Hampton’s Gabby Elk takes 2nd at PIAA Class 2A diving championships

Saturday, March 16, 2024 | 4:43 PM

LEWISBURG — Hampton sophomore Gabby Elk sat in fifth place after the second round of dives Saturday afternoon at the PIAA Class 2A championships at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium.

But she made a final push over the final three dives, scoring 121.40 points to move to second in the final standings.

“I had some iffy dives at the beginning, and I was really trying to make up for them so I could place where I really wanted to place,” said Elk, who earned an eighth-place medal in her PIAA debut last year.

“I just needed to concentrate on just one dive at a time, and I wanted to stay loose and have fun. I was dancing and having fun with my friends. I felt proud that I was able to execute dives the way I know I could.”

Elk said experiencing states last year helped her in her return Saturday.

“It helped to have that experience, but at the same time, it was different this year because we only did six dives last year, and it was back to 11 dives this year,” Elk said.

“I think 11 dives is a lot more fair. With six dives, there is less margin for error.”

Of the seven divers from the WPIAL, six made the finals, and four earned medals.

Quaker Valley junior Ruby Olliffe picked up her third state medal in as many competitions. She finished fourth overall with 379.20 points.

Olliffe was seventh last year, and sixth in 2022.

Quaker Valley senior Kaitlyn Blackmer (377.50) and Northgate senior Lilia Mackenzie (358.95) both earned PIAA medals for the first time in their respective third trips to states.

Blackmer finished sixth, and Mackenzie placed eighth.

Mackenzie stood in 15th after the first round of five dives, but moved up to ninth heading into the finals before bumping up one spot and reaching the medals podium.

Quaker Valley junior Ruby Krotine (352.90) finished 10th, her best finish in her third PIAA meet. She was just 6.05 points away from eighth.

Beaver senior Elizabeth Michael ended up 11th (347.40) only 5.5 points away from Krotine.

“Everyone in the WPIAL is so athletic and competitive,” Elk said. “I had no doubt that everyone was going to do well and that we would have several place or earn medals. We were all diving really well at this meet.”

Derry junior Caeli Keenan was eliminated after the first round. She finished 21st with a five-dive total of 137.50 points.

Brianne Dempsey, a senior from Dallas in District 2, captured the title with 411.85 points. She finished third last year behind Bethlehem Catholic graduate Anna Petke and North Catholic grad Maggie Foley.

“She is a very clean diver,” Elk said. “She rips all of her dives. It’s fun watching her.”

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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