chance to win a second diver of the year award and gain some bragging rights, not that they would hold that over the head of the other. They're Reebok Classic Shoes Grey
Two years ago, Huang won WAC diver of the year after winning the 1 meter dive, finishing second in the 3 meter and placing third in platform. Last year, Hansen, diving with a broken left wrist, was the MWC diver of the year after winning platform and 1 meter and placing second in the 3 meter (behind Huang).
competition will be: "For me, it's mainly Grace," she said.
Hansen helped Huang learn English and Huang shared dessert treats from Taiwan. Their personalities balanced each another out. Hansen is the more naturally competitive athlete, a trait she's helped pass on to Huang, who's more laid back, an eternal optimist, a trait Hansen has tried to incorporate.
"I don't think I'd be at this level if I didn't have Grace as my teammate," Hansen said. "She was a strong diver four years ago when I first got here, so I looked up to her and wanted to be like her."
When the conference championship kicks off Wednesday, there's no question which MWC school has the best divers (Nevada). The biggest question is whether the best diver this week will be Hansen or Huang.
Wyoming's Amanda Fay and Fresno State's Hannah Prigge are tough competitors, too, but Hansen knows who her stiffest Saucony Grid 8000 Aquamarine
Stephanie Hansen Grace Huang don
Their relationship goes beyond a friendly rivalry in the pool. The two met in August 2010, when both were freshmen at Nevada. Hansen hailed from Vancouver, British Columbia, and Huang from Kaohsiung City, Taiwan. A bond quickly formed as both searched for friends in a new country.
"They both have worked really hard over the years and are very competitive," You said. "They both want to win. But they are both big supporters of each other. They want to see the other dive really well."Wolf Pack divers and Grace Huang, both seniors, have been close friends and also each other's top competition during their four years at Nevada. This week, they'll compete in the Mountain West Championships. They've combined for 12 top three finishes in their previous three conference championships. Here's a look at how each diver has fared in those championship meets.2013: Mountain West diver of the year; won 1 meter and platform; second in 3 meter
the past four years on Nevada's campus, aren't just close friends but also each other's stiffest competition, the Mountain West's two best divers.
Both have benefitted from the partnership. Hansen wouldn't be as good as she is without Huang and vice versa. Both have pushed each other to become better divers than they thought they could be.
As Hansen and Huang near the end of their senior seasons, they do so with similar rsums.
Both have been named conference diver of the year once (Hansen last season; Huang two seasons ago). Both have won two individual titles in the conference championships. And while Huang has a small lead in top three finishes in the conference championships (seven to five), You says they're evenly matched.
"They respect each other a lot," said Jian Li You, the Wolf Pack's 18th year diving coach. "They're both very nice girls. They're not mean girls. Sometimes when you have two at the same level, they're mean to each other and are never friends. Not these two, so it's been a lot easier for me to coach them."
"Grace has been such a positive influence on me," Hansen said. "She's one of the most positive people I've been around. She never complains. That's something I really love about her. Having such a long season, sometimes you get a little down on yourself. Having Grace there to be positive has been great."
So, when the MWC swimming and diving championships starts Saucony Trainers Mens Wednesday at San Antonio, they had to be torn, right? They want to see their friend do well but not that well. The better their friend does, the worse their chances of winning the conference diver of the year award becomes. Pretty simple story line.
But Hansen and Huang, the Wolf Pack's yin yang twins, don't subscribe to that story line. They want to see each other dive well. Really well. Even if that means they don't win the MWC's top diving honor.
Nevada divers Grace Huang, left, and pose for a photograph at the Lombardi Rec Center pool last week. The two are favorites in upcoming MWC Championships. (Andy Barron/RGJ)
friends first and foremost.
Wolf Pack divers and Grace Huang, who have spent London Saucony
Hansen and Huang are fighting for the same thing (the MWC diver of the year award), but they don't bicker with each other. They don't secretly hope the other struggles in the biggest meet of the year. They genuinely want each other to succeed. Truth is, they've make each other better divers.
"We've pushed each other to the top," Huang said.
The story line seemed pretty simple.
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