CV’s Lohman captures second straight diving championship

Published Feb 26, 2013 at 2:41 pm (Updated Feb 26, 2013 at 2:41 pm)

What’s the difference between a WPIAL diving champion at the Class AA level and the Class AAA division? Nothing if that winner is Maria Lohman.

In capturing her second consecutive championship, the Chartiers Valley sophomore became the first diver in WPIAL history to win titles in the two categories. Lohman won the banner last year when the Colts competed in Class AA. Though CV moved up to Class AAA this season, the Scott Township resident retained her crown.

And, what was the difference in victory? One dive.

See, Lohman won the 2012 title going away, scoring 470.95 points for a 56.20 victory. Yet, on Feb. 23 at the North Allegheny High School pool, Lohman needed about that many points, 57 to be exact on her final dive, to secure the triumph.

And, Lohman did so as she racked up a 467.30 total to edge Ashley Sams. The Bethel Park senior finished second with a 463.05 score.

“This was way different than last year,” said the 15-year-old daughter of Lisa and John Lohman. “The competition was much better. More challenging.”

As stressful as this year’s finals were, Sams added levity to the proceedings. See, while Sams and Lohman are scholastic foes, they are both teammates at the amateur level. Both dive competitively for the Pitt Aquatic Club, coached by Julian and Doe Krug.

“On one hand, it’s good to dive against Ashley because she keeps me on my toes,” said Lohman, who has been diving since she was 9 years old. “On the other hand, Ashley keeps me calm and relaxed. Since we are good friends, we’re able to joke around and that makes it easier to compete without a lot of added stress.”

When Lohman dives, the pressure is on the competition. Not only is she a two-time district champion, she’s also the 2012 PIAA runner-up. Plus, she is a member of the USA Diving Junior Elite Performance Squad, which consists of the top 55 boys and girls in the country hoping to qualify for the 2016 and 2020 Olympics.

The lone Pittsburgh member, Lohman earned her spot by finishing among the top divers on the platform as well as 1- and 3-meter boards during previous Junior National Championship competitions. Additionally, she has trained at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

Yet, after finishing first in the district, Lohman only has her sights set on the state championships set for March 14 at Bucknell University in Lewisburg.

In 2012, Lohman finished as the PIAA runner-up to Trinity’s Ashley Buchter. Buchter set a state record with her 482.80 score. Lohman racked up 453.25 points for second.

“My goal is to win states and score a personal record,” said Lohman. “There will be time enough to break the state record.”

Time and experience factored into Lohman’s favor during the WPIAL meet and should aid her at the Kinney Natatorium in two weeks.

“Having been there before helped,” she said. “I know what to expect and I know what to do.”

Lohman and Sams weren’t the only divers doing well during the WPIAL competition.

At the Class AAA level, freshman Brionna Litwin of Bethel Park finished eighth overall in the girls’ division with 322.80 points.

In the boys’ competition, Cody Pyles from Peters Township secured sixth place with a 402.85 score while Mt. Lebanon’s Cary Johns placed eighth with a 327.15 total.

Pine-Richland’s Dominic Giordano captured the Class AAA crown for the second year in a row. The senior, who will dive at Florida State, did so in record fashion. He shattered his own record of 544.50, set in 2012, with a 610 score.

In the boys’ Class AA competition, Stephen Zombek rolled up 353.25 points and edged Beaver’s Micah Ringer (342.65) for the gold medal. A runner-up last year by the narrowest of margins (0.15 points), Zombek becomes the first diving champion in South Fayette history.

Zombek’s teammate, Grace Klimek, claimed the bronze medal in the girls’ Class AA division. She scored 394.65 to finish behind champion McKenzie Stelter of Mohawk (419.85) and Moon’s Heather Lonkert (417.65).

NOTE: The WPIAL swimming championships will be held Feb. 28 and March 1 at the University of Pittsburgh’s Trees Pool.

Class AA competition begins at 10 a.m. each day with timed finals while Class AAA action commences at 3 p.m.

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