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Amherst Regional’s Luca Brashear wins WMass diving championship



Last modified: Wednesday, February 17, 2016
SPRINGFIELD — Amherst Regional’s Luca Brashear was the 31st diver to step on the 1-meter board at the Western Massachusetts Championships on Friday.

While he waited, the nerves kicked in as he prepared for his inward dive at Springfield College’s Art Linkletter Natatorium.

Thirty divers later, Brashear faced the nerves and unleashed his first dive of the day that was worth a score of 20.5. It was the first of 11 that added up to 441.25 and a sectional championship title for the sophomore.

“I was pretty nervous,” Brashear said. “Coming in I didn’t know if I would win or have an awful day. Diving is a mental sport, and you have to visualize your dives. That’s what I did, and it feels great to win.”

Brashear finished in first despite trailing the area’s best diver, Monson’s Connor Pennington, all season. However, Pennington had a foot injury and was unable to compete.

“It was really unfortunate that (Pennington) hurt his foot,” Brashear said. “I really wish I got to compete against him, but I’m looking forward to competing against him at states.”

Brashear started the event off with his go-to dives: the dives he can rely on for quality scores. Once he found himself well ahead of the field with 204 points after five rounds, he broke out the more challenging dives.

“My first six dives were really solid,” Brashear said. “They’re very fundamental dives that I find easy. My next set of dives were a little harder. My last three dives were reverse one-and-a-half (somersault), forward one-and-a-half (with) one twist and forward one-and-a-half (with) two twists. Those are challenging dives so it’s hard to get through the last part of the meet.”

Longmeadow’s A.J. Nolan finished second. Nolan and Brashear are members of the same club team that dives at Springfield College.

In the girls championship, Northampton’s Victoria Miller and Jordyn Vandergrift set the pace for the Blue Devils. Miller finished sixth with a score of 363.3, while Vandergrift, a freshman, finished ninth with a score of 329.35. Miller’s top dive was a back dive that received a score of 21.5. Vandergrift earned a score of 19.5 on her inward and back somersault dives.

“It was a pretty solid performance for both of us,” Miller said. “We had a really good meet, and it was a lot of fun.”

Miller and Vandergrift hope that their efforts are enough to help their teammates compete in the swimming portion of the championship, which starts at 9 a.m. Saturday at Springfield College.

“I hope (our teammates) swim as best they can and pull through to hopefully get a top five,” Vandergrift said.

“We all worked really hard this season and I hope that it pays off,” Miller added.