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Penn-Trafford diver almost always knows the answer

| Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Penn-Trafford's Paul Stock dives during the Westmoreland County Coaches Association Swimming and Diving Championships on February 1, 2013 at Derry Area High School in Derry Township. Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review

Pop quiz: Who was Penn-Trafford's top finisher at last year's WPIAL Class AAA boys diving championship?

Hint: The same diver who earlier this week topped the 200-point plateau for the first time this season.

Give up? It's Penn-Trafford senior Paul Stock.

Stock is a proud member of the school's quiz team. But he also has carved out quite the high school diving career.

A quiz-master and a quality high school diver? To hear Stock tell it, the two aren't as different as you might think.

“It's kind of a saying in the sport: ‘Diving is 90 mental and 10 physical,' ” Stock said.

“Because whenever you're going to try a new dive, it can be intimidating because you can try it and smack and it'll hurt. And you kind of have to have the mental fortitude to push through and tell yourself you can do it and trust it.”

Thursday was a good example of Stock's versatility.

Early in the day, he helped the Penn-Trafford quiz team take first place at the Mt. Pleasant Area Quiz League.

By evening, he was the top diver in a meet against Latrobe, surpassing 200 points (209) for the second time in his career.

“He's always serious about everything he does,” diving coach Mark Martini said.

“He's a very serious person and was very quiet when he was younger. This year he's a lot more open than ever. But he's a steady worker who succeeds, usually, at what he does. Very intelligent.

“He's never complained one time in four years.”

On Friday at Derry, Stock placed second at the Westmoreland County Coaches' Association championships with a score of 298.35, behind Franklin Regional's Andrew Sederholm (346.65).

Three years earlier, the WCCA meet was where Stock first got his big break as a diver.

The event scores off 11 dives, and to that point Stock had only competed in six-dive meets. But at the 2010 WCCA event, Stock was a last-minute fill-in for a teammate who could not participate.

“We kind of scrambled and threw him into the mix, not expecting much,” Martini said.

“But he ended up diving really well, finishing seventh in the county. He was nervous going into it, but that was the best he'd ever dove (to that point).”

“I was lucky just to be able to participate,” Stock said. “I remember that kind of being a big moment of my freshman year, definitely.”

Stock's desire to pursue diving came when he heard about Samantha Pickens, who graduated from Franklin Regional as a four-time PIAA and WPIAL champion and went on to compete at the University of Arizona.

Stock and his family asked Pickens and her family for advice, which led Stock to the renowned Pitt Aquatic Club.

“He kind of just came out of nowhere,” Martini said.

“We just opened the season, and I didn't know too much about him. He shows up one day, a skinny little kid — and he wasn't too bad. And when he'd get thrown into more and more competitive situations, he'd really step up.”

Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.

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