AOW EXTRA: Victoria Watkins, West Scranton diving

Scott Walsh, The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.
·5 min read

Mar. 1—West Scranton junior Victoria Watkins won her second straight District 2 diving title, capturing the Class 3A gold medal with a personal-best score of 413.05. She was the Class 2A champion last year.

Here is more from her Athlete of the Week interview:

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Family: Father, Jimmy; mother, Julie; sisters, Jenna, Caitlin

Other sports I play: Football cheerleading. My freshman year I did track and field, but last year it got canceled.

Athletes I admire: Greg Louganis, because at the Olympics he hit his head on the diving board and he still medaled.

Favorite food: Chicken marsala

Superstitions and rituals: Me and my coach always get Maroni's Pizza on the Friday night before districts.

Three people I'd like to have dinner with: My grandfather Robert Kusner, actress Jessica Capshaw, actor Jerry Trainor

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How tough has it been to train and practice this season? The season was cut a lot shorter because at one point there was a mask mandate and we weren't allowed in the pool. We were just doing dryland (exercises). It's definitely been difficult to get in as many practiceas we would have liked because we had back-to-back meets and snow days. What are some of the dryland exercises you do? Just running and pushups, things like that. We usually do that every other day during the week.

Were you concerned moving from Class 2A last year to Class 3A this year? In the beginning of the year I was really concerned. We were just trying to figure out what was going on. But going into the district meet, I was pretty confident. But the state meet is a whole different situation in regards to 2A and 3A. What is the biggest difference? The scores are definitely a lot higher in 3A at the state level. Locally, there really wasn't much of a difference. Just different schools although last year Tunkhannock was 2A and they were 3A this year. So last year, it was Dallas, Tunkhannock and Holy Redeemer and us. This year it was Tunkhannock, Delaware Valley, Pittston Area and us. How about learning about different competitors from the different schools? The coaches would look to see the diving results and figure out what teams were 2A and 3A, what performances they were putting out there to try to see what was going to happen at districts.

Your district-winning score was a personal best. What does that mean to you? I wasn't expecting to score higher than my score last year. At the end when my coach told me, I was like, Wow! I actually have improved a lot since last year.

Last year you qualified for states, but the meet was canceled due to the pandemic. How disappointing was that? I was very upset when they canceled states last year. It was my sophomore year and I actually had a shot at a medal because I was seeded fourth. So I was very upset, especially when they handed out medals to swimmers but couldn't give them to divers because it's opinionated scores and not just the stopwatch. Now that we're 3A, it's still upsetting but there's nothing I can do about it. I'm just grateful to be able to have a season and a state meet at all.

This year's state meet is district champions only, instead of the top two finishers qualifying. Did that put extra pressure on you for districts? I felt pretty confident going in (to districts), looking at all the scores of everyone. But there definitely was a little extra pressure to make sure I came home with the title.

How will you prepare for the state meet? I'll practice this week, then since swimming districts are Saturday and Sunday, I'm competing in them, participating in the 400 free relay. So I'll do some swimming for districts and then all next week I'll be diving every day to try to prepare for the meet.

How did you get into diving? The summer before my freshman year of high school, my mom signed me up for a diving clinic at Wyoming Valley West. She used to be a diving coach and she really badly wanted me to dive. So she signed me up and told me I was going. I did all-star cheerleading and there are some similarities, so I kind of had a background of it. I caught on pretty quickly to the basics of it.

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Post-graduation plans: I definitely want to go to college and I do want to dive. I want to go to a school like Penn State, Villanova or Pittsburgh. I feel like I want to major in biology or something science-related. I definitely want to go into the medical field.

Scott Walsh

During more than 30 years at The Times-Tribune, Scott has covered everything from high schools to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. His current beats include motor sports, local colleges, high school cross country and high school baseball. He also is a copy editor and page designer. His articles have won awards from the Associated Press Sports Editors, American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association, Eastern Motorsports Press Association, the Society of Professional Journalists Keystone Pro Chapter and the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association Keystone Press. He also has been honored by the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League and the Minor League Football Alliance. In 2016, he was presented the Media Service Award by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. A Long Island, New York, native, Scott graduated from the University of Scranton in 1986 with a bachelor's degree in communications. He lives in Peckville with his wife, Andrea, and daughters, Bridget and Emily. Contact him at swalsh@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9100, x5109; or @swalshTT on Twitter