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PHS girls divers finish 1-2-3

Senior Lexi Lehman followed up her win in the East Penn Conference midseason meet with a gold medal at the EPC Championships last weekend at Parkland High School.

The top three spots were captured by Parkland divers, with Alexa Brinker finishing second and Kate Gottwald coming in third.

On their initial dives, Brinker edged out Lehman with a 34.40 compared to a 34.00 for the defending champion.

Lehman moved ahead on her second dive with a 46.00 and didn’t look back from there. For the first eight rounds, the biggest battle was for second place, between Brinker and Easton’s Olivia Jacobsen.

The two battled while Gottwald slowly closed the gap between her and the top three divers and eventually moved herself ahead of Jacobsen when she nailed her ninth-round dive with a score of 42.90.

Everyone held their positions over the last two rounds, with Jacobsen finishing fourth.

“Our girls remained focused and just concentrated on what they needed to do to win the meet and it worked out well,” said Parkland head coach Cary Lehman. “It’s always nice when you can get three divers to medal and all three of them worked very hard to get there, not just today, but over their time at Parkland.”

Cora Hochstetter finished eighth in the event for Parkland to give them four finishers in the top eight spots. All four of the Parkland divers are seniors.

At the midseason EPC meet last month, Lehman took the top spot there as well, with Gottwald taking second just ahead of Brinker.

The three divers have finished in the top four in the EPC in each of the past three seasons and have been in the top three each of the past two seasons, with Brinker taking gold at last year’s event.

“It’s great to win this event,” said Lexi Lehman. “We have a lot of competition among our divers at Parkland and there are a lot of good divers from other schools, too. That competition really pushes you and makes you want to keep working to get better.”

Next up for the team is the District 11 Championship, which will be held February 22 at Emmaus High School. Lehman is the defending champion and won the event in 2017 with Brinker finishing second in each of those seasons.

In 2018, Brinker took the top spot with Lehman coming in second. Gottwald finished in third in 2017 and 2019 and fourth in 2018.

One of the keys to Lehman’s success could be her carefree approach to the sport. Between dives she can usually be found listening to music and even dancing on the pool deck.

As for districts, Lehman has said that she doesn’t even think about them until a day before the event and prefers to just work on her dives like she would at any other point in the season.

“I don’t really let myself stress over it,” said Lehman. “It’s not that I don’t care, but I just don’t get caught up in it.

“All I can do is work on my dives and keep working to get better each time.”

“It’s somewhat easier,” said coach Lehman, “because they’ve all been through it a few times now, so they know what to expect and they have their way of going about preparing.

“With younger kids there’s more work to do, but with this group, they kind of take care of things themselves and just take any input they can get. They’ve got a great competition going that’s always friendly.”

PRESS PHOTO BY CHUCK HIXSONParkland girls divers finished in the top three places at Saturday's EPC Championships. The top four finishers were (left to right) Easton's Olivia Jacobsen (fourth place), Parkland's Alexa Brinker (second place), Lexi Lehman (first place) and Kate Gottwald (third place).