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Area divers fare well at zone meets

Emily Spychala and Chris Colwill paced a successful performance by area divers in zone meets last weekend in two different states.

Both won zone championships and will be joined by Alex Hathaway, Timothy Hyer and Meghan Perry-Eaton for the U.S. Junior National Diving Championships Aug. 6-11 in Coral Springs.

Spychala is a member of the Bay Area Divers Team in Tampa and the others compete with the Jetstream Diving Club in Brandon.

Spychala won the Class 6A championship last winter as a sophomore at Gaither and was selected by the National High School Diving Association as one of three Floridians as a first-team All-American.

She trains all year with her Tampa Club under the direction of Barry Thomas. This summer she has been training in Moultrie, Ga., with the Moss Farms international team.

Although she is defending national champion for age group 14-15 and is only 15, she chose to move up to age 16-18 at zones and nationals this summer to be eligible for international events.

Competing in Zone C in Houston last week, she won the 1-meter title and placed sixth on the 3-meter, qualifying for nationals in both.

Colwill, although still only 11, competes with the 13-and-under group. He is the defending national champion for his group and has never lost an international meet.

He qualified in Zone B competition by winning the platform event, placing third on the 3-meter and taking fourth on the 1-meter.

Joe Greenwell, coach for the Jetstream, was pleased with the results of his four qualifiers and optimistic about their opportunities at nationals.

"Because some of the top divers in the country were in Zone-B, especially 13-and-under, they should do just as well in nationals," Greenwell said. "Chris has a chance to be on the U.S. Junior National team again this year and compete in a big meet in Canada the week after nationals. He just has to place in the top three in any of the three events."

Hyer placed seventh on the 3-meter to earn his berth in the same age group with Colwill.

Hathaway, a senior at Boca Ciega High, placed fourth on the 3-meter and sixth on the 1-meter for ages 16-18.

Competing with girls ages 14-15, Perry-Eaton placed fifth on the 3-meter. She will be a sophomore at Seminole High this fall.

Kara Strickland, Ashly Boland and Shelly Cavaliere, the three other locals from the Bay Area Club, didn't qualify for nationals.

"A combination of poor preparation and a lack of confidence got them rattled in the midst of some tough competition last week," Thomas said. "As their coach I have to take the responsibility for that, but they are all good divers. They will pick themselves up and get back right away."