North Allegheny freshman diver Ennis qualifies for PIAA meet

Friday, March 2, 2018 | 11:00 PM

North Allegheny freshman Maya Ennis switched sports and it paid off for her at the WPIAL Class AAA girls diving championship meet Feb. 24 at North Allegheny.

Ennis, 15, placed fifth, earning the district's final spot at the PIAA championship March 14-15 at Bucknell.

Ennis retired after eight years as a gymnast in late January to devote more time to diving.

“I had suffered so many injuries from gymnastics that it began to be more painful than enjoyable,” she said. “I found myself having more fun at diving.

“Also, I realized that diving would give me a better chance at college sports.”

Ennis participated on a limited basis during the regular season.

“When she arrived on the first day of the season, she told us she wanted to try diving, but would only be available to practice (two days a week),” Tigers diving coach Patti McClure said. “We agreed to a modified schedule and she qualified for the WPIAL meet at her first competition.

“We could see that she was having a great time at our practices and doing very well, learning a ton of dives.”

Ennis did better than expected at the WPIAL championship.

“My goal was only to make finals,” she said. “Once I accomplished (that), I just tried to dive the best that I could.”

“I was thinking she could have a shot at being on the podium (in the top eight),” McClure said. “We would have been thrilled to have her in the top 10.”

Ennis edged Butler sophomore Paige Williams for fifth place, scoring 339.85 points to Williams' 339.45 points for 11 dives.

Penn-Trafford junior Paige Kalik won with 440.40 points.

McClure, a member of the WPIAL swimming and diving steering committee, said Ennis is the fifth freshman from the district to make it to states since 2006.

Ennis gave a lift to the Tigers, who were looking to wrap up a record 10th straight WPIAL Class AAA title with swimming March 1-2 at Pitt's Trees Pool.

Ennis does not expect to place at the PIAA championship.

“I'm just hoping to have fun and learn from the more experienced divers,” she said.

“We will go into the state meet with a goal of making the final cut,” McClure said. “I think that is well within her reach.”

Ennis has stepped up her training with the Pittsburgh Diving Club at Pitt, where she has practiced for several years.

“She has good diving talent and lots of experience competing in gymnastics,” said Dorothy “Doe” Krug, a coach with the club. “Her personality is outgoing.

“These all allow her to have quick success.”

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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