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McCourt earns diving gold

Brendan McCourt won the District 11 Diving Championship for the second time in two years this past weekend. While he was happy about the win and a second gold medal, he readily admits that it wasn’t his best performance and wasn’t as satisfying as his first taste of gold.

“I came in hoping to beat my personal best or at least beat my score from last year in districts, but I didn’t even do that,” lamented McCourt, who scored a 516.45 this year after notching a 520.80 last year as a sophomore. His personal best – and the school record – for an 11-dive performance is a 551.

“I need to work on some of my elective dives between now and states and I’m hoping to add another dive, a one-and-a-half twist, if I can get that down between now and states,” he said.

He will compete at states on Saturday, March 16 at Bucknell University.

Coming into districts last season, McCourt was driven by some controversy that cost him the top spot in the EPC Diving Championship. After a complaint was lodged by the Parkland coach, it was determined that McCourt had done a dive out of order and he was given a failed dive that cost him 52 points and dropped him down to third. He vowed at the time that the controversy would drive him in both the upcoming meet against Parkland and in districts. McCourt went on to win diving in both of those meets.

In his first trip to states last year, McCourt placed seventh in the 3A classification. As with most divers and swimmers, the first trip to states is always the toughest, because you never can be sure what to expect and the whole experience can be a little overwhelming. This time, he’s more prepared, knows exactly what to expect and has some good scouting reports on the competition.

“I know what the competition is going to be like this year. I know a lot of the other divers from USA Diving and the regional meets and other events, so I have a pretty good idea of what they can do,” said McCourt. “I’m optimistic that I can do better than last season and I’m really looking forward to competing at that level again.”

McCourt’s first-place finish gives his team added points heading into this weekend’s district swimming championships, which take place Friday and Saturday at Parkland High School.

Unfortunately for Emmaus, Parkland divers finished in second, third and fourth place behind McCourt, giving the Trojans more points than Emmaus coming into the swimming portion of districts. On the bright side, in many years, Emmaus didn’t have diving points to go toward its district score and the Hornets were still able to come away with district championships.

Parkland’s Lexi Lehman won the girls 3A diving title with a score of 479.75, she was followed by teammates Alexa Brinker (453.15) and Kate Gottwald (439.5) in second and third place, respectively. In Class 2A, Central Catholic’s Jamilie Atiyeh (419.50) and Saucon Valley’s Noah Mauro (421.85) earned district titles Saturday.

Emmaus’ Kyle Ryan (370.35) finished seventh, Drew Stenger (367.20) finished eighth and James Mont (328.70) finished ninth in the district meet. On the girls side, Morgan Belisle finished 11th with a score of 290.00.

“I’m happy that I was able to contribute some points for the team,” said McCourt. “The swimmers on both the boys and girls sides are really good and they work really hard, so I know they’ll be ready. Like always, they have their work cut out for them, but they can handle it.”

The Emmaus boys have won 11 straight District 11 Swimming and Diving Championships and 13 of the last 14 team titles. The girls last district team title came in 2008, but they bested Parkland to win the EPC championship for the second time in three seasons and are hoping this could be the year that they return to the top of the district rankings.

PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZBrendan McCourt won his second straight District 11 diving championship Saturday.