Pine-Richland 1st-year diver claims WPIAL medal

Sunday, March 6, 2022 | 11:01 AM

A few months ago, Kendyll Jerry never had been on a diving board, so leaving the WPIAL championships with a podium finish and a medal was quite a feat.

Jerry, a freshman at Pine-Richland, placed eighth in the WPIAL Class 3A girls meet Feb. 26 at North Allegheny.

She posted a score of 355.90, finishing 14 points ahead of Mars’ Kristen Maybach for the final spot on the podium.

“Everything went pretty well,” Jerry said of her first WPIAL diving championship experience. “I was really nervous, but once I got going, it was good. The first couple dives were nerve-racking.”

Jerry was one of three female divers to qualify for Pine-Richland. Maddie Alexander, a senior, and Emily Smallwood, a junior, made the final cut after eight dives. Alexander placed 12th, and Smallwood was 13th.

Jerry had a gymnastics background but decided to move on from the sport. That’s when she decided to give diving a try to go along with playing lacrosse at Pine-Richland.

“A bunch of girls from gymnastics are divers. A couple of my friends were doing it, so I decided to try it out and I’m happy I did,” she said. “I love it.”

She was very raw and inexperienced when she came to Pine-Richland diving coach Maria Misenhelter but quickly showed promise. Misenhelter was impressed with Jerry’s determination through her progression.

“She improved so much throughout the season,” Misenhelter said. “She started with a basic list. She could only do the required dives. The learning curve this year was amazing. She takes direction extremely well. Anything I ask her to do, she does. She’ll come in after two hours of running during a lacrosse practice and goes right to diving or after being in the pool and getting wet, she’ll go out in the freezing cold for a lacrosse practice. It’s an incredible work ethic that she has.”

Jerry practiced a reverse dive the week of WPIALs to add a dive with a higher degree of difficulty to her repertoire. She practiced it up until the day before and debuted it in the semifinals of the meet. Jerry was fifth after the preliminary round and in the final qualifying spot for states but was passed by a couple divers who attempted dives with higher degrees of difficulty to score more points.

With another year of training, Jerry will have some of those dives in her arsenal and is hopeful she can make states as a sophomore.

“She’ll do rec club, and we have some new dives for her to do,” Misenhelter said. “Her confidence has grown so much this year.”

Dylan McCabe, the lone Pine-Richland male diver to qualify for WPIALs, ended his career with a medal.

McCabe placed seventh with a score of 316.90. It was a career-best showing for the senior. McCabe was in the mix for a top-five finish throughout the meet but finished 19.6 points behind Seneca Valley’s Sam Hersick, who took home fifth place and the final state qualifying spot. Fox Chapel freshman Jackson Hagler placed sixth at 319.45.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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