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Tamaqua’ Shilko places third at districts

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    Tamaqua’s Billy Shilko competes in the District 11 Diving Championships on Saturday at Emmaus. NANCY SCHOLZ/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

Published February 25. 2019 12:14PM

EMMAUS – Tamaqua was not only well represented at Saturday’s District 11 Diving Championships, but its two senior participants both finished in the top five.

Billy Shilko reached the podium with a third-place showing (313.45) in the boys Class 2A ranks, while classmate Billy Frederick finished fifth with an overall score of 295.50.

“I wish I would’ve done a lot better and I know I could have, but I’m happy with a medal for my senior year,” Shilko said. “I felt like I had a pretty good season. I almost broke 300 for a six-dive meet. Those made me feel very good ... I did the best that I could, and came out with third place.”

Shilko and Frederick remained in their final positions after eight of the 11 diving rounds.

“I’m disappointed in myself, I felt like I could have done better,” Frederick said. “I would say the first seven dives, I was in over my head. I started diving for the fun of it because I knew I couldn’t get higher in the rankings. Once I started diving for fun, I started getting better scores.”

Tamaqua diving coach MaryAnn Shilko noted there was one thing holding her boys back throughout the meet.

“Their biggest downfall was their distance from the board, and they really got crucified,” coach Shilko said. “Overall, they dove well, but they were really looking at the distance from the board.”

On the girls’ side, Tamaqua also had a representative in freshman Ashley Jones, who was a former gymnast before turning her attention to the pool.

“Her biggest downfall was her height,” coach Shilko said. “Otherwise, she did fine. She did very well for her freshman year. She’s a former gymnast, so that really helped her along. She did very well, I’m very proud of her. I really am.”

Jones recorded a seventh-place finish in the Class 2A girls division with a score of 210.35. It was the freshman’s inaugural appearance at districts, and admitted that might have affected her performance.

“It wasn’t my best at all, I was really nervous,” Jones said. “It’s been fun and everybody’s really good. It was something cool to watch. I learned a lot about their twists, how to get up higher.

“It was a pretty good season. I didn’t get really nervous in those meets. It was pretty good.”

Jamilie Atiyeh, from Allentown Central Catholic, captured the girls 2A event, while Parkland’s Lexi Lehman (479.75) recorded the win in the 3A division.

Saucon Valley diver Noah Mauro captured the 2A boys title after dealing with back issues leading into districts. A scary moment happened when Mauro went to dive late in the meet and the board broke, forcing the rest of the competition to take place on one board.

Mauro was uninjured after the incident and was able to redo his dive.

DISTRICT EXPERIENCE … Tamaqua coach Shilko talked about a Blue Raider girl returning to diving districts for the first time in two years: “I haven’t been here in two years. This is the first time I have a girl here since Emma Rego two years ago.”

THE FUTURE IS NEAR … Shilko’s third-place showing, along with Frederick’s district finale, got his mom (and head coach) emotional at the end of the meet. “It was tough. It was back-and-forth, but they kept their nerves about them and they did well. It was gut-wrenching. This is it, he’s a senior. It’s hard for both of them. I’ve had them for four years. I’ll miss them.”

HOMETOWN KID … Brendan McCourt (516.45), from Emmaus, took the championship at his home pool in the 3A competition.

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