NEWVILLE >> West York's Erica Sarver knew that club teammate Lindsey Pope had taken the lead going into the final dive of the District 3 Class AA diving championships at Big Spring High School on Wednesday.
Northeastern's Pope had been pushing the West York sophomore all night, and Sarver knew she would have to come up with a solid effort in her final dive.
After finishing second to Bri Urich of Palmyra last season, she was ready. Needing 31.25 points to catch Pope, Sarver scored 38.40 to win the championship, 387.90 to 380.75.
"I knew that we were close the whole time," Sarver said. "After my back one-and-a-half, which didn't go very well, we got close. I knew I would have to step up a little bit. She was putting the pressure on me. I think it did (help) that I saw her catching up."
Both YAIAA standouts qualified for the PIAA Class AA championships, which will be March 11 at Bucknell University.
Pope knew she passed Sarver after scoring 39.90 on her 10th dive. However, she knew the lead was less than a point, and that Sarver's final dive was a higher degree of difficulty, which typically can produce a higher score.
"I was watching the board a lot. I was thinking if I could ace this dive, I might have a chance of getting her," Pope said. "But it's always nice that she won. She's on my club team and I knew how much time she puts in."
Shannon McCabe of host Big Spring won the bronze medal with a 328.20, earning the third and final state berth.
Trinity junior Bradley Buchter smashed his own District 3 record by more than 112 points en route to his third AA title in as many years, with a score of 641.65.
Dover's Jamie Kohler placed sixth overall with 263.60 points. The junior said he enjoyed his first district experience. Of course, like everyone else, he was amazed by Buchter, who earned scores of 10 several times during the competition.
Buchter topped 70 points on two dives and topped 60 on three others.
"I can't believe he can do all of those difficult dives and hit them every time," Kohler said.
Milton Hershey's Ryan Blom was the tough-luck silver medalist. Blom's score of 449.20 was better than every AA district champion since 2005, with the exception of Buchter's first two titles in 2013-14. Big Spring's Dillon Novak (322.20) was third and will join the other two at states.
The girls' competition, of course, was much tighter.
Sarver led after one dive, but Pope took the lead after two. Sarver got the lead back on her next effort, and extended her advantage to 18.25 after four dives.
However, Pope set the trend by scoring 41 on her fifth dive, cutting Sarver's lead to 2.55 after the preliminary round.
"I am excited because it's my first time making it to districts and states," Pope said. "It's fun because you are competing against your friend. You are cheering each other on the whole time."
Over the next four dives, Sarver was able to hold the slim lead. Sarver said she would have liked to face Urich again, but Palmyra moved up to AAA this season. Still, Pope brought plenty of competition.
"I think it was more nerve-wracking for me because I had the expectation myself of trying to go for the gold because of last year," Sarver said. "I just missed it against Bri. I wanted to dive against her because she was my biggest competition last year. But then Lindsey came up, so I am happy about that. She put the pressure on me, too. That's what I needed."
District 3 Class AA Diving Championships at Big Spring
Girls — 1. Erica Sarver, West York, 387.90, 2. Lindsey Pope, Northeastern, 380.75, 3. Shannon McCabe, Big Spring, 328.20, 4. Nikki Bonner, Boiling Springs, 290.50, 5. Liz Vinarski, Trinity, 263.75, 6. Emily Hoffacker, Harrisburg Christian, 218.15, 7. Diamond Boyer, Schuylkill Valley, 193.00.
Boys — 1. Bradley Buchter, Trinity, 641.65 (district record), 2. Ryan Blom, Milton Hershey, 449.20, 3. Dillon Novak, Big Spring, 322.20, 4. Dan Laquintano, Milton Hershey, 300.10, 5. Darrin Keith, Milton Hershey, 281.00, 6. Jamie Kohler, Dover, 263.60, 7. Riley Spahr, Trinity, 212.85.