Quaker Valley divers preparing for WPIAL, PIAA championships

Sunday, February 5, 2023 | 11:01 AM

A trio of skillful Quaker Valley divers has laid the foundation for a potentially prodigious high school career.

The QV girls competed Jan. 28 at the Beaver Bobcats Diving Invitational against many of the top divers in Western Pennsylvania.

Repeating their performance at last year’s PIAA Class 2A championships, QV was the only team to have three divers finish in the top 10.

Sophomore Ruby Olliffe captured third place, junior Katie Blackmer took fifth and sophomore Ruby Krotine ended up ninth.

“It was awesome job,” said John Nemeth, QV’s head coach. “I can’t say enough about those girls. They are an impressive group that contributes massively at every single meet.”

In all, there were 28 competitors — representing Class 2A and 3A schools — at the invitational held at Beaver High School.

“Anytime an athlete participates in a combined double-A and triple-A event, the competition level increases, and it requires them to give their best,” QV diving coach Becca Kirby said. “There were a lot of very talented divers there, and I was incredibly proud to have three in the top 10.”

Olliffe and Krotine were two of the three freshmen who qualified for the PIAA diving finals last year. Olliffe reeled in sixth place at the state meet after finishing as the WPIAL runner-up.

“I knew coming into this season that Ruby Olliffe would be a strong competitor,” Kirby said. “Last season, as a freshman, Ruby definitely made her name known and set herself up for future success in PIAA diving.

“She is a very consistent and clean diver. Her ability to consistently perform clean entries is definitely what allows her to maintain her spot as a top competitor in 2A diving.

“Ruby Krotine also gave an incredible performance (at Beaver). Seventh to ninth place was separated by two points, and she has put herself in a great position going into WPIALs.”

Blackmer and Krotine finished 17th and 22nd, respectively, at last year’s state finals and have displayed steady improvement in 2022-23.

“Katie Blackmer and Ruby Krotine took me by surprise with the amount of offseason training they did,” Kirby said. “The two of them have given 110% at every practice and have taken themselves to the next level with their diving. Each week, I watch their scores continue to rise, and I think their performances (at Beaver) were a testament to the amount of work they have been putting in and how much they have improved.

“Katie Blackmer has gone from finishing 17th at states to being in the top five at an incredibly competitive Invitational. (North Catholic’s) Maggie Foley and Ruby Olliffe are definitely the two top competitors in 2A diving, and Katie Blackmer has now put herself in the mix. The three were neck and neck, alternating rankings, with less than one point separating them at times, for most of the Invitational. Based on what I saw, I expect 2A diving at WPIALs to be very competitive.”

Quaker Valley took first place in the girls scoring and second overall at the invitational.

“We don’t have any boy divers on our team,” Kirby said, “which means we were able to be competitive with not only triple-A schools but also schools that took both boys and girls to the invitational.”

Olliffe, Blackmer and Krotine have consistently ranked among the leading divers at QV swim meets this season.

“My standards are definitely set high for the girls since we have so much talent on one team,” Kirby said. “The internal talent level increases the competition and level at which they perform on a daily basis. At the last several dual meets, Katie Blackmer and Ruby Olliffe have been within 10 points of each other, and I am very proud to have divers that will be able to be highly competitive at WPIALs and hopefully the PIAA championships.”

The trio’s priority this month is competing at the WPIAL diving championship, which is scheduled for Feb. 24 at North Allegheny.

“We’re less than 30 days from WPIALs and at this point all new dives have been learned,” Kirby said. “Our focus now will be to clean up and perfect the dives they have and hopefully get all three to states.

“Ultimately, my goal is to get all three in the top 10 at the state championships, and I think we are headed in the right direction.”


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