North Catholic’s Maggie Foley goes 4 for 4 at WPIAL Class 2A diving championships
Friday, February 24, 2023 | 7:04 PM
Change was afoot at North Allegheny High School for the WPIAL Class 2A diving championships.
Last year’s boys champion, Nick Roddy from Ligonier Valley, graduated, so a new champion would be crowned.
Additionally, the PIAA instituted a pilot program, changing the format for the state championships to six dives, down from the previous total of 11. So that meant the WPIAL chose a 12-dive format for this year’s competition.
One thing stayed the same, though: the girls champion.
North Catholic’s Maggie Foley captured her fourth straight gold medal with a score of 491.40.
“It’s crazy,” Foley said. “Coming in my freshman year, I was just so excited to be there and be with my teammates, so from then until now, it’s just crazy how everything’s unfolded.”
Hampton freshman Gabriella Elk and sophomore Quaker Valley’s Ruby Olliffe gave Foley all she could handle, with each holding the lead at times. Foley scored 52.80 on her sixth and final dive of the opening round to take her first outright lead, one she did not relinquish.
Foley said she was looking at the scores as the competition moved on.
“I was kind of (paying attention) but not super focused on it,” she said. “Before I would go up to do my dive, you could watch what your (previous) dive just was and you could see the score. That was kind of nice, so I could pace myself and know what I had to do on the board.”
Olliffe, who finished second last year, again took silver with a score of 477.65. Elk’s great afternoon ended in bronze at 450.25. Olliffe will lead a contingent of three Quakers into the PIAA competition, where she finished sixth last year.
With the victory, Foley becomes the fifth girls diver to win four gold medals and the first since Maria Lohman of Chartiers Valley accomplished the feat from 2012-15.
Addison Arndt (Thomas Jefferson, 413.65), Kaitlyn Blackmer (Quaker Valley, 401.95), Ruby Krotine (Quaker Valley, 391.10) and Lilia Mackenzie (Northgate, 386.75) also will represent the WPIAL in the state championships.
Mackenzie and Arndt finished 11th and 13th, respectively, at the state championships last year, and Blackmer made the semifinal round. Krotine was a quarterfinalist.
Foley, a Pitt recruit who took state silver last year, is looking forward to the next challenge in spite of the new six-dive format.
“They cap the first two voluntary dives at a 1.8 (degree of difficulty), so I don’t know,” Foley said when asked about her dive selection for states. “I’ll have to play around with it and try and figure out what’s going to work the best.”
The girls PIAA championships are March 15 at Bucknell.
On the boys side, Brecken Finkbeiner from Blackhawk rolled with the changes and captured the gold medal, posting a score of 488.00. The junior who earned the bronze medal last year scored more than 50 points on three of his final four dives to overtake Northgate’s Ryan Hartle (460.80), who was runner-up for the second straight year.
“I’m just really happy with how I dove in the second round today,” Finkbeiner said. “I worked really hard in the offseason, and I’m really happy it all paid off.”
Derry sophomore Jacob Hauser (426.55) was the bronze medalist.
Hartle and Finkbeiner kept leapfrogging each other as the championship round progressed. Finkbeiner admitted he stopped scoreboard watching early in the round.
“I was trying not to look at it,” he said. “I noticed earlier that (Hartle) was in the lead, and I didn’t want to focus on that.”
Freshman Grant Newell from South Park had a great initial showing, finishing fourth with a score of 378.75. Caleb Gnoth (West Allegheny, 356.45), Colton Super (Central Valley, 320.15) and Abby Cook (Latrobe, 287.40) rounded out the top boys finishers.
The top seven boys divers head to the PIAA championships March 16 at Bucknell. Finkbeiner finished sixth in last year’s state championship, with Hartle ninth and Hauser 13th.