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The first medals of the PIAA Swimming and Diving Championships at Bucknell

University came late Wednesday afternoon when eight boys divers out of the 24 who started the competition were awarded medals for their performance. District 11 sent two divers to the medal stand, with Emmaus’ Brendan McCourt picking up his second straight gold medal with a final score of 551.80. Parkland’s Ethan Radio finished fourth after mounting a formidable comeback through the middle and late rounds to finish with a score of 441.55.

McCourt’s win captured not only his second state gold but capped off a season that saw him win gold in districts helping to lead the Emmaus boys to a District 11 championship and rewrite both the school and pool records at Emmaus. This year’s district gold was his third straight after he finished third in his freshman season.

Abington’s Conor Gesing finished second and led through the first three rounds while McCourt bounced between second and third place. The early standings weren’t surprising considering that McCourt prefers to put his most consistent and highest scoring dives late in his routine.

“After my front-two-and-a-half [round three], that gave me so much more confidence going into the middle rounds,” said McCourt, who used the same set of dives that he used to win states last year. “My first eight dives were better this year, but my last three were definitely better last year. I’m just really happy that I nailed all of this today.”

McCourt’s high school career is now done and he will head off to the University of Texas to continue his diving career and is hoping at some point to qualify for the Olympic Trials.

Through the first five rounds, Radio was in 10th position and not far from falling even further. Radio, who is a sophomore, was quick enough to catch himself letting negative thoughts crawl into his head and turned things around in the second half of the competition.

“I was kind of getting nervous and I started thinking to myself that ‘you can’t come back from this.’ I just changed my mindset and made it more positive and told myself ‘I can come back’ and I just calmed myself from there,” explained Radio.

Radio quickly turned things around and moved up through the standings and had moved into fifth place going into the final three rounds. From there, he was able to move up one spot further to finish fourth.

“I knew that I could pull things together because I had done it before, so I’m glad that I got myself straightened out and was able to move up,” said Radio.

District 11 swimmers went quietly through the rest of the first day of competition. Only two area relay teams picked up medals. Emmaus picked up medals for eighth place in both the 200-yard medley and the 200-yard freestyle relays. Senior Devin Metzger was a member of both teams, working with classmate Gio Germano and juniors Nick Soares and Michael Iacobelli in the 200-medley and then teaming with juniors Luke Rautzhan and Connor Shriver and sophomore Alex Magditch on the 200-freestyle.

While they didn’t medal, Nazareth placed 11th in the boys 200-yard freestyle relay and Parkland finished 14th in the girls 200-yard medley relay.

Parkland’s Kayla Johnson competed in the 200-yard freestyle and finished 15th.

The 3A competition continues Thursday with girls diving and five other events for both boys and girls. Friday and Saturday will see swimmers and divers from 2A classification schools competing.

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