Ruby Olliffe, Quaker Valley divers have strong showing at WPIAL meet

Sunday, March 5, 2023 | 11:01 AM

Quaker Valley’s Ruby Olliffe repeated as the WPIAL Class 2A runner-up in girls diving.

The sophomore diving specialist placed second to North Catholic’s Maggie Foley with a 477.65-point total at the WPIAL finals Feb. 24 at North Allegheny.

“It was an incredibly competitive meet. Every girl there came prepared with their best dives, and there was a lot of talent on the pool deck,” said Becca Kirby, QV’s diving coach. “Ruby Olliffe had a great day. She had a very successful performance. She has remained consistent all season with her scoring, and it was no different at the WPIAL meet.

“With the new WPIAL dive format, the divers completed 12 dives versus 11. While it doesn’t seem like a big change, that’s now one more dive they must score well on. To complete 12 dives well is difficult, and I am thrilled with how Ruby handled the change. Second place is an amazing achievement among difficult competition.”

Olliffe was aiming for a successful showing and her hard work at practice paid off.

“I was unbelievably happy with my performance,” she said. “I’m happy to place so high against such talented divers. A silver medal at WPIALs is an honor and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I think there is always room for improvement. I think the next three weeks, while I get ready for states, are just going to be about cleaning up and perfecting my dives.”

Foley, a senior and Pitt recruit who compiled a 491.40 score, and Olliffe have finished one-two at the WPIAL meet in back-to-back years.

“Maggie Foley and Ruby Olliffe are definitely the two top competitors in 2A diving,” Kirby said earlier this year. “I knew coming into this season that Ruby would be a strong competitor. Last season, 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.”

Foley, who was a PIAA runner-up last year, has won four straight WPIAL championships. She is the fifth girl to earn four gold medals in diving and the first since Maria Lohman of Chartiers Valley did so from 2012-15.

“I’m so proud of my fellow competitor, Maggie Foley. She deserved that win and to go out on top as a senior,” Olliffe said. “I’m also incredibly proud that all three Quaker Valley divers got on the podium and are going to states. So, I’m very happy to say the least.”

QV ended up with three divers among the WPIAL’s top six as junior Katie Blackmer and sophomore Ruby Krotine corralled fifth and sixth place.

“We will be sending all three to states,” Kirby said. “We were the only (2A) school to have more than one diver qualify for states. To be sending three divers is amazing, and I am so happy for the girls. They have put in a lot of hours and hard work to achieve this, and it is very rewarding to see it all pay off.”

Blackmer and Krotine posted scores of 401.95 and 391.10 at the WPIAL finals.

“I could not be prouder of Ruby Krotine’s performance,” Kirby said. “Throughout the season, I focused on having her compete her hardest dives so that she would be comfortable with them by WPIALs. I also knew she had very high-scoring voluntary dives. Almost every dive (at the WPIAL meet) was the best she’s ever done, and that is very hard to do in a high-pressure situation.

“Katie Blackmer had a bit of an off day, which is never ideal at a championship meet. Diving is a very mental sport, and Katie showed phenomenal mental strength by not letting any bad dives affect her future dives. I was very impressed with how she handled it. To have an off day, still place fifth and qualify for states speaks volumes about her as a diver.”

Blackmer repeated her fifth-place performance from a year ago and was excited to qualify for states once again.

“The WPIAL championship was definitively competitive. I was happy to have been able to perform well enough to place fifth and make the cut for the state championship,” Blackmer said. “The state championship will be much different than it was when I competed last year. The switch to a six-dive format from the usual 11 will mean we will have to be more careful in the dives we select. But since we are doing fewer dives, I feel there is definitely room for me to focus on that limited set of dives and improve my form.

“Even with the changes, I’m really excited for the opportunity to compete against girls from all over the state.”

Krotine moved up one spot from seventh to sixth at the WPIAL meet. She also was thrilled to advance to the PIAA finals.

“I am very happy with my performance at WPIALs. There are always aspects of my dives that I think I could have done better, but overall, I had a great meet,” Krotine said. “Going in, I knew I was going up against some amazing divers. Looking back on last season and WPIALs, I think all three of us have really improved. Having Becca Kirby back for the dive season has been amazing. I started my diving career with Becca, and she really pushes us to be the best divers we can be.

“I’m super excited for the upcoming opportunity at states. There’s always room for improvement leading up to states. I think it’s going to be all about getting reps in and trying to get consistent entries on my optionals.”

Quaker Valley was the only team to have three divers qualify for states in 2022, and Olliffe and Krotine were two of only three freshmen to qualify.

Olliffe placed sixth at the PIAA meet last year. Blackmer was a semifinalist and finished 17th. Krotine advanced to the quarterfinal round and ended up 22nd.

“Katie 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.”

Quaker Valley’s talented trio regularly ranked among the leading competitors on the board 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.

“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.”

This year’s PIAA Class 2A girls diving finals will take place March 15 at Bucknell.

“Now that states is only six dives, it could truly be anyone’s meet,” Olliffe said. “Whoever is on it that day could win, which is really upsetting for all the divers in Pennsylvania that have worked hard to get to where they are.

“Nonetheless, we will do our best and see what happens.”

The WPIAL also will be represented at the PIAA meet by Hampton freshman Gabriella Elk (450.25), who placed third in 2A, Thomas Jefferson junior Addison Arndt (413.65) and Northgate junior Lilia Mackenzie (386.75).

Mackenzie and Arndt ended up 11th and 13th, respectively, at states last season.


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