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Amherst diver Luca Brashear learning from ‘Canes record holder Jason Cook



@kylegrbwsk
Saturday, January 28, 2017

AMHERST — Jason Cook’s diving records adorn the pool wall at Amherst Regional Middle School.

The ’08 Amherst Regional graduate and former UMass diver scored 355 points on six dives and 622.05 on 11.

This season, he started coaching Hurricanes’ junior diver Luca Brashear, and he’s striving to see those records fall.

“I hope so, and he’s one that could do it,” Cook said. “I’m trying to get him those harder dives so he can break my record.”

Brasher’s best this year is 299.4, so he still has some ground to make up. Diving scores can be increased through either perfecting easier dives or increasing the difficulty of those dives. In high school, three judges score a dive one through 10 after it is performed. Those scores are added together then multiplied by the degree of difficulty.

“I feel like I’ve made a lot of improvements on technical stuff (this year). I haven’t gotten too many new dives,” Brashear said. “Diving’s something that you have to work on everything constantly.”

Brashear and Cook strike a balance between learning new dives and perfecting his current arsenal. Some days one or the other will want to go crazy and try too many new things, and the other will have to rein the over-excited partner in.

“Usually I just agree. If it’s something that’s crazy, which oftentimes with Jason it is, I’ll just say no,” Brashear said. “He’s always pushing me, which is a good thing. I appreciate that he’s pushing me.”

Cook admitted he can sometimes get carried away with what he wants Brashear to try.

“I see myself in him as a young diver,” Cook said. “I’m looking at his dives and seeing the potential that is there.”

Cook came back to Amherst specifically to coach Brashear. His day job is aquatics director at Deerfield Academy, and he coaches diving at Deerfield.

Amherst athletic director Rich Ferro called Cook before the seasoning asked him to coach Brashear.

“I had heard his name through the grapevine over the past couple years, how he was diving and improving,” Cook said. “I thought it would be a pleasure to coach him.”

Their partnership has been fruitful so far. Brashear ranks second in the PVIAC in his highest scoring list (299.4) and average scoring (272.89).

He scored a 247 Friday in a 106-68 loss to Belchertown at Amherst Middle School. The score was below his average because Brashear worked on new dives to try and potentially qualify them for the Western Massachusetts championships. A diver must score at least a five from all three judges to be able to use the dive at Western Mass.

He broke out the reverse 1½ twist for the first time in competition and hit his mark to qualify the dive.

“I just learned that a couple weeks ago, so it’s not as refined,” Brashear said.

Anything Brashear and Cook try or work on during the dual-meet season is building toward the championship meets in mid-February. He’s the defending Western Mass. champion and finished fifth at the Division 2 state championships.

Brashear quickly points out that Monson’s Connor Pennington missed Western Mass. with an ankle injury. Pennington leads Western Mass. in scoring average (288.37) and highest score (327.55).

“I love Connor’s diving. We are friends. He has some of the dives like a reverse 2½ that I don’t have yet,” Brashear said. “I have more experience and form than him, but he’s definitely bigger and stronger. We’ll see if my form can conquer his degree of difficulty.”

Cook knows what it takes to win at the sectional and state level. Brashear thinks he has the coach to get him there.

“He holds the records here,” Brashear said. “I know I can trust him.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com.

Boys swimming & diving

Belchertown 101, Amherst 67

at Amherst

200 medley relay — (B) 1. Dennis Lelic, Cameron Wright, Christopher Chumbley, 1:47.65; (A) 2. Noah Labich, Andrew Ni, Yonatan Ben-Chaim, Antonio Polino, 1:50.14; 200 free — (A) 1. Ben-Chaim, 2:05.24; (B) 3. Jonah Weiss, 2:07.9; 200 IM — (B) 1. Ben Laclair, 1:02.47; (A) 2. Labich, 2:02.83; 50 free — (B) 1. Chumbley, 23.9; (A) 2. Solomon Albertine, 25.22; Diving — (A) 1. Luca Brashear, 247; 100 fly — (A) 1. Ben-Chaim, 55.62; (B) 2. Chumbley, 56.19; 100 free — (B) 1. Lelic, 52.45; (A) 3. Lee Won-Ho, 58.59; 500 free — (B) 1. Laclair, 4:57:41; (A) 2. Polino, 5:36.16; 200 free relay — (B) 1. Chumbley, Lelic, Kagan Sherson, Laclair, 1:36.12; (A) 3. Albertine, Lee, Noah Kramer, Ni, 1:50.07; 100 back — (A) 1. Albertine, 1:05.36; (B) 2. Jarred Veroneau, 1:08.19; 100 breast — (A) 1. Labich, 1:10.40; (B) 2. Lelic, 1:11.4; 400 free relay — (B) 1. Zachary Bail Weiss, Veroneau, Wright, 3:58.61;

