As an early start to the high school diving season loomed, a hand injury and limited pool access threatened to derail Patricia Arceri’s preparations for the championship period now approaching.
But the Huntington junior jumped right in, first practicing at a pool with a wooden diving board and then back at her regular pool, going straight to difficult dives when it would’ve been acceptable for her to start slowly. It paid off with a victory at the 11-dive Suffolk invitational on Monday with a score of 506.80, qualifying her for the state championship Nov. 18 in Ithaca.
“It just made me work harder and motivate me more,” Arceri said. “It was a little difficult getting back into the season, but I’m right back where I was.”
This is the second consecutive year Arceri has won the invitational, which is one of two chances to qualify for the state meet, along with the county championship. It’s the only time to see the divers who will be competing against each other down the line face off in one day with the same judges tallying the scores. But before Arceri could get there, she had to get up to speed with her top dives.
“She knew that she had to,” coach Meg McConnell said. “You can’t laze around. If you have set the goal of again going to states and hopefully being on the top of that platform, you have to do that right from the start no problem.”
Arceri has seen success up close before, by watching her sister Molly, who won three consecutive county diving championships from 2009-11, was runner-up for the state title in 2011 and dived for Towson University. McConnell has worked with both and said Molly was more outgoing, but Patricia more calculating.
“She really thinks about things from an intelligence standpoint in terms of how her body works in relation to how the dive needs to happen,” McConnell said. “She’s very good continually on doing things, dry land prepping before every single dive.”
Arceri’s focus comes in handy when competing at the big meets against other top competition like Lindenhurst’s Grace Reeves. She said she pays more attention to beating her scores and aiming for her goals, which is what she’ll have to do to find a place on the podium at her third state championship.
“I’m going to keep working hard just to keep developing and maybe get new dives and stuff for counties, but I still don’t really feel that much pressure,” Arceri said. “I’m just going to do what I do every day — dive.”