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Schedule conflict knocks out Spychala

Emily Spychala was looking forward to trying for her third straight Class 6A state diving championship in late November, but she's had a change of plans.

As a member of the the U.S. National Diving Team, she is one of six girls who earned the right to compete in the Junior World Championships Nov. 13-14 in Malaysia.

That is the same date she was scheduled to compete in Class 6A districts. Only the top three divers in each district, plus some at-large, qualify for the state meet.

Officials at Gaither High filed a motion to the sectional appeals committee of the Florida High School Activities Association requesting an exemption from having to qualify. According to Gaither girls swim and dive team coach Jean Tinnin, the appeal was made on the grounds that Spychala is a two-time state champion and is undefeated in high-school competition in almost three seasons. The committee denied the request.

"I really want to go to state, but in order to compete in districts, I let my country down and to compete for the U.S. I will be forced to let my team down," Spychala said.

Ron Allen, deputy commissioner of the FHSAA, said there is another step in the appeals system.

"The sectional appeals committee simply denied the request for her to bypass qualifying," Allen said. "However, officials from her school can appeal to the 15-member board of directors."

Gaither officials could not be reached for comment on whether they would pursue the appeal.