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Parkview's Piner outdives youth movement for third county title

Photo: Andrew McMurtrie Stephen Jou of Brookwood High School, executes a dive while competing in the Gwinnett County boys diving championships held Saturday at Mountain Park Aquatic Center.

Photo: Andrew McMurtrie Stephen Jou of Brookwood High School, executes a dive while competing in the Gwinnett County boys diving championships held Saturday at Mountain Park Aquatic Center.

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Photo: Andrew McMurtrie Brendan Eckard of Duluth High School, executes a dive while competing in the Gwinnett County boys diving championships held Saturday at Mountain Park Aquatic Center.

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Photo: Andrew McMurtrie Paul McGuffin of Duluth High School, executes a dive while competing in the Gwinnett County boys diving championships held Saturday at Mountain Park Aquatic Center.

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Photo: Andrew McMurtrie Travis Button of Archer High School executes a dive while competing in the Gwinnett County boys diving championships held Saturday at Mountain Park Aquatic Center.

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Photo: Andrew McMurtrie Sean Piner of Parkview High School, executes a dive while competing in the Gwinnett County boys diving championships held Saturday at Mountain Park Aquatic Center.

STONE MOUNTAIN -- If there were any doubts about the present state of high school boys diving in Gwinnett County, Sean Piner put them to rest early in the 2012 Gwinnett County Championships on Saturday at Mountain Park Aquatic Center.

The Parkview senior was awarded a perfect 10 as part of an overall score of 40.0 on his second dive of the day -- and that wasn't even his best score.

That came on his next dive -- a forward 2 somersault pike -- with a score of a 63.7, and Piner eventually rolled up 533.35 points en route to his third straight county title.

"I just know I came from nothing and grew to do a lot, which was my goal from the start," Piner reflected on bring home the championship in his final county meet.

While Piner was wrapping up his legacy in the present, the future of Gwinnett's diving scene was also on display Saturday, and judging from the results, that future is very bright.

Sophomores took the next three places in the final standings -- with Brookwood's Stephen Jou finishing as county runner-up with 477.25 points, followed by Parkview's Ben Warren in third at 349.05 and Grayson's Paul Anderson in fourth at 324.65 -- while Parkview freshman Connor Rosenthal rounded out the top five with a score of 301.25.

For Jou, Saturday's performance was a big jump after he finished eighth as a freshman in last year's county meet.

"Some (dives) were working and some weren't," Jou said. "But I tried to feed off the worst dives, and it kind of helped me out with the hard dives. I just want to be consistent (the rest of the year) and try to put some new dives in for (the Class AAAAA) state (meet)."

But while Jou and the rest of the youth movement were able to push Piner, Saturday still belonged to the two-time reigning champion, even if he didn't feel like had his best day.

But he's hoping a return to the more familiar diving boards at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center at the state meet Feb. 10 will be the springboard he needs to finally capture a state title after finishing as runner-up to Alpharetta's Jack Nyquist the last two years.

"Practice has been going really well lately at Georgia Tech," Piner said. "The boards there are my favorite. Every board is different, but at state, I'm planning on going out a lot bigger."

The second five in the standings began with a couple of milestones in sixth-place Paul McGuffin and seventh-place Brendan Eckard.

The two Duluth divers had already qualified for the state meet before Saturday, but did so again with scores of 292.85 and 278.85 respectively, and will mark the first time two Wildcat boys divers have qualified for state in the same year.

Meanwhile, Chris Yenney gave Parkview its fourth diver in the top 10 by finishing eighth at 267.35, while Jeremy Rutledge of Grayson (265.65) and Travis Button of Archer (259.20) rounded out the top 10.