Missouri State senior diver Garrett Nevels finishes eighth on the 1-meter board at the NCAA Zone D Diving Championships Monday to become the first Bears diver in 27 years to qualify for the NCAA Championships
Jim Huelskamp is entering his 13th season as Missouri State's head diving coach in 2016-17. He has been named Missouri Valley Conference Diving Coach of the Year three times throughout his career, including his third year on the job, 2008 and again in 2010.
Huelskamp boasts an impressive collegiate diving resume, helping the Bears to 15 conference titles (11 women's, 4 men's). In addition, he has coached three individual MVC champions, one individual MAC champion and several NCAA Zone qualifiers during his time at Missouri State.
One of his most memorable coaching achievements came on March 9, 2015, when senior Garrett Nevels finished eighth on the 1-meter board at the NCAA Zone D Diving Championships, making him the first Missouri State diver to qualify for the NCAA Championships in 25 years. Nevels eventually qualified for the NCAA meet in 3-meter diving the following day, allowing Huelskamp to coach at the NCAA Championship level for the first time in his career.
His and Nevels' appearance was featured in the Springfield News-Leader, as Huelskamp's diver was one of a school-record three Missouri State student-athletes to qualify for the NCAA meet.
The Omaha, Neb., native has developed some of the top divers in MSU history, as all four of the men's and women's 1- and 3-meter school records (6 dives) have been broken on his watch.
On the men's side, Huelskamp qualified a diver for the NCAA Zone `D' Championships in seven seasons. Former school record holder Eric Ducourneau competed at Zones all four years of his career, while diving standout Garrett Nevels traveled to Iowa City, Iowa, Houston and Minneapolis, Minnesota, for four zone appearances.
In 2013-14, Nevels was recognized as the MAC Outstanding Diver of the Year following a first-place finish in the 1-meter and third-place finish in the 3-meter. He eventually finished 23rd in the 1-meter Zone D Diving Championships, five places out of the finals for the event.
In 2012-13, Nevels earned MAC Athlete of the Week honors after sweeping both springboard events in Fayetteville, Ark. against 20th-ranked Penn State and setting a new 1-meter school record with 357.60 points. At the 2013 MAC Championships, the sophomore was a top-8 finisher on 1- and 3-meter and topped Ducourneau's other standing MSU record with 378.60 points in prelims. Nevels improved on his freshman year postseason performance with a pair of top-15 finishes at the 2013 NCAA Zone `D' Diving Championships in Houston, Texas.
The 2013-13 season also marked one of the first times that the Bears placed multiple divers into the A-Final at the MAC Championships.
For the Missouri State women, upperclassman Lindsey Conway had a successful run at the 2013 MVC Championships, making her way onto the Bears' all-time top-five performers list on 1-meter with a score of 264.10.
Most recently, Huelskamp helped lead MSU achieve first team all-conference selections in 1-meter diving at the 2016 MVC Championship. Junior Nina Privitera earned her first collegiate medal by taking bronze on the 1-meter board, while junior Alexis Skiniotes also made a podium appearance by taking sixth in the finals.
During the 2011-12 campaign, Huelskamp exceeded expectations with an extremely young group of divers that included three freshmen, two sophomores and just one senior. On the women's side, the year was highlighted by two all-MVC honorable mention performances by sophomores Lindsey Conway and Paige Koebbe.
In 2010, the Bears had breakout performances at their respective conference meets. Heather Fulton brought home an individual title on 1-meter at the MVC meet, while Chelsea Ray and Fulton teamed up for a 2-3 finish. Ducourneau managed to place fourth in MSU's inaugural season in the Mid-American Conference (MAC).
Ray and Ducourneau led the Bears in 2008 and 2009, with back-to-back years on the medal stand. Ducourneau was a mainstay at the top of the Sun Belt Conference collecting a pair of runner-up finishes and a bronze on 3-meter in 2008. Huelskamp earned his second career MVC Diving Coach of the Year honor after guiding Ray to the top spot on 3-meter and fifth place on 1-meter.
His first MVC coaching award came during the 2005-06 season by leading varsity record holder Stacey Arkovich to a conference title in the 3-meter diving competition.
Prior to joining the Missouri State swimming & diving staff in 2003-04, Huelskamp competed and coached for more than two decades at a variety of schools in Nebraska. He mentored a number of top divers from the Omaha, Neb. metro area, including 13 metro champions, five state champions and five high school All-Americans.
Huelskamp received his Bachelor of Arts in Industrial Education from the University of Nebraska in 1988. Competitively, he dove for the Cornhuskers and was a member of the four-time Big 8 Championship Diving Team. He was a four-year letterwinner (1983-88) and qualified for the NCAA Pre-Qualifying Competitions on both the 1- and 3-meter board. He also qualified to compete at the senior nationals on the 10-meter platform.