Staff Photo: Jason Braverman
Parkview's Sean Piner dives during the Class AAAAA state finals competition at Georgia Tech. Piner finished in second place.
ATLANTA — Gwinnett County representatives made up 61 percent of the participants in the Class AAAAA State Diving Championships on Saturday, the second highest percentage since 1999 and the highest in six years.
So, it should come as no surprise that local divers stood out during Saturday’s competition at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center.
On the boys side, Parkview’s Sean Piner led a group of seven top-10 placers from Gwinnnett by finishing as state runner-up.
2011 Class AAAAA State Diving
at Georgia Tech Aquatic Center
1. Jack Nyquist, Alpharetta 589.85
2. Sean Piner, Parkview 566.95
3. David Sanchez, Walton 470.25
4. Crawford Berry, Alpharetta 385.15
5. Patrick Clayton, Collins Hill 369.40
6. John Marsh, Peachtree Ridge 361.50
7. Michael Russell, Peachtree Ridge 343.05
8. Hunter Ferrer, Dacula 337.95
9. Stephen Jou, Brookwood 317.60
10. Josh Marsh, Peachtree Ridge 315.65
11. Rafael Ramirez, Meadowcreek 308.90
12. Andrew Dunn, Duluth 295.55
13. Chris Yenney, Parkview 290.80
14. Ben Warren, Parkview 253.55
1. Alex Hart, Kennesaw Mtn., 463.75
2. Elizabeth Kirkland, Colquitt Co. 449.50
3. Darcie O’Brien, Grayson 434.20
4. Tabitha Banks, Parkview 425.00
5. Ashley Roberson, Tift Co. 403.15
6. Chloe Cotter, Brookwood 393.40
7. Erin O’Leary, Hillgrove 377.05
8. Haley Goodman, Colquitt Co. 360.10
9. Emily Yoder, Peachtree Ridge, 350.50
10. Emma Weisel, Brookwood 342.75
11. Brittany Swanson, Dacula 332.00
12. Nicole Hermansen, Collins Hill 327.90
14. Kelsey Carniglia, Duluth, 310.55
15. Katie Jansen, Mountain View, 300.80
Meanwhile, Darcie O’Brien became the highest state placer from Grayson by grabbing third place in the girls competition and joining four other area divers in the top 10.
“It’s awesome,” O’Brien said. “It’s nice diving with basically your family — people you practice with every day. Everyone had a great meet.”
It might be easy to assume Piner was frustrated after finishing second to Alpharetta’s Jack Nyquist for the second straight season. However, the junior was hardly disappointed by his 11-dive total of 566.95, which trailed only Nyquist’s total of 589.85.
It not only bettered his performance at the Gwinnett County Championships last month by 34 points, it also broke the county record of 537 set in 2008 by Mill Creek’s Cameron Cowgill.
“Last year (at the state meet), I was 140 points lower than this year,” Piner said. “I’m very proud of that. Hopefully, I can win next year. My last practice was pretty good, and the two weeks between county and state gave me a lot of time to get my dives better.”
Piner led a Gwinnett domination of the 15-diver meet as local divers held seven of the top 10 spots in the standings and 11 of the top 15.
He was also one of three Parkview divers to gain team points for the Panthers in the swimming competition, with Chris Yenney taking 13th and Ben Warren finishing just behind him in 14th.
Peachtree Ridge also got a boost from a trio of divers, all of which finished in the top 10, with John Marsh taking sixth, followed closely by Michael Russell in seventh and Josh Marsh in 10th.
Collins Hill’s Patrick Clayton was the county’s second-highest finishing representative at fifth, while Hunter Ferrer of Dacula (eighth) and Stephen Jou of Brookwood (ninth) also cracked the top 10.
In the girls meet, O’Brien hovered in fourth place most of the meet, but strong dives on her final two attempts — both of which bettered 48 points — vaulted her past Parkview’s Tabitha Banks and into third with a final score of 434.20 points, just over nine points better than Banks’ mark of 425.00.
“I’ve got to give credit to my coach, Bettie Hudson,” O’Brien said. “I talked to her after every dive, and she told me (in the later rounds), ‘You really have to concentrate from here on out.’”
The solid finishes by O’Brien and Banks led another strong Gwinnett contingent in the top 10, with Chloe Cotter of Brookwood taking sixth, Emily Yoder of Peachtree Ridge finishing ninth and Brookwood’s Emma Weisel placing 10th.