North Xtra: North Allegheny rates as WPIAL title threat

January 5, 2012 12:00 am

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For the past four years, every meet that the North Allegheny boys' swimming and diving team entered, the Tigers walked in knowing they had the best diver in the building.

Veteran coach Kirk "Corky" Semler entered this season without any divers.

"It is a little bit of a different team this year," Semler said. "We had the best diver in Pennsylvania state history for the past four years and now he is gone."

After winning four WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA diving championships for North Allegheny, Connor Kuremsky has taken his talents to Stanford University leaving no WPIAL qualifying divers behind on the boys team at North Allegheny.

"We literally had no boys divers for the first time in my three and a half decades coaching," he said.

Semler has since added a few beginning divers and said it was an odd way to get the season started.

Unlike swimming, diving is not a sport easily picked up. While Kuremsky was able to hop in a lane and compete in a swimming event, and even qualify for the WPIAL championships doing so, a coach cannot simply pull a swimmer out of the water and send him to the diving board.

"Diving is a sport related to gymnastics and that is certainly a dying sport among high school boys," Semler said.

Just because North Allegheny does not have any experienced divers does not mean the Tigers are just going to sink this year, far from it. Diving makes up only a small percentage of the overall points in dual meets and in multi-team meets such as the WPIAL championships.

"I promise we won't embarrass ourselves," Semler said with a laugh.

North Allegheny's streak of five WPIAL Class AAA boys' team championships ended last season at the hands of Upper St. Clair. Sporting a deep lineup, the Panthers edged the Tigers, 295.5-289.

"We came a lot closer than anyone expected," Semler said. "Upper St. Clair deserved to win. If I had to pick it this year, I don't think I could."

First Published 2012-02-09 19:12:21
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