East Penn Press

Thursday, March 21, 2019
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZBrendan McCourt and the Emmaus divers could be a big part of the Hornets’ success this season. PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZBrendan McCourt and the Emmaus divers could be a big part of the Hornets’ success this season.

Hornet swim teams start 2-0

Monday, December 24, 2018 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

The Emmaus boys and girls swimming and diving teams are both off to a 2-0 start to the season with wins over Whitehall and Liberty. One of the things that jumps out is the performance of the diving squad, which is seeing a resurgence.

In the win over Liberty, the girls captured three of the top five spots, while the boy swept the top three spots against the Hurricanes.

Finishing at the top of the boys diving was junior Brendan McCourt, who finished with 297.55 points. Kyle Ryan finished second and James Mont was third for Emmaus. On the girls side, Morgan Belisle finished second, just ahead of teammate Abby Barnes, with Audrey Davidson coming in fifth in the meet.

Prior to the season, coach Tim O’Connor was looking forward to seeing just how good the diving team was going to be. For many years, the team wasn’t able to find many divers and rarely had a full squad to compete. Things have changed with the emergence of former girls diver Jess Hurlburt and boys diver Andrew Vanim, who both performed well at states for Emmaus. McCourt overlapped the two divers and is now leading the team and looking to help the younger divers improve.

“I think it’s going to be great to see these kids compete,” said O’Connor. “Frank [Donnelly] has done a great job with them and he’s got them working hard and really believing in what they can accomplish and it’s really showing.”

For his part, McCourt is also excited about the season. McCourt took gold in last season’s District 11 championship and didn’t let up at all on his practice during the offseason. He spent the time literally working on every dive in his arsenal in hopes of repeating at districts later in the year. As for the team, he’s been impressed by the new divers and how quickly they’ve improved.

“The two freshmen [Belisle and Audrey Davidson] have been diving for only about a month and I have seen instant progress from them. On the guys team, they have all been stepping up and we’re going to have a really good team this year.”

In addition to the freshmen, Barnes is only a sophomore. On the boys side, Ryan is also only a sophomore, as are Doug Fair and Greg Navarre, who didn’t compete against Liberty. Mont and Drew Stenger are seniors. Donnelly has the advantage of being able to mix and match with his male divers because of the quantity of divers that he has, which is an unusual luxury for Emmaus.

While repeating in districts would be nice, for McCourt, the goal is to advance in the state competition where he finished seventh last March. He’s hoping to return to states at the end of this season and move up among the competitors.

“I’ve been training all year round and I’m ready. I worked specifically on my entries and my entire list of dives. You can always do something better,” said McCourt. “I’m definitely looking toward states and adding new dives. I’m basically just looking to be a better diver than I am right now.”

Against Liberty, the boys team took a 127-58 win while the girls scored a 110-76 victory.