Staff Photo: John Bohn AnnaCate Miller of Peachtree Ridge, executes a dive while competing in the Gwinnett County girls diving championships held Wednesday at Mountain Park Aquatic Center. Miller finished in eighth place.
STONE MOUNTAIN -- Runner-up for the last two years, Parkview's Tabitha Banks won the Gwinnett County girls championship before even stepping to the board for her 11th dive Wednesday at Mountain Park Aquatic Center.
She still ripped it.
Banks scored 44 points on her final effort to finish with 440.15. The total was just shy of her county-meet record breaking 443.25 points last year, but good for a title instead of second.
"It's definitely a drive (to win)," Banks said. "It gives you motivation. You know what you need to work on.
"But the biggest competitor I have is always myself. You cannot measure yourself against other people because if you have the meet of your life, it's your best meet."
Banks is more concerned with the point total than winning.
"Everyone being enjoys being at the top," the senior said.
"You can't measure how you do based on place. I had the meet of my life the past two years. Obviously this year didn't go as well as I would have liked, but having somebody right there with you to compete against definitely pushes you to train harder and to keep your mind in the meet. Because you know every dive counts every year."
This year it was Brookwood senior Emma Weisel battling it out with Banks.
Weisel was fourth at county last year, just six months after picking up the sport. A competitive gymnast for eight years, injuries made Weisel realize she wasn't going to be able to continue the sport she'd devoted her teens to into college.
Friends with Darcie O'Brien, last year's county champ who also started as a gymnast, Weisel decided to try diving.
"I fell in love with it," Weisel said. "Since then I've just been working really hard. I'd love to dive in college."
Going head-to-head with Banks has been a pleasure for Weisel.
"Tabitha and I are really good friends," Weisel said. "She pushes me more than anything. I strive to be at her level and I'm getting there closer and closer every day. It's been great. I was really close to her at Gwinnett Invite. She encourages me and I encourage her. It's good to have that competition. It drives me more."
Like Banks, Weisel saw room for improvement Wednesday.
"I had some really good dives that I was really proud of," she said.
"Then I had some, the ones where you're like, 'Ah, man!' in the middle of it.
"But overall it was pretty good. It wasn't as stressful as the Gwinnett Invite a couple weeks ago because I had broken the school record then. This one, I just had fun with it."
Weisel set a new Brookwood record with 436.35 points at that meet. So her runner-up finish with 395.60 points at county was well off that pace.
Both divers have two weeks before the state meet.
"Obviously not everything went as well as I would have liked, but I'm a perfectionist and I think every athlete wishes that some part of their performance would have gone better," Banks said. "But I know what I need to work on."
Duluth's Kelsey Carniglia was third with 343.05 points, Nicole Hermansen of Collins Hill grabbed fourth with her final effort to finish (317.50) and Brookwood's Marena Kardatzke rounded out the top five (315.50).