Dallas Senior Shaver Defends 2A District Title
WILKES-BARRE — Jaelyn Shaver has reached the top of the podium before. But that doesn’t mean the nerves go away the next time.
The Dallas senior came into Saturday’s District 2 Class 2A diving championship as the defending champion, a label that also carries a target.
“That’s probably part of the reason I was so nervous,” Shaver said, “Because I won last year, I had a lot of pressure on me and a lot of people coming after me to win.
But champions are able to rise when the pressure’s high.
“Sometimes I do good under pressure; other times, ehh …,” Shaver said.
Saturday’s performance definitely ranked under the first possibility.
Shaver took an early lead and only lengthened it over the course of her 11 dives, her championship status never seriously threatened.
Her total score of 404.2 gave Shaver her second straight District 2 Class 2A championship.
“I think I could’ve done better on a few of my dives, but I’m happy with my performance obviously,” Shaver said. “I was so nervous about one of the dives because sometimes I get a little mentally challenged. I’m so happy that I won.”
That one troublesome dive was Shaver’s lead-off dive.
“I put it at the very beginning because I was very nervous about it,” she said. “It’s always good at practice, but I mess it up once and it goes from there. But I did good. I’m happy.”
Shaver’s best dives came toward the end of the competition. Her ninth and 10th attempts both scored over 40 from the five judges. Her 42.5 on her 10th dive was the highest score of the session.
From here, Shaver advances to the PIAA state championship meet on Wednesday, March 13 at Bucknell’s Kinney Natatorium.
Along with Shaver, runner-up Victoria Watkins from West Scranton moves on as the top two qualify for states.
Watkins overcame a severe mistake midway through the competition.
Sitting second by a five points after five dives, Watkins had a miscue on her sixth attempt, ending up catching her foot on the board when coming down.
“It was pretty scary and I was completely shocked and terrified to get back up there,” Watkins said. “But after I did my reverse-and-a-half and I dropped it, it was a wave of relief. I recovered from it and after that, I had a better second half than my first half.”
Despite making up ground, Watkins still sat fourth with two dives remaining. Her final two dives scored 40.25 and 41.8 respectively, vaulting her into second place.
“My last two dives are my strongest two dives and I do put them last, especially my inward-one-and-a-half. That’s my strongest dive,” Watkins said. “I like putting it last because I know I can come back when I have that one to rely on.”
However, she didn’t realize how much those two paid off for her. She was in the middle of talking about her dives when her coach informed her the second-place finish was good enough to qualify for states.
“Really?” Watkins said with a growing smile when told she was going to states. “Wow!”
Meyers’ Rivera takes second
Jose Rivera is still pretty new to diving. At this time last year, he wasn’t involved in the event.
Now, he’s a district runner-up and on his way to states.
“Had great coaches, a lot of people pushing me to do great things,” he said. “It feels great. All my coaches were pushing me and pushing me and wishing really great things on me.”
Rivera was originally a swimmer before leaving the team for a brief period. He came back, he said, because of his relationship with the coaches and other swimmers. While he said he thought he was capable of qualifying for districts, states wasn’t in his immediate sights.
Rivera totaled 275.75 for his dives Saturday to qualify.
“I think I did good but toward the beginning, I was kind of nervous,” he said. “But around halfway and toward the end of the meet, I was more relaxed. When I’m relaxed, I don’t think about it as much and I just execute.”
He finished second to Abington Heights’ Carter Smith, who totaled 440.65.
“I feel I did pretty good. Probably could’ve done a little better, but I came and did my best so that’s all that matters,” Smith said. “This morning I came here, practiced my dives, worked on the ones I was having trouble with and gave it my best shot.”
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1. Jaelyn Shaver (DAL) 404.2; 2. Victoria Watkins (WS) 357.75; 3. Mia Reinert (DAL) 351.1; 4. Mary Strunk (HR) 311.15; 5. Kayla Taddei (WA) 299.1; 6. Dani McGrane (COU) 286.55.
1. Carter Smith (AH) 440.65; 2. Jose Rivera (MEY) 275.75; 3. Hunter Snay (TUN) 264.85.
Repeat after me
Repeat after me