Experience, versatility key for Pine-Richland diving team

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Sunday, January 12, 2020 | 9:33 AM


The Pine-Richland diving team might not boast the deepest roster in WPIAL Class AAA, but while in some cases there is strength in numbers, the Rams are counting on deriving their strength from their adaptability and cohesion.

To add to those traits, this year’s group also features a number of experienced divers, as five of its seven members return after having competed at the varsity level last season. All in all, those characteristics make for a coachable collection of athletes, said coach Maria Misenhelter.

“The good part is with the small group, I always say it’s like coaching special teams in football in that you’re able to focus on specific things with everyone,” Misenhelter said. “And this is a group that tries to encourage each other. They try to motivate each other to try different things. That’s the beauty of it.

“These kids are doing well in capitalizing on the individual talents that they have. They’re adapting and getting the degree of difficulty in their scores up. We try a lot of different things with them, and if it’s not working, then we move on and try something else until it sticks.”

To this point, the Rams have qualified one diver — sophomore Madison Alexander — for the WPIAL championships.

Several others are on the cusp, Misenhelter said, and are working on adding an enhanced degree of difficulty to their arsenal of dives in order to hit the qualifying mark.

Alexander is also one of the more experienced girls on the team, along with junior Lilly Settembrino, who qualified for WPIALs last season.

Rachel Watson and Emily Smallwood are the newcomers to the group, and both are working hard to build upon their skills, their coach said.

All three of the boys divers — Dylan McCabe, Daniel Steger and Briar Wentling — are returners from last season’s team.

McCabe and Steger also swim for Pine-Richland, which speaks to the versatility of the Rams divers. The same goes for Alexander and Settembrino, with the former participating on the gymnastics team and the latter being a member of the competitive cheer program.

“I know it’s tough doing double duty like these kids do, but it’s great that they work so hard for us, too,” Misenhelter said.“It’s nice to have two divers that swim, too. It makes the teams more unified. There’s a lot of support where the swimmers cheer on the divers and vice versa. It’s fun to be a part of.”

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