CV’s Lohman wins state diving title

Published Mar 19, 2013 at 2:44 pm (Updated Mar 19, 2013 at 2:44 pm)

After the preliminary round of diving in the PIAA Class AAA championships, Maria Lohman found herself in an unfamiliar position. The two-time WPIAL champion had settled into sixth place. However, the position did not despond the Chartiers Valley sophomore. Rather, it inspired her.

“Actually, I was glad,” said the 15-year diver. “It forced me to focus and make sure I did all my dives well.”

Lohman dove better than well. After the semifinals, she had moved into medal contention, third place to be exact, before she stormed to victory in finals. Lohman nailed her final three dives and defeated North Penn freshman Marie Yacopino, 446.20 to 443.35.

“I’m really excited,” said Lohman of the triumph. “I’m super happy.”

The Scott Township resident is delighted that she saved the best for last. She stacked her top dives at the end of the competition.

“All the dives in the end helped me. You have a certain amount of voluntary dives, and I used the ones with the highest degree of difficulty for the end. I did know that I needed a certain amount of points and those helped me a lot.”

After completing an inward one-and-one-half somersault pike and a front, full-twisting one-and-one half, Lohman nailed her back, one-and-one-half dive that featured one-and-one half twists.

“After going into the water, I knew I performed it well,” Lohman said of the dive, which clinched the gold medal. “I was just excited, but not until it was finally over did I know that I had won.”

Because she had competed in last year’s championships, Lohman knew the routine. The 2012 Class AA runner-up had 11 dives to perform.

“I knew what to expect. It was less stressful this year, but still nerve-racking because you knew that people were counting on you and I wanted to be good for all of them. In general, there’s a lot of pressure on you.”

Part of the pressure comes from the fact the Lohman name is well known in diving circles. In fact, Lohman’s cousin, Amanda, won WPIAL titles before excelling at Michigan.

Plus, Lohman competes for the Pitt Aquatics Club, under the watchful eye of Julian and Doe Krug. The daughter of Lisa and John Lohman is also 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.

Nevertheless, jitters plagued Lohman early in the state competition.

“In the beginning of the meet, I was nervous,” she said. “The gap between the first six divers was so small. I knew in order to finish first, I needed to do my dives.”

After completing a front, two-and-one half pike, things improved for Lohman. The competition though was nevertheless fierce, a step up in class for sure.

“My school moved up to AAA but the girl from last year was still in AA,” Lohman said. “This year was definitely competitive. The field was a lot tougher. No one missed a dive. But that’s what you want. You want it to be a good meet.”

For Lohman the good meets keep coming. She will compete this week in the Eastern Nationals in Louisiana.

“It will be fun. I like to travel,” Lohman said, “and see different parts of the country. It’s good experience to go places.”

Before too long, she hopes to compete internationally. That will be a thrill says Lohman because she has never been out of the country. Some day, too, she plans to participate in the Olympics. Of that long-term goal, she says “that hasn’t changed. But,” she added, “I am taking it one day at a time.”

She just wants to relish her state title, one of three for her high school as swimmer Drew Damich won two gold medals for the 200- and 500-yard freestyle races.

“Winning states is definitely a big deal to me. It’s a huge honor. Plus, our school has three state titles. That’s a big deal. I’m excited about that.”

While happy for her teammate, Lohman gets no thrill out of swimming. Once this season, in an effort to help the club, she participated on two free relays and swam the 50 free. “That was a lot of swimming for me. No, I did not enjoy it. Swimming is not my thing.”

Diving definitely is and the activity she says has prepared her for many of life’s challenges. The mental aspect of the sport is the primary plus. “And, you learn to be patient, particularly when you are learning a new dive,” Lohman said. “When things are not going your way, you get over it. You can’t let it phase you. Learning that helps you in life’s situations.”

While Lohman was the lone state diving champion, three other area divers performed well in the PIAA championships. Ashley Sams of Bethel Park closed out her scholastic career with a sixth-place medal in the Class AAA competition.

South Fayette’s Gracie Klimek and Stephen Zombeck brought home medals as well. Klimek secured seventh in the Class AA competition while Zombeck, the WPIAL champion, finished 13th.

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