Published in The News-Herald
February 20, 2020
CANTON — Before she begins her process on the board, and as her dive and degree of difficulty is announced, Mary O’Neill gives a respectful nod to the judges on each side of the diving well.
The Kenston senior knows the drill well, after all, since it was her fourth career state appearance.
After competition Feb. 19 in Division II state diving at Canton McKinley’s Branin Natatorium, O’Neill could deliver an affirmative nod in another sense — for a career-best finish and a job well done.
The NC State recruit took fourth in D-II with a score of 422.30.
O’Neill is the seventh News-Herald coverage area girls diver to crack the top four at state all-time and third in the last 25 years, along with Euclid’s Katie Carter (fourth in D-I, 2005) and West Geauga’s Kami Goodrick, the 2017 D-II state champion and a four-time top-three state placer.
She was also one of three area girls divers to make the podium in 2020, along with Chagrin Falls’ Kate LaMonica (fifth, 419.10) and Beachwood’s Amanda Leizman (eighth, 406.30).
“It’s just awesome to be here with Kate especially, who’s my really good teammate,” O’Neill said of her club contemporary LaMonica. “And it’s just honestly a fun experience, and you just want to do well. This is kind of like icing on the cake.”
O’Neill was a three-time state qualifier in D-I, including getting on the podium in eighth (426.05) last winter. The Bombers made the move to D-II this year, adding more quality to what was already rich area depth in D-II girls diving.
“Four times? I can’t even think back to freshman year. That felt so long ago,” O’Neill said with a laugh. “Freshman year getting to state, I was just like, ‘Are you sure?’ So it was just crazy, and I just kept wanting to do it again. I guess freshman year, you just want to work harder and harder.”
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