Newcomers ready to take plunge for Pine-Richland diving team

Sunday, December 17, 2017 | 11:00 PM

The 2016-17 season was productive for the Pine-Richland diving program, as coach Maria Misenhelter saw three of her divers place in the top 10 at the WPIAL Class AAA diving championships.

However, plenty has changed for the Rams. Maddie Huitt, a fourth-place finisher at last season's WPIAL championships, has moved to Indianapolis to train full-time on the boards, and Mallory Charles, who took sixth place at WPIALs, decided to sit out her senior season.

In their stead, four newcomers have come along to take their crack at diving for Pine-Richland. Two of the girls, freshmen Katelyn Terchick and Grace Johnson, have been with the team since the beginning of the preseason and are making solid progress, Misenhelter said.

The other two girls who will fill out the Rams' diving sheet this season, freshmen Reilly Snyder and Lily Settembrino, were recruited to the team after a teacher noticed their aerial skills during a gym class swim session. While they have not been with the team for long, their coach said they have already flashed some encouraging potential.

“Lily and Reilly, I don't think I've ever had anyone I've coached that has caught on as fast as they have. You can tell from their abilities that they must have some kind of gymnastics background,” Misenhelter said.

“With all four of these girls, they're not afraid. That's important. Now, if they're able to make corrections while keeping that mentality, then they can just keep getting better and better.”

The Rams' other top-10 finisher from last year's WPIAL championships, Austin Shaw, will be the lone boy diver on the team.

Shaw, who took third at the WPIAL finals and 18th at the 2016 state championship, utilized his offseason by learning new dives and fine-tuning his form. Dives such as reverse doubles and back doubles were always in Shaw's arsenal, but he has added a more refined reverse one-and-a-half and a back one-and-a-half along with some different twisting dives to his repertoire.

The senior won't have to wait long for an early-season measuring stick, as the Rams will take the pool against Fox Chapel and reigning WPIAL Class AAA diving champ Jonah Cagley at 6 p.m. Tuesday at home.

“The big test for him is going to be this Tuesday because he's got to go up against Jonah, who was tops in WPIAL last season. It'll be interesting to see what Jonah pulls on Tuesday and what we do with Austin,” Misenhelter said. “I know he loves the competition, so I think he's looking forward to having an opponent like Jonah come to dive against him.”

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.


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