Farmingdale’s Lauren Mehta already solidified her spot in the girls diving state championships prior to Wednesday night’s county championship at the Nassau County Aquatic Center, but there was still plenty of incentive to perform at her highest level.
Mehta had the opportunity to capture the Nassau diving title, an accolade that has eluded her the previous two seasons.
“I always try to do better than I did in my previous meets. I want to continue to progress and not go backward," Mehta said. It was a goal of mine this whole season to finish first at counties. Everything I worked up to until now is really paying off."
Mehta won the event with a personal-best score of 486.15 for her 11 dives. It was a major accomplishment for the junior, after finishing seventh in 2017 (329.80) and second last year (481.25).
“I wanted to focus on really nailing my voluntary dives,” Mehta said. "I was so nervous my first time here that I was going to get cut, but now I know it’s just fun.”
Mehta qualified for the state tournament at the Jericho Invitational Oct. 5 when she amassed a score of 464.00. A score of 440 is required to reach the state championships that will be held Friday, Nov. 22 through Saturday, Nov. 23 at Ithaca College.
“I know I had a few bumps in the road on my dives last year at states, but I was able to finish 18th,” Mehta said. “This year I am striving to finish in the top 10.”
Eighth-grader Rachel Yang, who attends Jericho Middle School and dives for the Jericho varsity team, finished second (458.50) and Bethpage’s Macayla Hodkinson was third (396.10).
Like Mehta, Yang previously qualified for the state diving championships at the Jericho Invitational with a score of 467.75.
During the summer, she spent two months training in China with the Chinese National team working on her craft.
“Every year I go over there to train because they have better facilities than we do here,” Yang said. “I don’t’ really get to do much during the summer except train there, but I had a lot of fun."