Confidence, repertoire grow for Fox Chapel diver David Manelis

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Monday, December 16, 2019 | 6:46 PM


David Manelis was in contention for gold at last year’s PIAA Class AAA boys diving championships at Bucknell.

The Fox Chapel junior, competing at states for the second time in as many seasons after placing fourth at WPIALs, challenged for the title in all three rounds before finishing second to Emmaus junior Brendan McCourt.

“I was really proud of the way I performed at states,” said Manelis, one of six underclassmen in the 16-diver finals last year. “I dove my best. But this year, I am bringing harder dives, and I am feeling more confident.”

That confidence, he hopes, will help drive him to contend again for the top spots at WPIALs and states. But, he said, he is not getting ahead of himself.

“The goal is to train hard and get better every week,” Manelis said. “I am always seeing ways I can improve a dive and work on my overall list. I can’t worry about WPIALs or states yet. They’re still a couple of months away.”

Manelis got a chance to see where he stood against some of the other top divers from Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Virginia at the West Chester Diving Fall Classic on Nov. 23-24 at West Chester University near Philadelphia.

Representing Pitt Aquatic Club, Manelis competed in the 16-18 boys division in the 1-meter and 3-meter springboards and placed fifth in both.

“I felt really comfortable competing at that meet,” said Manelis, who has garnered attention from several Division I colleges.

His performance impressed first-year Fox Chapel coach Joey Ference, a former WPIAL and PIAA champion at Penn-Trafford and diver at Pitt who now coaches the Pitt Aquatic Club.

“He faced some really good competitors that he could see later on this year at states,” Ference said.

“He still has a lot to grow with. He’s still a younger diver and hasn’t hit his peak, yet.”

Manelis said while there was a sizable amount of diving excellence that moved on from the WPIAL and state level because of graduation, including Fox Chapel’s three-time WPIAL Class AAA champion Jonah Cagley, he knows his quest for championships will be far from easy.

One of the challenges this year will come from Foxes teammate Aiden Ireland, a junior who placed ninth at WPIALs last year.

On the heels of last March’s performance at states, Manelis went into the offseason hoping to build off the momentum with training and competition at USA Diving meets.

He made the move up to the 16-18 division and placed eighth in 1-meter and 14th in 3-meter competition at the Region 5 championships April 26-28 at Miami (Ohio).

Those finishes qualified Manelis for June’s Zone A championships, one step away from a return trip to nationals.

However, he suffered a broken bone in his left hand a week before the zone meet. Recovery kept him off a diving board for about four weeks.

“On one hand, it was a little disappointing because I wasn’t able to dive at other meets, but I also kind of enjoyed the time off,” Manelis said. “It was kind of a needed thing. I came back refocused.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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