Foley repeat diving champ

North Catholic sophomore easily wins WPIAL

March 1, 2021 Cranberry Local Sports

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Maggie Foley

WEXFORD — Maggie Foley wasn't surprised that Friday's WPIAL Class 2A girls diving championship came down to herself and Central Valley's Alexa Gonczi.

The latter had medaled twice before at WPIALs, including a runner-up finish in 2019, the same year she placed fourth in the state.

But Foley entered Friday's event as the defending district champion and figured to be tough to dethrone.

As it turned out, too tough.

The North Catholic sophomore won her second straight WPIAL crown with a score of 441.05 at North Allegheny High School. Gonczi was second at 422.80.

“She's a good diver,” Foley said of Gonczi. “We both had clean dives almost the entire meet.”

After five preliminary dives, Gonczi's 197.65 led the pack, with Foley just under five points behind.

Foley said, “I looked at the scoreboard and thought, 'Let's forget about the numbers right now, just go out and have fun.'”

The laid-back approach vaulted Foley to the lead during the three-dive semifinal round. She then turned in the best dive of the entire competition.

Holding a tenuous four-point lead, her first entry of the final round was an inward, 1 somersault dive in a tuck position.

She received 48.4 points for the effort. Gonczi's dive minutes later yielded a 36.55 and Foley had earned valuable breathing room.

“Inward dives are some of my favorite ones to do,” said Foley. “If I need a big score, if it really has to be sharp, I can normally pull it off with an inward dive.

“I practiced that dive just twice during warmups, focused on other dives the rest of the time,” added Foley. “I think not stressing about it too much helped me.”

She capped her first-place effort with a score of 48 on her final dive, the second-best score of the afternoon.

Foley, whose practice schedule has been sporadic this season due to COVID, did get a session in at North Allegheny on Wednesday.

“It went pretty well. All but two of the girls who competed today were there,” she said. “It was nice to see the girls, most of us have been quarantining because we didn't want to miss out on competing because of contact tracing.”

Foley said she felt pressure en route to both of her titles.

“But it was different,” she added. “Last year, there was pressure just because I was a freshman. This year, it came from wondering if I'd be able to dive and get practice time in.”

As a district champion, Foley will now prepare to compete in the state championship meet, scheduled March 13 at Cumberland Valley High School near Mechanicsburg.

In the Class 2A boys meet, Mars junior Kevin Butler earned a medal by placing seventh with a score of 285.75.

It was Butler's second trip to WPIALs and his first medal. He placed 13th last year.

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Derek Pyda

Derek Pyda

- Graduated from Connellsville High School in 1996
- Graduated from Clarion University in 2000 with a Bachelors in Communications
- Have also written for Clarion News (Clarion, PA) and the Herald-Standard (Uniontown, PA)
- Started at the Butler Eagle on April 2, 2002
- Interests include sports, history and geography