DIVING: Reinert, Lachase grab district gold

Joby Fawcett, The Citizens' Voice, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
·5 min read

Feb. 28—WILKES-BARRE — As divers gathered before the District 2 Championship event, it became clear that an athlete from Dallas would earn a gold medal.

The only thing left to determine was which one.

Mia Reinert, Brianne Dempsey, Allyson Gattuso and Vegan O'Donnell were the only competitors for the Class 2A girls meet. They each celebrated the others' dives and performed well throughout the 11-try competition at the Wyoming Valley Catholic Youth Center on Saturday afternoon. After an outstanding final round from all four, Reinert came away with the title with an overall score of 378.05 to also qualify for the champions-only PIAA Championship meet.

"It was kind of a unique experience, because the divers were my teammates," Reinert said. "I think it was kind of great to dive with each and every one of them. I am excited that I won, but I am also excited with the way they performed and we took top 4 and got a lot of points toward the team score."

Tunkhannock's Nicho LaChase repeated as the boys Class 2A champion after posting a score of 335.15. West Scranton junior Victoria Watkins, last year's Class 2A champion, moved up a class and earned the 3A crown, while Abington Heights' James Reese won the boys Class 3A gold.

Dallas' performance also staked the team to a 52-point lead when the swimmers hit the pool at Delaware Valley High School next weekend.

Reinert led from start to finish in the girls event. She began with a solid dive in the preliminaries before hitting a best score of 40.70 on her forward double somersault in the preliminary round of five dives. Reinert had the top score in three of the five rounds.

But, her Dallas teammates also had strong execution. Dempsey posted a 40.70 on her forward double somersault, while Gattuso scored a 38.50 on hers.

In the second round, Reinert started to pull away and had a sharp reverse dive in the pike position for a score of 36.55 and held a lead overall with a score of 267.05. Dempsey followed closely with 244.95, Gattuso was third with a 242.35 and O'Donnell fourth at 212.85.

All of the Dallas divers were at their best in the final round. On their third dives, Reinert, Dempsey, Gattuso and O'Donnell posted their top scores. Dempsey had a 42.90 on her inward 1 1/2 somersault in the tuck position, O'Donnell had a 37.80 on a back 1 1/2 somersault one-half twist and Gattuso hit a 34.20 on her back somersault half twist, while Reinert wrapped up the title with a 40.95 on a reverse 1 1/2 somersault in the tuck position.

"I think we do that on purpose," Reinert said. "When we are making our lists, the first thing I ask them is what do they want the last dive to be and it is the grand finale. We were all super happy for each other."

LaChase defended his title with a total score of 335.15 to hold off Elk Lake's Zachary Shields, who posted a 311.75.

"I am pretty happy," LaChase said. "It was a pretty good meet."

LaChase hit his best score on his final dive of the competition. His forward double somersault in the tuck position scored a 37.40. He also hit a 34.65 on a back 1 1/2 somersault one-half twist among his final three dives.

"I think I did a few dives really well and some were iffy," LaChase said. "I think the best dive I did was that back dive. I am looking forward to going back to the states."

Watkins used a combination of athleticism and grace to earn a second straight gold medal.

She took command of the competition with back-to-back big scores and finished the first round with a 42.55 on a forward double somersault in the pike position with a degree of difficulty of 2.3. Remaining steady, Watkins carded another score better than 40 on a back 1 1/2 somersault one-half twist and finished with her best execution on an inward 1 1/2 somersault in the pike position that scored a 45.10 and pushed her total score to a personal-best 413.05.

Tunkhannock's Ana Jerome finished second with a score of 323.80.

"To beat my record was great, especially with the season we have had so far," Watkins said. "That was my goal. That is my favorite dive and that is my strongest dive, so that is why we put it last."

Reese closed out the preliminary round with a 40.70 for his inward 1 1/2 somersault in the pike position that gave him the overall lead. Then, in the final round, he scored a 39.90 for a reverse 1 1/2 somersault in the tuck position and closed out with a 40.25 on a forward double somersault in the pike position to clinch the gold with a total of 354.30.

Delaware Valley's Zachary Madewell finished second with a score of 328.35.

"I am really happy that I got that," Reese said. "He was right on my heels."

Last year's District 2 Class 3A champion Jacob Wenzel withdrew with an injury prior to the competition.