WPIAL trio claims PIAA Class 2A boys diving medals

Thursday, March 16, 2023 | 6:02 PM

A trio from the WPIAL took their places on the medal podium at the conclusion of the PIAA Class 2A boys diving championship meet Thursday afternoon at Bucknell University.

WPIAL champion Brecken Finkbeiner, a junior from Blackhawk, led the WPIAL contingent with a fourth-place finish with 219.35 points, 15 points shy of third place and nine clear of fifth.

“My second dive, my front two and a half, wasn’t the best, but other than that, I dove a lot better than I thought coming in,” said Finkbeiner, who placed sixth at last year’s PIAA meet. “I was really happy with my performance overall.”

Finkbeiner is just two years removed from being denied an opportunity to make his debut at states. At WPIALs his freshman year, he took fifth, normally a place finish that earns a diver an automatic berth to the PIAA meet.

However, with the state meet moved from Bucknell to Cumberland Valley High School amidst the logistics changes because of the coronavirus pandemic, only the district champions dove at the state meet.

He came back last year as a sophomore and placed third at WPIALs to earn his spot at states.

“I want to get even higher on the podium next year, and this is great motivation to get better,” Finkbeiner said. “I know it won’t be easy. The competition got a lot harder from last year. Each round, I needed to focus for my best dive. It definitely will be a challenging coming back next year, but I am excited for it.”

Northgate junior Ryan Hartle, this year’s WPIAL runner-up, came close to a top-eight medal last year at states but had to settle for ninth.

He bumped up two spots in Thursday’s competition, landing in seventh (194.85).

“I just had to focus on myself and execute my best dives to get top eight,” Hartle said. “I am just really happy to get up on the podium. It was so hard last year being just one place away.”

Rounding out the medalists was West Allegheny junior Caleb Gnoth, who finished the six-dive competition with 183.65 points. He edged out Danville sophomore Gavin Holcombe for the last medal by 1.20 points.

Gnoth placed fifth at WPIALs on Feb. 24 at North Allegheny.

“I’ve dove with (Hartle and Gnoth) all season, so it’s nice to be up on the (PIAA) podium with them,” Finkbeiner said.

WPIAL divers owned eight of the 23 spots in Thursday’s competition.

Rounding out the WPIAL finishes were South Park freshman Grant Newell (11th), Derry sophomore Jacob Hauser (12th), Indiana freshman Austin Schawl (13th), Latrobe junior Abby Cook (15th) and Central Valley senior Colton Super (20th).

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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