Sport: Boys Swimming and Diving
All in the Family: Matthew is the son of Chuck and Nancy Edkins of Sweet Valley. His mom is the Lake-Lehman varsity swimming coach, but they’re the only two swimmers in a family of soccer players. His brother Chris is currently a member of Misericordia University’s soccer team, while his older sisters Katy (who also attended Misericordia) and Betsy (who went to St. John Fisher) both played soccer in college.
Statistically speaking: Edkins not only bested a field of 60 boys to win the District 2 Class 2A diving championship over the weekend, he broke a 10-year-old district record in the process. His total score of 483.55 topped the old District 2 Class 2A mark set by Dallas’ Alaric Eby — who went on to win the state championship in 2004. It was the third straight district gold medal for Edkins, who took home a sixth-place PIAA medal as a freshman and captured a bronze medal at states last season — and who has his eye on an even bigger prize when this year’s state competition opens March 12 at Bucknell University.
Nailing it: With one dive, an inward 1 1/2, Edkins wowed the district judges, picked up 55 points and awed the Lehman coaching staff. But it was his fifth dive of the day that left Edkins most proud. On that one, he pulled out a dive that was absent from his repetoire during past seasons — a back 1 1/2 somersault with 1 1/2 twists. “I just learned it this year,” Edkins said. And don’t be shocked if he darts off the diving board with another new move at states. “That’s what I’m working on,” Edkins said, “a reverse and half-pike.”
Coach’s Corner: “I knew he was capable of it,” Edkins’ long-time diving coach Erin Yurko said of attaining a new district mark. “But I wasn’t quite sure what the record was at. I knew once his score was totaled, he would have been close. We were really excited about that, because Alaric Eby was such a good diver. He (Edkins) is a dedicated athlete, hard worker and he is extremely consistent. He hit every one of his dives (at districts) and stayed calm. It was a good start and a help to getting ready for states.”
Did you know? During the summer months, Edkins serves as a diving clinic coach for the beginners and intermediate age groups with the Back Mountain Dive Club at the Dallas Middle School. Edkins coaches up to 10 kids in each age group in a program he once participated in before entering high school. Maybe his students will be more willing to listen to a district record holder now. “I definitely hope so,” Edkins laughed. “The kids are usually pretty good. We do our best.”
From his angle: “It meant so much. I was so excited,” Edkins said of reaching new heights in district competition, insisting that winning a district titles never gets old for him. “I always go in knowing my competition is just as good as me. I always focus on doing my best. I’m just focusing on states this year, doing as well as I can next year at districts and hopefully making it to states again next year.”
Week in review: Next year, Edkins will have a chance to do something his Lake-Lehman schoolmate just accomplished. Black Knights senior wrestler Austin Harry became a four-time District 2 Class 2A champion when he recorded a major decision over Wyoming Area’s tough freshman Kenny Beyer, 13-5 in the district 132-pound gold medal match. At the same time, Harry picked up the 150th victory of his illustrious career at Lehman, making his final district championship extra special. And in another crowning moment, it helped Lehman edge Meyers by two points for the team title. Also helping the Black Knights achieve that feat were gold-medal winners Derek Dragon, who picked up a third-period pin to win the 170-pound title match; Brady Butler, who also recorded a major decision at 182; and Bobby Wright, who won the 160-pound championship. Wyoming Valley West won the Class 3A team title, riding a trio of top finishes by guys who’d never won district championships before. Alex Tirko sparked the Spartans with a major decision at 113, Nathan Cheek captured the 145-pound title bout and Cody Cordes fought for a 2-1 decision at 160. Also in Class 3A, a couple of Coughlin athletes upended No. 1 seeds to win gold medals, as Bobby Hawkins at 126 and Billy Poray at 138 both came away with decisions in their gold-medal matches. The surprising season of Saul Wilkins