North Catholic sweeps WPIAL Class AA diving championships

Friday, February 21, 2020 | 8:51 PM

North Catholic, on the backs of a freshman and a senior, dominated the girls and boys events at the WPIAL Class AA diving championships Friday at South Park.

Freshman Maggie Foley led the 14-team girls field the entire way through 11 dives, winning by 41.40 points with a score of 440.45.

Her school was a handful of points better than last year’s champion, now-graduated Anna Vogt of Ringgold. She also is the first new champion since Vogt won the first of her back-to-back titles as a junior.

Later in the day, Kyle Maziarz picked up his second WPIAL title. The senior led from start to finish on his way to setting the WPIAL Class AA meet record for scoring with 558.05 points, which surpassed the mark set by last year’s champion, Beaver’s Andrew Cestra (522.20). Maziarz was runner-up last season.

Foley scored at least 32 points on each of her 11 dives, with five dives of at least 40 points and a 50.40-point dive, which rounded out her day and was the meet’s best.

“I was a little nervous going into the third round, but I just tried to trust the process and went for it,” Foley said. “This means a lot coming in as a freshman. I wasn’t expecting it. I thought it would be extremely difficult to even get to second after being seeded third.”

Foley was a gymnast but said she suffered so many injuries she couldn’t do it anymore. That’s when she fell in love with diving.

Foley battled with silver medalist Taylor Weyrich and bronze medalist Alexa Gonczi for a good portion of the meet but used dives of 40-plus points in each of her final three dives to pull away.

Weyrich, a senior at Seton LaSalle, finished with 399.05 points, just under seven points ahead of Central Valley junior Alexa Gonczi, who finished second last year.

Knoch senior Ary Napora (329.95), Central Valley junior Alyssa Bruno (323.35) and Derry junior Alison Cowan (317.35) round out the six girls who qualified for the PIAA championships.

The event was different for the boys.

Maziarz started with the lead with a dive for 42.50 points and scored below that three times the rest of the way but never below 36 points.

The victory was never in doubt. In fact, in large part because of six 50-plus-point efforts in his 11 dives, including three 60-point dives, Maziarz shattered the district record. With Cestra graduated, Maziarz said the number 522.20 haunted him.

“This year, I knew that I needed to just focus on myself and compete against my number from last year and the record Andrew set last year,” he said. “I needed to not worry as much about what the other divers were doing. I didn’t catch myself looking at the leaderboards as much this year.”

Maziarz said he feels like he can improve on his performance but felt his day was solid.

“There are two dives I feel I can score better on,” he said. “Like I said, that 522 number has been in my head all year, so when I was closing in on it, I knew I’d have to hit the last couple of dives. This means a legacy, and that’s been something I’ve wanted to do. I wanted to leave here knowing my name would be up here for at least a year.”

Maziarz will be joined at the state championship by Quaker Valley junior Simon Iwanonkiw, who finished second with 422.90 points, South Park junior Cole O’Connor, who finished third with 409.30 points and four more: Ringgold junior Jonnie McDuffie (403.25), Elizabeth Forward senior Gavin Guern (386.20), Keystone Oaks junior Alex Oleksak (350.35) and Knoch sophomore Kevin Golden (335.50).

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