Quaker Valley divers are few but mighty

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Monday, February 5, 2018 | 11:00 PM


The Quaker Valley boys swimming team has only one diver, but he might be enough to give the Quakers the edge at the WPIAL Class AA championships later this month.

Freshman Simon Iwanonkiw (224.18) ranked fifth recently in WPIAL Class AA in 1-meter for six dives.

He has qualified for WPIALs as well as the Midwestern Athletic Conference championship meet Friday.

Iwanonkiw attends Sewickley Academy but competes for the Quakers as part of a cooperative.

“He's got some incredible talent,” Quakers diving coach Haley Ashner said. “Simon was a competitive gymnast growing up, and that has been a huge asset to developing his skills.”

Iwanonkiw, who lives in Pittsburgh's Overbrook neighborhood, said his mother made him take up diving after he quit gymnastics. He trained with a diving club for about two years.

“Coach Haley Ashner is great and has been a huge contributor to my success,” Iwanonkiw said. “She has helped me to improve my dives and taught me new dives, too.”

Iwanonkiw said his goal is to do well at WPIALs and make it to the PIAA championship.

Quaker Valley, which was 7-0 in dual meets heading into this week, is three-time defending WPIAL Class AA champion.

On the girls side, sophomore Annie Hrabovsky (202.65) comes in sixth in WPIAL Class AA in 1-meter for six dives.

She and freshman Clara Brooks (155.45) made cuts for the WPIAL and MAC championships.

Hrabovsky gave credit to Ashner — a former Quakers diver who competed for Washington & Jefferson and is in her first year at the helm.

“Coach Haley is an incredible coach,” Hrabovsky said. “She's encouraging and knowledgeable.

“She believes in us even when we don't believe in ourselves.”

Ashner is trying to stabilize a program that has had many changes in recent seasons.

“I hoped to bond with the kids, coach them to the best of my ability, challenge them to learn new things and simply share my love of the sport with them,” she said. “Ultimately, I would love to see all four of them (boys and girls) compete at WPIALs this season.”

Junior Megan Harkins, who also swims, has qualified for MACs.

Quaker Valley first-year swimming coach Erin Cawley is impressed by the divers.

“Each one of them has continued to improve,” she said.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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