continued on to regionals after GAR’s first-year wrestler pinned his way to a gold medal in the Class 2A district title match. The Grenadiers also celebrated gold medals with a pin from A.J. Luton at 113 and a technical fall by Wilkins’ best friend Zac Faust at 220. No surprise at 285 in Class 3A, where Dallas’ Ryan Monk picked up a pair of pins — in 15 and then 20 seconds — in the first two championship rounds and recorded a pin 49 seconds into overtime of the title bout. And Nanticoke’s Krystal Danielle became the first girl to crack the boys club and take home a District 2 Class 2A wrestling medal. She reached the medal rounds on a forfeit, and finished fifth. …
Allie Barber wasn’t about to let Pittston Area’s girls basketball season finish just yet. She came through in the clutch for the Patriots, drawing a foul with a drive to the basket and then cooly converting two free throws — the second following a timeout to ice her — with four seconds to play while lifting Pittston Area to a 32-31 victory over North Pocono in the District 2 Class 3A quarterfinals. That completed Pittston Area’s five-point comeback in the game’s final three minutes, but it all started when Liz Waleski hit a jumper to crack a scoring drought that lasted nearly nine minutes for the Patriots. That shot, and Barber’s bucket in the third quarter, were the only two baskets Pittston Area scored in the second half. Meyers star Quieterrius Gross wasn’t around for most of the second half after suffering a knee injury in the team’s District 2 Class 3A playoff opener against Nanticoke, but her sister Quinniea Gross stepped up with 25 points to lead the Mohawks to victory. Alexis Lewis had the Holy Redeemer Royals rolling into the Class 3A district semifinals, scoring 35 points with 12 steals and 11 rebounds — a triple double — in an opening-round victory over Wyoming Area and then putting up 19 points to fuel a quarterfinal win over Meyers. Hanover Area’s Hayley Bobos continued her late-season scoring tear, putting up 23 points in a three-point Class 2A district quarterfinal victory over GAR. The top-seeded Hawkeyes needed all of them, because GAR’s Brea Seabrook pulled down 19 rebounds in that game and was just a tick too late with a half-court three-pointer that would have evened the score if the final horn didn’t sound just before she released it. Lake-Lehman’s Cayle Spencer released 23 points on Honesdale, although it wasn’t enough to advance the Black Knights past the opening round of Class 3A districts. And Crestwood’s Maddie Ritsick got the Comets off to a strong district start with 22 points in a victory over West Scranton, before Crestwood’s season closed in the semifinals against Abington Heights. …
There was no closing down Pittston Area’s Mason Gross. Pittston Area’s main man inside scored 25 points in the Patriots’ District 2 Class 3A opening round boys basketball victory over Tunkhannock, then followed with a 17-point night as Pittston Area upset Crestwood in the quarterfinals. Dallas’ Chad DeBona displayed a flair for dramatics, as his three-point goal with little more than a minute remaining put away Dallas 57-56 and made the Mountaineers the first No. 11 seed to win a first-round game in the District 2 Class 3A tournament. The Mountaineers had to overcome a game-high 20 points by Holy Redeemer’s Lenny Radziak. Hazleton Area’s sharp-shooting guard Sal Biasi warmed up for the district playoffs with 27 points in a Wyoming Valley Conference Division I title loss to Crestwood, then dominated Delaware Valley with 24 points in a District 2 Class 4A quarterfinal victory. The Cougars also got a 23-point game from Brett Barron in that district playoff-opening victory. Cole Wasco got Crestwood off to a good start in districts, swishing five three-pointers in an opening-round Class 3A victory over Coughlin. GAR’s Isaiah Francis went full-speed into the postseason, putting up 24 points and pulling down 10 rebounds in a Class 3A district-opening victory over Dallas. Hanover Area’s Jake Barber scored 19 points, including his career 1,000th, as the Hawkeyes opened District 2 Class 3A play by beating Nanticoke, then Barber added a game-high 17 points in a quarterfinal round loss to Meyers. Nanticoke’s Mike Malshefski made sure the Trojans finished the regular season strong by scoring 29 points in a victory over Lake-Lehman.