Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic’s Maziarz captures PIAA diving title
By: Michael Love
Friday, March 16, 2018 | 11:51 PM
When the high school swimming and diving season began in November, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic sophomore Kyle Maziarz didn't think he would be standing on the top step of the medals podium as the PIAA Class AA boys diving champion.
But there he was Friday afternoon after he turned away the other 23 divers to claim the top spot for the first time in his first trip to diving states.
“I was training for something like this all season,” said Maziarz, who also claimed the WPIAL title last month at North Allegheny High School. “I came in seeded sixth, and I just said I would train hard, give it all I got and see what happens. I wasn't expecting this, but I am certainly not complaining.”
Maziarz didn't dive as a freshman last year because North Catholic didn't have a diving team. He was strictly a swimmer, but he did have diving training from several years earlier.
“We had lost a bunch of meets because we didn't have a diver,” Maziarz said. “(CWNC swim) coach (T.J.) Barry knew I had a diving background, and he asked me if I wanted to dive.”
Maziarz has trained at Pitt with the Pitt Aquatics Club since the beginning of the season, and in addition to that training, he gained experience with 11-dive meets at several competitions throughout the region.
“The 11 dives were nothing new to me at WPIAL and states,” Maziarz said. “I was comfortable with that. That experience really helped me a lot.”
Mariarz was first after the preliminary round of five dives, but he moved to second after the eighth dive that completed the semifinals.
He scored a combined 114.95 points over final set of three dives to clinch the title with a total of 418.70 points.
Five WPIAL divers qualified for the finals. Beaver's Andrew Cestra, third at WPIALs, finished fifth on Friday with 364.00 points. He was 19th at states last year.
Laurel Highlands' John Ek, the 2018 WPIAL runner-up, dove at states for the third year, and he tied for seventh (350.0). He also was seventh last year, and he took 11th in 2016.
Dylan Rice, also from Laurel Highlands, placed 13th for the second year in a row, while South Park's Cole O'Connor finished 16th.
The top six from WPIALs qualified for states. Rice took seventh, but another PIAA district didn't have any divers to fill its allotted spot, so Rice, as an alternate, got the call.
In addition to Maziarz's diving title, WPIAL swimmers produced a trio of runner-up finishes Friday.
Belle Vernon freshman Ian Shahan finished second in the boys 100-yard butterfly.
The WPIAL runner-up in the event, Shahan swam a finals time of 50.70 seconds, faster than his seed time from the prelims (50.83).
“It feels amazing,” said Shahan, who will swim the 100 backstroke (third seed) and the 400 free relay Saturday. “I didn't do as well as I wanted. I wanted first place, as everyone does, but to even be on the podium is great. I worked hard for it, and it shows.”
Adam Mahler, a junior from Holy Redeemer in District 2, captured the state title in a time of 49.96.
WPIAL girls 50 free champion, Mt. Pleasant sophomore Heather Gardner, hoped to bring home more gold at states.
She finished her prelim swim with a 23.59, just two one-hundredths of a second behind Grove City junior Emma Wilson.
In the finals, Wilson edged Gardner again, this time 23.30 to 23.43.
“I was a little disappointed I didn't get my best time (23.25 at WPIALs),” Gardner said. “But second in the state is really good. I'm honored to get second. You go into the 50 hoping you hit everything on point and swim as fast as you can.”
Gardner finished 11th in the 50 free at states last year.
On Saturday, she is the fourth seed in the 100 breaststroke.
Northgate's Karen Siddoway, seeded third in the championship heat of the girls 200 freestyle, moved up one spot to second in the finals with a time of 1:50.45, more than three seconds better than her prelim time and also better than her WPIAL-title time of 1:51.09.
“It was so exciting to see all my hard work pay off and drop that much time,” said Siddoway, who returns Saturday as the top seed in the 100 freestyle.
“I'm ready to come back (Saturday) and hopefully drop more time. I want to get a personal best and see where that puts me. I've always done my best by just swimming my own race and not worrying about anyone else.”