Freshman Pine-Richland diver wins WPIAL medal
Sunday, March 6, 2022 | 11:01 a.m.
A few months ago, Kendyll Jerry had never been on a diving board, so leaving the WPIAL Championships with a podium and a medal was quite an achievement.
Jerry, a freshman at Pine-Richland, placed eighth in the WPIAL Class 3A girls meet Feb. 26 in North Allegheny.
She posted a score of 355.90, finishing 14 points ahead of Mars’ Kristen Maybach for the final podium spot.
“Everything went pretty well,” Jerry said of his first WPIAL Championship Diving experience. “I was really nervous, but once I started it was good. The first few dives were nerve wracking.
Jerry was one of three divers to qualify for Pine-Richland. Maddie Alexander, a senior, and Emily Smallwood, a junior, made the final cut after eight dives. Alexander placed 12th and Smallwood 13th.
Jerry had a background in gymnastics but decided to give up the sport. It was then that she decided to try diving and play lacrosse at Pine-Richland.
“A group of girls from gymnastics are divers. Two of my friends were doing it so I decided to give it a try and I’m glad I did,” she said. “I love it.”
She was very raw and inexperienced when she came to Pine-Richland’s diving coach, Maria Misenhelter, but soon showed promise. Misenhelter was impressed with Jerry’s determination throughout.
“She’s improved so much throughout the season,” Misenhelter said. “She started with a basic list. She could only do the required dives. The learning curve this year has been incredible. She takes the lead very well. Everything I ask her to do, she does. She’ll come in after two hours of running in lacrosse practice and jump straight into diving or after being in the pool and getting wet, she’ll come out in the freezing cold for lacrosse practice. She has an incredible work ethic.
Jerry practiced a reverse dive the week of the WPIAL to add a dive with a higher degree of difficulty to his repertoire. She practiced it until the day before and made her debut in the semi-finals of the competition. Jerry was fifth after the preliminary round and in the final qualifying spot for the States, but was passed by a few divers who attempted dives with higher degrees of difficulty to score more points.
With another year of training, Jerry will have some of these dives in her arsenal and hopes she can do sophomore states.
“She’ll be doing country club, and we’ve got some new dives for her to do,” Misenhelter said. “His confidence has grown so much this year.”
Dylan McCabe, the only male diver from Pine-Richland to qualify for the WPIALs, ended his career with a medal.
McCabe placed seventh with a score of 316.90. It was a career best performance for the seniors. McCabe was in the mix for a top-five finish throughout the competition, but finished 19.6 points behind Seneca Valley’s Sam Hersick, who took fifth and the final state qualifying spot. . Fox Chapel freshman Jackson Hagler placed sixth at 319.45.
Jerin Steele is a freelance writer