North Allegheny’s Shi, Schenk sweep WPIAL Class 3A diving titles

Saturday, February 26, 2022 | 6:32 PM

Diving in her home pool and winning gold medals has become quite the habit for North Allegheny junior Christina Shi, as she captured her third straight gold medal with a score of 481.45 in the WPIAL Class 3A girls championship Saturday.

Unlike the previous two championship meets in which Shi scored more than 500 points and was not challenged, Latrobe’s Hannah Polosky and Seneca Valley’s Ashley Felitsky pushed Shi, even leading at times through the first five preliminary dives. However, Shi scored 50.70 on her fifth try, a forward dive with 2½ somersaults.

“I think I did all my dives that I was nervous for pretty well,” said the Harvard-bound Shi. “There is definitely some cleaning up to do, but I’m happy.”

Shi scored over 50 points three times during the meet, including 52.00 on her next-to-last dive, which Shi called “the double twister.”

Junior Polosky and senior Felitsky finished in the top three for the first time in their careers with scores of (430.45) and (405.80), respectively. The top three medal winners were the only divers to break the 400-point mark on the day.

Shi’s teammate, freshman Lola Malarkey, had a great debut, finishing fourth with a score of 379.05. Another North Allegheny teammate, Zoe Ky, qualified for the meet but did not compete. Ky had won consecutive bronze medals, and, along with Shi and current Yale diver Maya Ennis, finished 1-2-3 the last two years.

“I like to keep up with the scoreboard a little bit,” Shi said. “I’m glad this year there were a lot of great divers to compete with.”

Shi also was very complimentary of her teammates.

“I’m very proud of both Maddie (Whitewolf, 335.35, 11th place) and Lola. For her to go to states as a freshman, I’m very happy for her.”

Addison Burnette, a junior from Upper St. Clair, scored 372.85 to edge Seneca Valley’s Madison Monahan by 7.45 points and qualify as the fifth diver from the WPIAL for the state championships.

That competition will be held March 17 at Bucknell. Shi took gold at last year’s state championship at the Kinney Natatorium with a score of 457.50.

Shi wants to fine tune her dives before heading to the state championship.

“Just technique and height also. I’m planning to switch a couple of dives and adding my reverse twister back in.”

The WPIAL Class 3A boys championship went down to the wire, and North Allegheny junior Will Schenk produced a Tigers sweep, winning the gold medal in the final round with a score of 428.60. That edged Seneca Valley sophomore Isaiah Clerkley’s score of 418.20.

Schenk, who won bronze as a freshman and silver last year, was in fourth place after the preliminary round and third after eight dives. He trailed by 45.5 points heading into the 11th and final dive.

“My final three dives were all high DD (degree of difficulty) dives,” Schenk said. “They were hard dives, but I knew if I nailed those, I could finish, if not first, maybe close to first.”

Despite the score, Schenk said he was confident and calm heading into his last dive.

“I was. I knew how many points I needed to score to win. For that dive, it was a little lower (point total) than I really knew I needed.”

The front 2½ pike will go down in history with Schenk and at North Allegheny after Schenk posted a score of 55.90 to win his first gold medal.

“If not the highest, it’s pretty close,” Schenk said when asked if that was the highest one-dive total he has recorded.

Despite the disappointment of the last-dive drop from gold to silver, it was a great afternoon for the Seneca Valley quartet of Clerkley, junior bronze-medal winner Jeremiah Laslavic (394.40), senior Sam Skeen (361.95) and junior Sam Hersick (339.70). All four will head to Bucknell for the PIAA championships.

Schenk did not participate in the state tournament last year, as only the WPIAL champion competed because of covid. Schenk did reach states as a freshman, and that result provides motivation.

“In ninth grade, I got cut after the semifinals,” Schenk said. “Last year they only took first place, so I didn’t get to go. This year, my main goal is to make the final, because I’ve never done that. Whatever happens after that, I’m happy with.”

The PIAA Class 3A boys championship is March 16.


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