Parkland Press

Tuesday, February 25, 2020
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZLexi Lehman took first place in Saturday’s East Penn Conference midseason diving meet. PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZLexi Lehman took first place in Saturday’s East Penn Conference midseason diving meet.

Lehman wins midseason diving meet

Thursday, January 16, 2020 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

Competition among teammates can breed a lot of success. That’s been the case for Parkland diving for a while and it continues to be the case. At this year’s midseason East Penn Conference diving competition, Parkland divers showed up often at the top of the leader’s board with Lexi Lehman winning on the girls side and Ethan Radio finishing second among boys.

Lehman combined with Kate Gottwald and Alexa Brinker to give Parkland the top three spots among the girls. Lehman finished at the top with a score of 460.20 with Gottwald coming in at 415.45 and Brinker finishing with a final score of 398.20 in the 11-dive meet.

“When it started off I wasn’t really as confident this year, but as it’s progressing I’m certainly picking up steam, so I’m excited about how it’s going now,” said Lehman, who sees the meet as an opportunity to gauge where she is at compared to other divers in the area. “I like this meet because it’s got a really good atmosphere and it starts to really prepare you for districts.”

Lehman took the lead early and never looked back. Gottwald took a hold on the number-two spot and didn’t relinquish it throughout the meet. Brinker had a bit more of a challenge as she trailed Freedom’s Sarah Gill for third place through their first five dives. From there out though, Brinker turned it up a notch and moved into third place by the end of the eighth round and stayed there through her final three dives with Gill finishing fourth.

Parkland’s Cora Hochstettler rounded out the top five. Ally Roth finished seventh and Lady Trojan divers Katey Kunz, Maria DeBernardinis and Amanda Klotz finished 14, 15 and 16, resepectively.

On the boys side, defending state champion Brendan McCourt from Emmaus led from the first dive to the last and finished with a score of 525.20, besting Radio’s score of 423.55. Parkland swept the third through sixth spots with divers Kole Cannon, Logan Choma, Ryan Beltrame and Matthew Blommel taking those spots.

“The competition from my teammates always makes me push myself,” said Radio. “We always talk to each other about our dives and encourage each other.”

Like Lehman, Radio viewed the midseason competition as a tune-up for league and district competitions to come later in the season. Both Lehman and Radio also talked about how the meet gets them a little more focused on the competition for districts and where they need to improve among their dives.

“It’s events like this that are really similar to how it’s going to be in those [postseason] events,” Radio said. “It’s like getting to have a practice for those events. I had to come back from an injury for this season, so it’s been a little hard to get back into things, but I feel like I’m getting back. It took me about two months to get back to where I’m feeling really good.”

Lehman also believes that getting as much time off the boards at Emmaus High School, where the meet was held, is important since that is also where district diving will be held this season and the familiarity of the board and the venue can help her dives.

“I like to be familiar with the boards and just feel more comfortable when I go into districts and it helps that I’ve gotten to dive here pretty much,” said Lehman, who will be continuing her diving career at James Madison University next fall.

It’s very possible that Lehman will be competing in states at Bucknell University in March, but for now, she’s not focusing on that. “I don’t think about that until the last minute; the day before,” she said.