School: Holy Redeemer
’Event: Girls diving
All in the Family: Kelsey, 17, is the daughter of Dan and Kim Williams of Hanover Twp. Her sister Riley, a freshman at Holy Redeemer, joined Kelsey in competition at the PIAA Class 2A Diving championships and their 13-year-old sister Lindsey is a swimmer in the Wilkes-Barre CYC program.
Stats: In her first and only state appearance, Williams - who set a new school record for diving points three times in four weeks during the regular season - accumulated 399.50 points through 11 dives at the PIAA championships Wednesday to earn a silver medal and bring long-time retiring area diving coach Rob Jacobs his highest-ever finish at the state tournament.
Nailing it: A strong start in her preliminary round boosted Kelsey into second place entering the state semifinals, and she was just seven points off the lead entering the final round of her last three dives. She scored a 37.95 on a beautiful backward somersault, 1 1/2 twister to move within 1.5 points of the leader, then nailed a breath-taking triple somersault tuck with a score of 39.60. She was 2.2 points away from eventual gold medalist McKenzie Stelter of Mohawk entering the final dive, but her score of 30.80 on that required state dive - and inward tuck - reflected the dive’s little degree of difficulty. Still, her score wound up just 7.2 points away from a gold medal, and left Kelsey shining with a silver - and the highest state finish by a Wyoming Valley Conference swimmer or diver in this year’s state meet.
Coach’s corner: “She had a real mental issue last year,” said diving coach Rob Jacobs, who guided Wyoming Valley West’s divers for the past nine years and served as Redeemer’s diving coach this season. “She wasn’t even in the same ballpark as some of these girls. She had a lot of fears. That 1 1/2 with a full twist, she never even thought about doing that dive. It takes a lot of work. She said, ‘This is my only time at states. I’ve got to make it count.’ “
Did you know? If it seems as if the stars lined up almost perfectly to put Kelsey on top of the world during a state championship performance that seemed like a dream to her, maybe they did. She’s extremely interested in astronomy, studying space and the universe, a passion she plans to continue as she considers college programs to dive for next year.
From her angle: “I couldn’t believe it,” Williams said of her second-place spot on the state medal stand. “It just didn’t seem real. At the same time, I was really happy. I went into that meet not knowing too much about the other divers, not knowing what to expect. I thought I was way ahead of myself and definitely couldn’t stand up against the competition. I didn’t really know until the last three dives I was close (to winning). I think I did great on about all my dives.
Week in review: The Holy Redeemer girls basketball team suffered a tough 44-40 second-round state loss to Villa Maria, but that didn’t stop Alexis Lewis fron shining. She finished Wednesday night with 13 points, 13 rebounds, five steals, three assists and two blocks. … Lake-Lehman’s Matthew Edkins earned the WVC’s only boys top-three finish at states, scoring 407.350 to bring home a bronze medal in Class 2A boys diving. … Wyoming Valley West’s Collin Vest pulled off one of the most dramatic rallies of last week’s PIAA Swimming and Diving championships by just getting to the medal stand. Threatened with being left out of Saturday’s semifinal round, Vest pulled down a rare score of 60 on his final dive of the preliminary round to advance, then passed three competitors on his final two dives to earn a seventh-place PIAA Class 3A boys diving medal. … Vest’s school mate, Spartans’ super sophomore Ed Zawatski, earned himself a new nickname and his first state medal. “Fast Eddie” set a new school record by sprinting to a new school-record time of 20.92 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle, earning fifth place in the boys Class 3A competition Friday. … Dallas’ Brian Stepniak may fancy himself as an artist on the pitcher’s mound, but he really hit the corners as the WVC’s only three-time medalist in the state swim meet. Stepniak finished sixth in the 50 freestyle, seventh in the 100 free and helped the Mountaineers’ 200 free relay team finish seventh in boys Class 2A competition. He nearly made it a 4-for-4 weekend when it comes to medals, but Dallas’ 400 free relay team just missed the finals cut and wound up ninth in the state. … His Dallas teammate Marcus Wagner, who also swam on that 200 free relay team, was part of three consolation state runs in Class 2A and set a school record swimming the 500 freestyle. … Tunkhannock’s Ben Spencer swam away with two state medals for finishing fifth in the Class 2A boys 200 IM and sixth in the 100 backstroke.