EMMAUS - For the last three years, Dane DeWire waited his turn at the District 11 Class AA Diving Championship.
After taking one step onto the medal stand last season with a bronze medal, the Tamaqua senior finally earned the right to take two steps to the top of the medal stand by winning his first-ever district gold medal on Saturday.
DeWire also earned the golden opportunity to extend his highly decorated final high school campaign a the PIAA State Diving Championship on March 17th.
"The last two years, I was up against very good divers. They prevented me from getting that gold medal as well as be able to go to states," DeWire said. "Now that they're gone, I had to step it up and take advantage of the opportunity. I knew that it was going to be me this year – the one taking home the gold.
"I came out here and did my best today. I thought it would be awesome to one day be a good diver and today it happened."
DeWire wasn't just a good diver on Saturday. This year' Schuylkill League diving champion was the best diver as he was also named the 2011 Dennis McGinley Award recipient. DeWire earned 451.60 points on his 11 dives, topping Parkland's Greg Kemper (429.45) the Class AAA and Lehigh Valley Conference champion,
"For that to happen, it was the icing on the cake," said Tamaqua coach Eric Lech, of DeWire being named the meet MVP. "He knew he had a very good shot of being the AA titleist today. But, to come out here and beat everybody in the field was definitely a great feeling for him. It just adds to his confidence heading into states."
DeWire led Allentown Central Catholic's Nick Crouse and Schuylkill Haven's Jackson Fleagle by only 35.35 points after five dives. Then, after three more dives, DeWire was able to push his lead to 63.3 points entering the final three dives.
DeWire won by even more of a cushion - 86.15 points – over Crouse, who didn't even medal at the Lehigh Valley Conference championship, to grab that gold medal. He beat third-place finisher Fleagle by 193.15 points. When asked why he was able to pull away so much, DeWire said it was a part of his strategy going into the meet.
"My coach and I put my worst dives in the beginning of the meet to get them over with," DeWire said. "If I do bad with them, I could recuperate on the next few dives. Or, if I did well with them, I knew I could go on from there.
"Since they aren't my best dives at first, I'm getting around the same score as everybody else. But when I get into my better dives with higher degree of difficulty, that's where I'm able to pull away. That's what I was able to do today."
After watching DeWire step to the top of the podium with a huge smile on his face, Lech reflected back on his career.
"He definitely wanted it today," Lech said. "He has shown great improvement from his freshman year till now. He has put a lot of time and effort in. Dane isn't one that just comes and does what he has to do to get the job done. He does the extra things to become a better diver. He definitely earned his right today."
And, in doing so, DeWire gave his Tamaqua Blue Raiders swim team a 20-point cushion heading into this weekend's District 11 Class AA Swimming Championships at Parkland High School.