D2 diving: Dallas’ Jaelyn Shaver, Tunkhannock’s Sawyer Aitken shine at championships

By Dan Stokes - For Times Leader
Dallas’ Jaelyn Shaver performs a dive en route to a gold medal in the District 2 Class 2A Girls Diving Championships at the Wyoming Valleye CYC in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Dallas’ Gianna Leo performs a dive en route to a silver medal in the Distict 2 Class 2A Girls Diving Championships at the Wyoming Valley CYC in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Tunkhannock’s Sawyer Aitken dives to a gold medal in the Distict 2 Class 2A Boys Diving Championships at the Wyoming Valley CYC in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
District 2 Class 2A diving gold medalist Jaelyn Shaver, of Dallas, center, silver medalist Gianna Leo, of Dallas, left, and bronze medalist Haily Yakimowicz, of Holy Redeemer, stand on the podium after the competition Saturday. - - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Holy Redeemer’s Haily Yakimowicz performs a dive during her third-place finish at the Distict 2 Class 2A Girls Diving Championships at the Wyoming Valley CYC in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. - - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE — After Dallas claimed the top three spots on the podium in the District 2 Class 2A Girls Diving Championships, Holy Redeemer got its chance to send a diver to states.

With the top three divers moving on to states, the Mountaineers’ Jaelyn Shaver and Gianna Leo claimed the top two spots, respectively, while Holy Redeemer’s Haily Yakimowicz finished third out of seven divers Saturday at the Wyoming Valley Catholic Youth Center.

Holy Redeemer and Dallas, both coached by Paul Mierzwa, were pitted against one another in hopes of advancing to the PIAA Diving Championships in March.

“They worked hard and to see the camaraderie between them as they all were fighting for the top spot,” Mierzwa said. “They all performed well and I couldn’t be more prouder of them.

“It settles down a little bit, they were fighting for points for their team and to place for states. They get a little more relaxed now,” the coach added. “They have their dives, they are not learning anything new they are just getting better at what they do. Now for the next couple weeks they will need to practice and rehearse their dives and get ready for states.”

In her first appearance in a district championship, Dallas freshman Jaelyn Shaver took home first with an score of 371.90 points. The freshman finished 20.5 points ahead of her teammate, Leo.

“I’m really happy. It’s unbelievable. I didn’t think I’d come in here and win. I just tried to do my best.”

Shaver contributes her first-place finish to her double-pike program.

“I actually learned it two weeks ago. I’m glad it worked out.”

Shaver is happy to go to states with some familiar faces.

“I love Gianna and Hailey. They’re my teammates. They are like sister’s to me,” Shaver said. “We have been together every day since October.”

In the boys championships, Tunkhannock’s Sawyer Aitken came out on top. With only two spots on the District 2 state team, Aitken was joined by teammate Hunter Whytashek.

Elk Lake’s Zach Shields rounded out the field, coming in third.

Aitken, a two-time Times Leader All-Star, earned his first top finish in the 2A diving championships.

“It just feels amazing. I’m totally stoked,” said the senior. “I’m glad all the hard work finally paid off. I finally got first. Two years ago I finished third and last year I got second,” Aitken said.

Aitken had a commanding lead the entire time. He finished over 100 points ahead of Whytashek.

“Once I knew I was in the lead I didn’t want to take my foot of the pedal. I just wanted to keep raising my score,” Aitken said. “I have our school record and I want to beat that so I always go for the highest score.

“While I prepare for states, I’m just going to work on my form and make sure I can get the easy dives done well and the hard dives done even better.”

DISTRICT 2 CLASS 2A DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

GIRLS

PL`Name`School`Score

1.`Jaelyn Shaver`Dallas`371.90

2.`Gianna Leo`Dallas`351.40

3.`Haily Yakimowicz`Holy Redeemer`343.50

4.`Bailey Flannery`Holy Redeemer`324.65

5.`Mary Strunk`Holy Redeemer`321.40

6.`Kayla Taddei`Wyoming Area`309.25

7.`Mia Reinert`Dallas`300.05

BOYS

PL`Name`School`Score

1.`Sawyer Aitken`Tunkhannock`415.80

2.`Hunter Whytashek`Tunkhannock`309.00

3.`Zach Shields`Elk Lake`291.85

Dallas’ Jaelyn Shaver performs a dive en route to a gold medal in the District 2 Class 2A Girls Diving Championships at the Wyoming Valleye CYC in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_TTL022518DistrictDiving_1.jpgDallas’ Jaelyn Shaver performs a dive en route to a gold medal in the District 2 Class 2A Girls Diving Championships at the Wyoming Valleye CYC in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Dallas’ Gianna Leo performs a dive en route to a silver medal in the Distict 2 Class 2A Girls Diving Championships at the Wyoming Valley CYC in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_TTL022518DistrictDiving_2.jpgDallas’ Gianna Leo performs a dive en route to a silver medal in the Distict 2 Class 2A Girls Diving Championships at the Wyoming Valley CYC in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Tunkhannock’s Sawyer Aitken dives to a gold medal in the Distict 2 Class 2A Boys Diving Championships at the Wyoming Valley CYC in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_TTL022518DistrictDiving_4.jpgTunkhannock’s Sawyer Aitken dives to a gold medal in the Distict 2 Class 2A Boys Diving Championships at the Wyoming Valley CYC in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

District 2 Class 2A diving gold medalist Jaelyn Shaver, of Dallas, center, silver medalist Gianna Leo, of Dallas, left, and bronze medalist Haily Yakimowicz, of Holy Redeemer, stand on the podium after the competition Saturday.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_TTL022518DistrictDiving_5.jpgDistrict 2 Class 2A diving gold medalist Jaelyn Shaver, of Dallas, center, silver medalist Gianna Leo, of Dallas, left, and bronze medalist Haily Yakimowicz, of Holy Redeemer, stand on the podium after the competition Saturday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Holy Redeemer’s Haily Yakimowicz performs a dive during her third-place finish at the Distict 2 Class 2A Girls Diving Championships at the Wyoming Valley CYC in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_TTL022518DistrictDiving_3.jpgHoly Redeemer’s Haily Yakimowicz performs a dive during her third-place finish at the Distict 2 Class 2A Girls Diving Championships at the Wyoming Valley CYC in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

By Dan Stokes

For Times Leader

Reach Times Leader sports at 570-829-7143 or on Twitter @TLsports

Reach Times Leader sports at 570-829-7143 or on Twitter @TLsports