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Ramsey charges to state title

Duluth’s Erin Hembree competes in the Class AAAAAA State Diving Championships at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center in Atlanta Thursday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

Duluth’s Erin Hembree competes in the Class AAAAAA State Diving Championships at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center in Atlanta Thursday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

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Peachtree Ridge’s Anna Cate Miller competes in the Class AAAAAA State Diving Championships at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center in Atlanta on Thursday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

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Parkview’s Ben Warren competes in the Class AAAAAA State Diving Championships at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center in Atlanta Thursday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

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Norcross’ Griffin Ramsey competes in the Class AAAAAA State Diving Championships at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center in Atlanta Thursday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

ATLANTA — After the county meet, Griffin Ramsey admitted when pitted against Ben Warren, the results relied on the marginal differences divers experience day-to-day.

For the second straight time, Ramsey turned in a better day.

The Norcross sophomore topped the defending state champion Warren for the Georgia diving crown on Thursday, besting Warren again and delivering the best performance of his career with 449.40 points. His previous best was 418.10 set at the county meet.

“I did a lot better than I expected,” said Ramsey, who capped his meet with a powerful dive that put any chance of Warren matching him away. “This is not what I expected.

“It’s definitely a friendly competition (with Warren).

Ramsey said he started to realize he was on track for a record day after the final cuts when he saw his score already creeping toward 400.

“It felt really good,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey’s championship and Warren following in second was just the start of a Gwinnett heavy leaderboard that included nine placers in the top 16. Included in that group was Jeremy Rutledge (fourth) and Josh White (12th) from Grayson, North Gwinnett’s Tim Hoell, Collins Hill’s Ben Parker (11th) who competed with an injured foot that left him limping and tearing up between dives, Dacula’s Jacob Ortley (13th), Mountain View’s Zach Higashi (15th) and Jalen Lewis (16th) from Meadowcreek.

“We are all friendly here so it’s fun,” Ramsey said.

For the girls, it wasn’t the best but Erin Hembree reached every goal she set.

The Duluth junior who finished out of the top 10 in the state meet a year ago, started the year with her sights on two things — the county championship and a top 5 finish at the state meet.

Hembree claimed her county goal when she bested Peachtree Ridge’s Anna Cate Miller by just more than two points and hit her goal on its mark Thursday.

Hembree took fifth in the state meet with 381.45 points, leading all Gwinnett divers. Miller finished seventh and South Gwinnett’s Markiyah Davis earned the Comets a point, finishing 16th.

“Going into the year, I thought, ‘Wow, those are lofty goals,’” Hembree said. “For once I actually looked at the scoreboard today. I knew it was going to be close.”

For Hembree, the finish wasn’t as strong as she hoped, slipping out of second place in her final two dives, but she said was satisfied with her All-American finish.

“She accomplished everything we set for her,” Duluth coach Jim Reason said. “I am very, very proud of her.”