Choma, Lehman win league diving gold
Parkland’s Lexi Lehman continued her mastery among Eastern Pennsylvania Conference divers with a gold medal at Saturday’s EPC Diving Championships at Emmaus High School. Lehman was followed closely by teammate Alexa Brinker, with Parkland’s Kate Gottwald finishing fourth. The only non-Parkland diver on the medal stand was Emmaus’ Jess Hurlburt, who finished third.
For the boys, freshman Logan Choma followed up his second-place finish at the midseason meet with gold in the EPC championship as he bested teammate Kole Cannon for the top spot. Emmaus’ Brendan McCourt finished third, with Devin Cahill placing fourth for Parkland.
Choma was second after the first dive of the day, but his front, two-and-a-half somersault dive in round two netted him a 48 score, which pushed him past McCourt for the top spot. From there, Choma never really ran into much trouble and led the rest of the way with a top score of 480.40 in the meet.
The freshman delivered the highest-scoring dive of the day when he was awarded a 57.40 on an inward two somersault tuck that he delivered perfectly. The dive vaulted Choma to a strong lead, but he wasn’t prepared to declare himself the winner just yet.
“I didn’t know if I had it for sure, because I did really well on that dive, but my dive after that was a lower DD [degree of difficulty] dive, so it’s harder to get more points,” said Choma. “Brendan had a higher DD dive, so it was easier for him to get more points. I just had to try my best and see what happens.”
McCourt was able to hold on to second place throughout most of the meet, but after his final dive, it was ruled that he had performed his last two dives out of order. The ruling caused his final dive to be declared a failed dive, which put Cannon into the silver medal spot on the podium.
“I didn’t expect anything in particular,” said Cannon. “I was just going to do my best and hope that I ended up on the podium.”
The battle for fourth place went on throughout the meet, with Cahill moving into fourth after the sixth round only to drop back again a round later. Over the final four rounds, Cahill tightened his grip on the spot and wound up with a fairly comfortable edge for the final medal.
Lehman needed a late surge after falling to second in the standings after the ninth round. Hurlburt delivered a big dive in that round and moved into first, but in the 11th round, both Lehman and Brinker had dives with a higher DD than Hurlburt, which proved to be the difference as both divers were able to pass Hurlburt with their final dive to finish one-two in the meet.
“I’ve had some pretty rough practices lately, but my practice yesterday went well, so I was pretty confident coming in,” said Lehman. “What helped me the most was that my easy dives were really consistent, so that helped me out a lot, and my back one-and-a-half was probably my best dive.”
Brinker’s second-place finish was especially impressive because she’s battling a knee injury and had to dive with a support on her knee. The injury has hampered her on and off and she’s never really sure from one day to the next just how she’ll feel.
“I’m pretty happy with the finish, but I didn’t dive to my best ability today and I was a little off,” said Brinker. “As I got further on the list, it got worse and I was getting tired. I’m hoping that it will be at least about 50-percent better for districts, but I don’t know how that will go.”
Before districts, Parkand and Emmaus have their annual rivalry meet, which will go toward determining the EPC championship for swimming and diving. The meet, which is the biggest of the season for both teams, will feature boys and girls teams for both teams that have gone undefeated throughout the EPC portion of their schedule.
Emmaus has a developing diving program, but Parkland will be aided by their depth off the boards.
“It always feels good to help the swim team, but it’s not as big of a difference in a dual meet as it is in an invitational, because of the way the scoring is set up,” said Parkland diving coach Cary Lehman. “Every little bit helps and we’re always willing to contribute.”