Records: Amherst (4-5, 0-5 Minuteman); Belchertown (5-2, 1-2 Minuteman)

Agawam 60, South Hadley 29

at South Hadley

200 medley relay — (SH) 2. Nate McClure, John Parenteau, Will Gagne, Cam Barnish 200 free — 3. Barnish 2:40.55 200 IM –2. Parenteau 2:36.85 50 free —3. Barnish 32.87 100 fly — 1. McClure 57.59 100 free — 3. Bryan Wolf 1:19.59 500 free — 1. Gagne 5:53.07 200 free relay — 2. Parenteau, Barnish, McClure, Gagne 1:51.83 100 back — 2. McClure 1:01.61 100 breast — 1. Gagne 1:17.10

Records: South Hadley (1-8, 1-3 Patriot) Agawam (9-3, 6-0)

Girls swimming & diving

Belchertown 101, Amherst 67

at Amherst

200 medley relay — (B) 1. Audra Hale, Wiktoria Kaczor, Aubrey Endress, Nicole Beaumont, 2:00.97; (A) 3. Aiden Thomas-Paquin, Johanna Hartman, Anah Hennesy, Shihanna Maradiaga, 2:25.78; 200 free — (B) 1. Hailey Synan, 2:03.74; (A) 2. Sophie Schilling, 2:14.69; 200 IM — (A) 1. Maggie Thibault, 2:25.48; (B) 2. Kaczor, 2:25.63; 50 free — 1. Endress, 27.69; (B) Regan Thibault, 28.36; 100 fly — (A) 1. Endress, 1:07.27; (B) 2. Thomas-Paquin, 1:11.08; 100 free — (B) 1. Synan, 57.94; (A) 2. Vianka Acosta-Mackenzie , 59.53; 500 free — (B) 1. Brooke Podsiadio, 5:50.54; (A) 3. R. Thibault, 6:26.89; 200 free relay — (B) 1. Kaczor, Endress, Podsiadio, Synan, 1:50.95; (A) 2. Acosta-McKenzie, R. Thibault, Schilling, M. Thibault, 1:51.76; 100 back — (B) 1. Hale, 1:05.7; (A) 2. M. Thibault, 1:08.84; 100 breast — (B) 1. Kaczor, 1:13.52; (A) 2. Acosta-McKenzie, 1:15.47; 400 free relay — (B) 1. Beaumont, Podsiadio, Hale, Synan, 4:01.46; (A) 2. M. Thibault, R. Thibault, Schilling, Acosta-Mckenzie, 4:05.81;

Records: Amherst (4-5, 0-5 Minuteman); Belchertown (6-1, 2-1 Minuteman)

Agawam 54.5, South Hadley 39.5

at South Hadley

200 medley relay — (SH) 1. Jayde Thomas, Eilis Hellyar, Sydney Mercier Reese Carey 2:08.37 200 free —3. Coryn Maroney 2:37.19 200 IM – 2. Anna Hellyar 2:40.31; 50 free — 2. Carey 28.78 100 fly — 2. Mercier 1:15.19 100 free — 3. Molly Menard 1:23.61 500 free — 3. Luiza Guberow 7:15.38 200 free relay — 1. Thomas, E. Hellyar, Mercier, Carey 1:55.67 100 back — 1. Thomas 1:14.67 100 breast —E. Hellyar 1:21.75 400 free relay — 2. Thomas, Mercier E. Hellyar, Carey 4:24.65

Records: South Hadley (1-8, 1-3 Patriot) Agawam (6-6, 4-1)