WILKES-BARRE — As a sophomore, Pittston Area’s Madi Osticco struggled to compete on a team with two experienced divers.
Osticco was entering her first year of diving after an extensive background in gymnastics. Unfortunately, her sophomore season was spent behind district champion Sierra Williams and Patriot standout Abby Norwillo. This year, Osticco took the Pittston Area diving reigns after Williams graduated and Norwillo was lost to injury.
Everything she did in the offseason paid off.
Osticco won gold at the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association District 2 Class AAA Diving Championships held on Saturday, Feb. 28 at the Wyoming Valley CYC. Osticco finished second overall to Williamsport’s Katie Cassidy in the District 2/4 subregional. The PA diver will not be advancing to the state championships as only one diver in the subregional advances.
“It feels very excting to get that opportunity to win gold,” Osticco said. “It was a lot of hard work.”
While Osticco won’t be competing in the state championships, Wyoming Area’s Joe Earl’s performance at the CYC was good enough for him to punch his ticket.
Earl dove to a total of 379 points and earned a silver medal in District 2 Class AA. Earl finished behind West Scranton’s Michael Bruno who had 407.80. The PIAA Championships will be held from Tuesday, March 15 to Friday, March 18 at the Kinney Natatorium at Bucknell University.
Earl will dive on Friday, March 18.
At the district diving event, Osticco failed to complete her first dive, striking nerves in the Pittston Area junior. She struggled on the diving board and it led an unsatisfactory score, she said. She would have to be almost pristine in her diving technique to get back in it.
In each of the next two rounds she kept moving up the leader board.
“I knew I had to work really hard on my other dives,” she said. “I had to make them near perfect. I think for the most part they were. I tried my hardest.”
She finished with 353.85 points behind Cassidy’s 394.90.
Osticco said she’s been cheering since she was 2 and has been involved with gymnastics since she was 8. As a sophomore, Osticco struggled to get any rhythm going behind Williams and Norwillo. However, she learned a lot from the diving duo and used some of those techniques at the championships.
She said diving and gymnastics, although there are a lot of twists in each, are two different things.
“My biggest thing is keeping my toes pointing before I twist,” she said.
Next year, while Cassidy is also a junior, Osticco hopes to get the top overall prize and head to the state tournament — something she said she would enjoy. When that happens, however, she’ll be contending with teammate Norwillo for the top diving spot.
“I’m just going to work all school year and try to get to the state championships,” she said. “(Cassidy) was my only competition.”
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick