Seneca Valley’s Isaiah Clerkley takes silver as 3 from WPIAL earn PIAA diving medals

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Saturday, March 18, 2023 | 3:52 PM


LEWISBURG — Isaiah Clerkley hit his sixth and final dive – an inward 1½ somersault pike with a 2.4 degree of difficulty – to move into first place in Saturday’s PIAA Class 3A boys championship meet at Bucknell University.

The Seneca Valley junior and WPIAL champion finished with 302.95 points.

As the fourth diver in the order, Clerkley then had to wait 19 dives before his closest competitor, North Penn junior Brady Stanton, executed his final dive.

Stanton’s sixth offering, with a 2.8 degree of difficulty, scored 54.60 points. That was enough to overtake Clerkley by the slimmest of margins.

Stanton captured the state title with 306.30 points, just 3.35 points ahead of Clerkley.

“I was happy with how I did,” said Clerkley, who finished 15th at states last year as a sophomore after taking second at WPIALs.

“I hit all my dives the way I wanted. I knew Brady was all the way at the end, and I knew it wasn’t over until it was over. I was hoping for the best, but I knew he would probably score well on his final dive.

“I was a little upset that I didn’t get the title, but I did all I could do. This will definitely fuel me to work harder and get better and hopefully come back next year and try to win.”

Of the four WPIAL entries overall, three won top-eight medals.

Senior Jeremiah Laslavic, competing for the final time in a high school meet, moved up 11 spots from 16th last year for fifth with 267.30 points.

He finished 1.10 points away from fourth and 16.15 away from third.

“This is an amazing feeling,” Laslavic said. “I’ve been collecting medals throughout my whole career, but this one feels so much better because it is an individual medal, and most of my medals are from team sports. This one is very special to me.”

Laslavic, the WPIAL runner-up to Clerkley this year and the third-place finisher at WPIALs last year, also did all he could do to earn a spot at states as a sophomore in 2021.

He took fifth at WPIALs, and the regular allotment of PIAA entries from the WPIAL that year was five.

However, covid logistics at the time had the PIAA take only the district champions for the state competition, and it left Laslavic on the outside looking in.

Fox Chapel sophomore Jackson Hagler scored a 45.10 on his sixth dive, and he landed in eighth with 242.35 points.

He qualified for this year’s PIAA meet with a fourth-place finish at WPIALs and competed at Bucknell for the second time in as many years to start his high school career.

Hagler moved up 11 spots from last year’s 19th place at states.

“I am really pleased with how I did,” said Hagler, who ended up six points clear of ninth place. “I did the best I could, and it turned out well.

“My last dive (inward 1½ tuck with a 2.2 DD) was one that I knew I could hit consistently, and it gave me confidence I could score well enough to keep me in contention for a medal. It was going well in warm-ups, and I knew if I kept my mind clear I would do well.”

Hagler said last year’s experience at Bucknell helped him in his preparation and approach to Saturday’s return performance.

“It helped calm my nerves and let me know it is such an honor to be here,” Hagler said. “I am really excited for the future and what I can accomplish.”

Seneca Valley senior Sam Hersick didn’t make the medals stand, but he finished 12th overall, just 13 points away from eighth.

Hersick, third at WPIALs this year, made a move up in the standings from 21st last year.

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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