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Seneca Valley senior wins PIAA diving gold to end high school career

Seneca Valley senior Isaiah Clerkley ended his high school diving career on the highest of high notes.

Isaiah Clerkley, a senior at Seneca Valley, finished his high school diving career with great success.

The future Penn State student ended the 11-dive PIAA Class 3A championship meet at Kinney Natatorium with an impressive 570.40 points, leading the field by roughly 80 points. Alex Wodehouse from Governor Mifflin finished as runner-up.

Clerkley expressed his satisfaction, stating, “It feels fantastic. This was one of my major goals for the year, and to finally achieve it is an incredible feeling.”

After finishing as the runner-up to Brady Stanton from North Penn last year, Clerkley claimed the top spot.

Reflecting on last year's close competition, Clerkley said, “I was a little upset. I gave it my all last year, and coming into this year, I knew I had to work even harder and perform more difficult dives.”

Clerkley had hoped to compete against Stanton again, but Stanton's shoulder injury prevented him from participating in the District 1 championship meet.

Clerkley expressed his disappointment, stating, “That was disappointing. Brady is an excellent diver, and it would've been great to see how we would've matched up against each other.”

Clerkley steadily improved over the past two years, progressing from 15th place in his PIAA debut as a sophomore in 2022.

He led after his first five dives, with his 269.85 points placing him 62 points ahead of the competition.

Despite a lower-scoring dive than he had anticipated in the second round, Clerkley maintained a 43.05-point lead over Wodehouse with 337.25 points.

Clerkley excelled in the finals, earning 180 points in the final three dives to secure his victory by scoring 65 points with a 2.6 degree of difficulty in his last dive.

To overcome the setback of the eighth dive, Clerkley focused on one dive at a time and aimed to end the meet with his best three dives to feel relaxed and confident.

Jackson Hagler, a junior from Fox Chapel, participated in the state diving competition for the third consecutive year. He placed 19th in his freshman year and eighth last year.

This time, Hagler achieved his best result, finishing third overall with 433.00 points after being the WPIAL runner-up on Feb. 24 at North Allegheny.

Hagler expressed his confidence, stating, “Heading into the finals, I knew that even though they were some of my higher difficulty dives, they were dives I knew I could execute well. I had a lot of confidence.”

Acknowledging the tough competition, Hagler said, “The competition is fierce. I had to perform well today to achieve my final placement. I am proud of my overall performance.”

Hagler's 11 dives totaled a 22.50 degree of difficulty.

After the first round of five dives, he was in 13th place with a total of 169.35 points, but his placement improved through the second round.

Hagler gained momentum and climbed the rankings, finishing with 293.05 points after the second round, placing third overall.

Reflecting on his initial disappointment, Hagler shared, “Honestly, after that first round, I was really down. Despite starting with my worst dive and low scores, my teammates and coaches kept me focused on improving. They emphasized the importance of the next dive, which kept me motivated.”

All four teams from the WPIAL were in the top eight as they headed into the finals.

Macolm Thompson, a junior from Mt. Lebanon, had the seventh position with a score of 281.40, while Miles Miller from Seneca Valley was eighth with 275.00 points after completing eight dives.

Thompson remained in eighth place and achieved a final score of 386.10, standing on the podium.

In the finals, Miller's position dropped by two spots, and he ended up in 10th place overall with a total of 379.75 points.

Isaiah Clerkley, a senior at Seneca Valley, concluded his high school diving career on a very positive note.

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