Ryan Savit of Half Hollow Hills East prepares to spring...

Ryan Savit of Half Hollow Hills East prepares to spring into the air during the diving portion of the NYSPHSAA varsity boys swimming state championships held at Nassau Aquatic Center. He finished third in the federation with an 11-dive score of 498.90. (March 5, 2011) Credit: James Escher

It's an unusual position for Ryan Savit. In the jungle of high school diving, Half Hollow Hills' Savit is almost exclusively the hunted.

From his calm approaches to his textbook twists and only slightly splash-filled finishes, Savit has carved out a niche on Long Island as the top dog.

Saturday at Nassau Aquatic Center, Savit played the role of hunter.

And though he didn't quite catch his prey, he didn't come home empty-handed, either, finishing third at the Federation state diving championships with a score of 498.90.

Albany Academy's Manny Pollard took first with 543.35 and Brighton's Devin Zdanowski placed second with 500.85.

Savit scored more than 50 points in four of his dives, and posted a high score of 63.60 on his fourth dive. He led the field after his first, second, fifth, sixth and seventh dives.

The 2011 Suffolk champ is used to diving with just a few competitors in his stratosphere. This weekend, that pool was expanded.

"It's actually a little bit more intimidating, but that intimidation makes me more focused," Savit said.

Though Savit ended up third, he was seeded much lower heading into the finals, which had its first eight rounds Friday night and final three Saturday morning.

"You never know what diver's going to show up on any given day," he said. "I was seeded 12th in the whole state, but I had two great days and I ended up taking third."

Savit wasn't the only Long Island representative to come up big. Jericho's Jordan Bernstein took 12th with a score of 428 and Sachem East's Anthony Stefanelli finished 13th with 426.35.

"When I first got here, I was actually really scared," said Bernstein, who captured the Nassau championship this year. "When we came here, I was looking at the divers and they were all really good. The next day, I tried to focus on myself, rather than everybody else."

Bernstein, who dives at the Aquatic Center for the county championship and with his club team, also had a bit of a home-field advantage.

"Boards are different," he said. "It was more relaxing to be able to say, 'this is my home, this is my board.' Everybody else has to make the adjustment, I already did."

For Stefanelli, who placed 10th in last year's state meet, the day was about taking lessons home.

"I've been having a lot of trouble with back approaches," he said. "I take too long on the board and psych myself out."

But there's always next year to get back in the hunt.

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