Derry divers prepare for WPIAL meet

| Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Three Derry divers have turned their attention to the WPIAL Class AA championships after winning medals at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association meet on Feb. 1 at Derry.

Freshman Morgan Elrick (333.10 points) and senior Rachel Trice (312.25) swept the top two places in girls competition.

Among boys, senior Ben Hoyman tied for fifth with 242.90 points.

All three have qualified for the WPIAL championships, to be held on Feb. 22 at South Park.

“I am working on fine tuning their dives and (working) on the ones they have trouble with,” Derry diving coach Trish Brownlee said. “We are working on take-offs, height and entries.

“Some want to learn a new dive to boost their degree of difficulty. We will use the new dives in the two (remaining) meets of the (regular) season.”

Elrick, Trice and Hoyman agreed the county meet was extremely helpful in preparing them for the WPIAL championships.

“We did 11 dives, the same number we'll do at WPIALs,” Hoyman said. “In a dual meet, we do only six.”

“(It's) a great practice meet for WPIALs,” Brownlee agreed.

Trice hopes she has better luck than she did three years ago, when a concussion forced her to miss the WPIAL championship.

“I didn't dive as a sophomore or junior,” she said. “I really wanted to come back this year so I could compete at WPIALs.”

“I am very proud of (Trice) being able to gain her confidence and dive again,” Brownlee said.

A team leader, Hoyman has made great strides in the three years he has qualified for the WPIAL championship, Brownlee said.

“He encourages his teammates and has a great sense of humor (that) makes everyone laugh on a bad day,” she said. “He (has) improved his dive list.”

Elrick looks forward to competing at the WPIAL championship for the first time.

“(Elrick) is building up her confidence and it is paying off,” Brownlee said. “I look for her to do well.”

Elrick was nervous at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association meet.

“I'm getting used to an 11-dive list,” she said.

Elrick and Trice helped lead the Derry girls swimming team to the Class AA title at the county championships, where 17 schools, including six in diving, competed.

“Morgan and Rachel got us off to a strong start,” Derry swimming coach Jeff Kelly said.

Sophomore Lauren Henderson also has qualified for the WPIAL championship.

With a school allowed only two entries, Henderson did not compete at the county championship.

Brownlee said she and Henderson gave a pep talk to competitors before the meet.

In boys competition, Latrobe sophomore Taylor Barta overcame a broken hand to finish third at the WCCA meet.

“It's incredible he was able to dive,” Latrobe diving coach Ben Wells said.

“It doesn't hurt as much as it did, but I can't grab my legs as tight as usual,” said Barta, who wore a waterproof cast.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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