South Fayette's Zombek, Mohawk's Stelter defend WPIAL diving titles
Prior to his final dive, South Fayette senior Stephen Zombek stepped onto the diving board, looked to the crowd and flashed a smile in the direction of his parents and girlfriend. He knew he had the WPIAL Class AA boys diving title in the bag.
“I knew going into my last dive that I already had the winning score. I just needed to complete any dive and I'd win,” Zombek said. “It was really cool for me to just nod to them and let them know I have it.”
Zombek, who also won last season's WPIAL championship, captured this season's title at South Park High School with a score of 423.55.
He was able to distance himself from second-place finisher Micah Ringer, a senior from Beaver, with a strong finish.
“My first five dives, I was really nervous,” Zombek said. “But then I started to loosen up and really do well on my last six. I think it went better then most of my meets this season.”
Ringer, who scored 372.65, was runner-up for the second consecutive season.
“This was my all-time high score for an 11-dive panel,” Ringer said. “I always want to win. That part is tough. But I felt I gave my best performance out there.”
South Fayette senior Evan Zombek, Stephen's twin brother, was third (345.00).
History also repeated itself in the girls competition, where Mohawk senior McKenzie Stelter won her second straight WPIAL Class AA championship. Stelter built an early lead thanks to a flurry of strong dives.
“About halfway through I knew I had a good shot to win,” Stelter said. “After the first five dives I noticed I had about a 20-point spread, and I began to settle in more.”
Stelter earned a score of 459.15, improving on her 2013 winning mark of 419.85.
“I feel like I did great out there. This is actually my career-high score,” she said.
“I thought I really did great on my reverse one-and-a-half. That helped me win. But I thought I could have done better on my twisters early on.”
Mars freshman Taylor Hockenberry seized second place with a score of 431.35.
“I was a little nervous at first,” Hockenberry said. “But after a little bit of time, I got more comfortable up there and realized that this is what I have been getting ready for.”
The top nine finishers advanced to the PIAA championship meet March 14-15 at Bucknell University's Kinney Natatorium.
Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.