One more round
JACKSON TWP — Seneca Valley’s top four boys divers recently proved they belong in the top tier amongst WPIAL competition.
They will now see where they stack up against the best divers in the state.
Isaiah Clerkley, Jeremiah Laslavic, Sam Skeen and Sam Hersick placed second through fifth, respectively, at last month's Class 3A district meet and will each take to the board Wednesday at the PIAA event at Bucknell University.
"It's awesome we were all able to qualify," said Hersick. "As teammates, we support each other and we're all the reason we got there."
Clerkley was one of six Raiders to qualify for the district meet last year, but a school cannot have more than four actually compete and he was left out.
"I've been able to get a lot more height with my dives this year and that makes it easier to increase the degree of difficulty," said Clerkley, a sophomore who aims to medal at states by placing in the top eight.
Clerkley trains as a gymnast at his mother's gym, Western PA Gymnastics Club in Freedom. She urged him to try diving.
"I was already used to flipping and twisting and she figured I could be a good diver as well," he said.
After just two meets, Laslavic broke his right foot in practice this season.
"I was afraid it was going to take up to eight weeks to heal, but I made it back for the last regular season meet against Butler and picked up right where I left off," Laslavic said. "Then I had almost two weeks of practice before WPIALs.
"I definitely thought about getting to states and am just focused on getting through all my dives."
Skeen's score of 361.95 at districts is made even more impressive when his failed dive is factored in.
It came in his ninth dive, the first of the final round.
"I was planning on doing a front 1½ somersault with a full twist," Skeen said. "I messed it up in warmups and that got in my head.
A failed dive earns zero points, but Skeen, a senior, was able to overcome it.
"I was discouraged right when it happened, but realized I was still in a medal position because my other dives had been really good," Skeen said. "My last two dives were solid.
"I'm so happy about getting to states. I never thought I'd make it."
Hersick did not begin diving until his freshman year in 2019-20 and never took part in a meet that season due to injury. He placed 11th in the WPIAL last year and made the necessary improvements this season.
"I knew I had to work on my back dives and twisters and I did that," he said. "I have a nice arsenal of dives now."
SV will be represented by five WPIAL champions in six swimming events. Haihan Xu won the 200-yard individual medley and breaststroke, Kevin Donaldson won the 200 freestyle and Daniel Simoes the 100 freestyle.
The Raiders' 200 freestyle relay team of Simoes, Gavin Blazer, Zach Lozowski and Xu and the 400 freestyle relay quartet of Donaldson, Blazer, Lozowski and Simoes also placed first at WPIALs.
SV senior Ria Dietz will close her high school career with her third appearance at states. She placed 13th in the backstroke at Bucknell last year and will swim it again along with the butterfly.
She recently finished runner-up in the latter at WPIALs with a time of 56.68.
"I've never swam the butterfly at the state meet and am excited for the opportunity," said Dietz. "I've never been faster than 30 seconds in the last 50 yards and have been working on my closing speed."
The Raiders will be represented in the girls diving competition by Ashley Felitsky, who placed third in the WPIAL.
Following are the Seneca Valley swimmers and divers who have qualified for the PIAA Class 3A championship meet.
200 medley relay: Seneca Valley (Ria Dietz, Alissa Wilson, Abby Perry, Lena Rothrock) 1:48.18
1-meter diving: Ashley Felitsky (SV) 405.80
100 butterfly: Ria Dietz (SV) 56.68; Abby Perry (SV) 57.83
200 freestyle relay: Seneca Valley (Ria Dietz, Lena Rothrock, Claire Riehl, Abby Perry) 1:40.08
100 backstroke: Ria Dietz (SV) 57.18
200 medley relay: Seneca Valley (Kevin Donaldson, Haihan Xu, Gavin Blazer, Zach Lozowski) 1:34.03
200 freestyle: Kevin Donaldson (SV) 1:40.22
200 individual medley: Haihan Xu (SV) 1:50.96; Daniel Simoes (SV) 1:51.09; Zach Lozowski (SV) 1:57.41
1-meter diving: Isaiah Clerkley (SV) 418.20; Jeremiah Laslavic (SV) 394.40; Sam Skeen (SV) 361.95; Sam Hersick (SV) 339.70
100 butterfly: Gavin Blazer (SV) 51.49
100 freestyle: Daniel Simoes (SV) 45.30; Kevin Donaldson (SV) 45.76
200 freestyle relay: Seneca Valley (Daniel Simoes, Gavin Blazer, Zach Lozowski, Haihan Xu) 1:24.35
100 backstroke: Connor Seeley (SV) 52.70
100 breaststroke: Haihan Xu (SV) 55.12
400 freestyle relay: Seneca Valley (Kevin Donaldson, Gavin Blazer, Zach Lozowski, Daniel Simoes) 3:05.26