HVA teams 2nd

FHS’s Schneider again near top in state diving

KNOXVILLE — Hardin Valley Academy swimming and diving teams reached another milestone last weekend in Allan Jones Aquatic Center on the UT campus, with an overall runner-up state finish [girls and boys teams combined] to go with the girls team also finishing second.

“I’m really happy with the team. I think that we have a lot of younger girls and they really stepped up this year. I was really proud of them for that,” said senior Erica Laning, who for the second straight season won the state crown in 500-yard freestyle during Tennessee State High School Swimming & Diving Championships Saturday night, Feb. 11.

Laning also served as final leg on the Hawks’ other state championship winner, the 200-free relay with teammates Emily Aycock, a sophomore, and freshmen Rachel Aycock and Ashley Catchpole.

“We figured we had a good chance. We were going into that race first overall [in qualifying],” Emily Aycock, the first leg, said.

Larry Hough, Hawks head coach, was named Tennessee State High School Swimming & Diving Women’s Coach of the Year.

“They were fantastic,” Hough said about his girls and boys teams. “I think we had great depth on our girls side, we’ve had that all year.

“And our boys scoring some points to help us compete in the [combined] team competition was really huge for that part of the program,” Hough added. “Obviously this is the best season that we’ve had.”

For Farragut senior diver Lillian Schneider, however, it was a matter of maintaining her career of excellence during this year’s state meet.

Though Schneider has never gotten over the hump and beaten friend and rival Emily Bretscher of L & N STEM Academy, a senior who won her third consecutive 1-meter diving state title Saturday night, the Admirals senior finished third. Schneider twice earned state runner-up honors behind Bretscher as a sophomore and junior after her fourth-place finish as a freshman.

“I’m proud of myself, but I know I definitely could have done better today,” said Schneider, who will attend The University of Tennessee as a walk-on diver.

A gymnast-turned-diver her freshman year at FHS, “It was hard getting used to landing on my head rather than my feet,” Schneider, 18, said.

About her rivalry and friendship with Bretscher, Schneider said, “She’s one of my [Tennessee Diving Club] teammates so I practice next to her every day. And it’s been a real joy working next to her and getting better with her. She’s been a good challenge for me, to test my limits, and get better.”

“She definitely gives me the motivation to want to do better.”