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Divers kicking off busy stretch

The ultimate goal for local divers is a good performance at the Feb. 10 state meet at Marist, though they will pack in two important meets in the next five days.

Up first is today's Gwinnett Invitational, an eight-year-old event that attracts the county's top divers as well as some other top performers from metro Atlanta.

Four days later, the Gwinnett County Diving Championships will be held at Mountain Park to crown the county's top divers.

Defending county champion Sara Halliburton of Duluth is in the 60-diver field for today's competition, as are top local girls like Parkview's Tabitha Banks, Grayson's Darcie O'Brien, Wesleyan's Alexandra Hernandez, Peachtree Ridge's Emily Yoder, Dacula's Brittany Swanson, Greater Atlanta Christian's Caroline Bond and Brookwood's Chloe Cotter and Jessica Tailhardat.

The boys competitors feature Wesleyan's Zach Hernandez and Wes Ayres, Mill Creek's Seth Burgmeier, Brookwood's Garrett Boss, Dacula's Hunter Ferrer and Brookwood's Taylor Brown. County favorite Sean Piner of Parkview isn't competing this weekend, but he is entered in Wednesday's county championships.

"It's an 11-dive meet so it gets the divers ready for the county and state events," Gwinnett County Public Schools diving coach Bettie Hudson said. "I think it's going to be a very close meet. I know of at least seven people going for All-American (scores), so it's going to be competitive."

Halliburton and Piner, the county runner-up last year, are considered the favorites at next week's county championships, a GCPS competition that doesn't permit private school divers.