July 11, 2008

Dive into Victory: Summers-Port Divers, Swimmers Cruise Past Host Wedgwood

By Pete Hayes, The Telegraph, Alton, Ill.

Jul. 11--FLORISSANT -- Members of the Summers-Port dive team take a back seat to no one these days -- including their swimming cousins.

The Summers-Port Sharks divers rolled to a 37-26 victory over Wedgwood on Thursday in a Southwestern Illinois Swim Association dual meet. It was part of an easy double-dip. The S-P swimmers also won going away, 477-114. The swim meet ran late into the night. Complete individual swim results were not available at press time, but readers can go to www.

thetelegraph.com for final stats.

"I'm really happy with the way the team dived tonight," Summers-Port dive coach Jessie Miller said. "It's a really good group to work with."

The victory was the second dual win of the season for the Sharks divers. They have one dual remaining next week against Paddlers of Granite City. Saturday, they will take part in the Sunset Hills Dive Invitational Meet in Edwardsville.

The Summers-Port divers look to be the big ducks in the pond these days, but according to Miller, that pond has been shrinking in recent seasons.

"(Diving) is kind of shrinking in SWISA," Miller said. "Two teams (Waterworks and Gaslight/Splash City) don't have teams and most of the other teams are smaller than they used to be."

Such isn't the case with Summers-Port, however. Just like their counterparts on the swim team, the numbers aren't a problem.

"We've got 35 divers," Miller said. "That's a little larger than last year."

Summers-Port is the defending SWISA champion, but just two seasons ago, they were edged by Paddlers of Granite City for the SWISA Championship Meet crown. This season, even the Paddlers team is smaller than in previous seasons.

Not that Summers-Port couldn't use a few more in specific age groups, especially 13-14 and 15-18 boys. Defending SWISA 15-18 boys champion Christopher Lindsay elected not to compete this summer, diminishing the numbers in two already depleted age groups. Undaunted, Miller hit the recruiting path -- to the Sharks' Godfrey pool.

"I even went out and watched some kids in the afternoons at (Summers-Port's) pool," Miller said. "I was looking for kids who might have potential."

Thursday at Wedgwood, the Sharks got first-place finishes from Amber Sorgea (15-18 girls) with 177.95 points, Emma Franklin (113-14 girls) with 147.25 points, Donetta Sandidge (11-12 girls) with 89 points, Meredith Walters (8 and under girls)with 30.15 points and Caden Akal (8 and under boys) with 37.05 points. Summers-Port also had strong performances by several divers who were competing under exhibition status and thus earned no team points.

Sorgea, who dives year-round with a club that trains at Washington University in St. Louis, also works as Miller's assistant coach.

"Amber's great," Miller said. "She's a lot of help with the younger kids and she's a very good diver, too. She's very serious about it."

Besides Sorgea, other team leaders according to Miller include Andrea Hentrich, 13, Natalie Macias 913, Emily Estes, 13, Emma Franklin , 14, Rachel Williams, 12, Matt Monroe, 11, Cole Akal, 8, and Caden Akal, 7.

"Emma and Rachel did very well tonight," Miller said. "But they were diving exhibition."

Going the exhibition route is one familiar to both Miller and her counterpart, swim coach Nancy Miller. The Sharks have so many more athletes than the opposition, some have to dive exhibition just to get a chance to dive in each meet.

"Hopefully, diving will grow," Miller said. "There's more interest this summer, maybe because of the Olympics, but numbers aren't a problem for us anyway. I just hope the other teams can get more divers."


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