Four years ago, Ethan Merritt took up diving as a San Luis Obispo High freshman after spending much of his youth as a gymnast.
A wrist injury forced Merritt to look for another outlet for his athleticism and diving filled the gap.
“It’s one of those things where I was kinda glad he got hurt so he’d come out for diving,” San Luis Obispo coach Rick Ernstrom said jokingly. “All these kids doing well were gymnasts first.”
Just four short years after he began, Merritt became San Luis Obispo’s first individual CIF-Southern Section champion since 1992 after winning the Division 2 diving title Tuesday in Fullerton.
Merritt’s score of 502.40 points, also a school record, beat runner-up Daniel Kelley of Arroyo Grande by more than 50 points. Merritt had been runner-up the past two years.
“He has worked really hard in the offseason going to camps clear over in Texas where they dive all day,” Ernstrom said. “His goal was to win league and win CIF.”
In all, five of the top 10 divers came from schools in the PAC 7.
Colby Thompson of Paso Robles finished fifth with 381.20 points, while Devon Nicklas (Paso Robles, 316.65) was seventh and Austin Miller (Atascadero, 305.75) was ninth.
Merritt’s sister, Tessa, was sixth on the girls side after scoring 457.30.
Atascadero’s Alysa Floerky finished ninth with 367.10 points.
Annika Lenz of Pasadena Poly won the girls title with a score of 562.20.————
Golden Valley 3, Arroyo Grande 2
Despite winning the first two games, the Eagles (10-5) couldn’t come back to beat Golden Valley in their 24-26, 30-32, 25-14, 25-14, 15-12 loss in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 playoffs.
Sean Reed had 12 kills for the Eagles, Christian Wiens added 28 assists and Derek Johnson had seven kills.
“The team worked very hard throughout the season and we really improved and I am very proud of my team,” Arroyo Grande coach Laurel Allen said.
Bullard 3, Mission Prep 0
The Royals were eliminated from the CIF-Central Section Division I playoffs with a 25-17, 25-14, 25-15 loss.
Chris Salvini had a team-high seven kills and three digs, while Quinn Tanner added two blocks.
Sean Robinson had a team-high 18 assists for Mission Prep (7-9).
San Luis Obispo 4, Arroyo Grande 0
David Murillo shut out the Eagles, giving up five hits with five strikeouts for the Tigers (13-11-1, 10-6 PAC 7).
Murillo also hit a three-run home run, his third of the season, in the fifth inning, and teammate Conor Mulvaney was 2 for 4.
Nipomo 4, Atascadero 3
Marc Baker had nine strikeouts and gave up seven hits in Nipomo’s win over visiting Atascadero.
Jeff McNeil was 3 for 4 with two RBI for the Titans (12-12, 6-10 PAC 7), and Joe Gutshall was 2 for 3 with one RBI.
Morro Bay 8, Santa Maria 6
Cody Brindley had a double and struck out five for Morro Bay (5-17, 2-9 LPL).
Tyler Duclos added a double for the Pirates, and Keith Evans and Tyler Lee each had two hits.
Lompoc 9, Templeton 6
Tyler Coleman was 2 for 3 with a three-run homer for Templeton, which was looking for revenge after a 30-4 drubbing to Lompoc earlier this season.
Alex Kotheimer had three hits, while Daniel Wheeler added a two-run homer for the Eagles (6-13, 2-9 LPL).
“It was a pretty good turnaround versus what we did last time we played,” Templeton coach Brad Macomber said.
Santa Ynez 11, Mission Prep 7
Despite Matt Howell’s three-run home run in the fifth inning, Mission Prep (11-13) couldn’t get the win over Santa Ynez.
Mission Prep’s Kevin Laird hit a two-run home run, his second of the season, and was 3 for 4, while teammate Elijah Balaban was 2 for 4.
North County Christian 16, Cuyama Valley 0
Taylor Brard struck out eight and gave up two hits for North County Christian (15-0, 11-0 CVL).
Caleb Katches was 3 for 3 with three RBI for the Crusaders, and Daniel Katches was 2 for 2 with one RBI.
Keelan Willison was 2 for 2 for North County Christian with a double.
Coast Union 11, Shandon 1
Stu Mahoney was 2 for 3 with a triple and two RBI in Coast Union’s win over Shandon.
Andy Gordon had 11 strikeouts for Coast Union (6-10).
Atascadero 16, Rio Mesa 2
Fresh of their doubles title at the PAC 7 finals, Devin and Kyle Barber each swept three singles sets to lead Atascadero to a first-round CIF-Southern Section Division 2 win.
Austin Alexander won his only singles set, a 7-6 (6) win over Rio Mesa’s No. 1 singles player.
The Greyhounds (10-5) didn’t drop a doubles set as Aaron Bickel and Connor Sima swept, as did the team of Brandon Baldovin and Wesley Gillette.
Atascadero will play at Valencia today.
Alhambra 17, Templeton 1
Austin Harrington won the only set for Templeton, which was eliminated from the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 playoffs.
Atascadero 7, Nipomo 1
Marissa McClain and Ashley Dooley were each 2 for 3 with two RBI for Atascadero (22-5, 10-1 PAC 7).
Brigit Godfrey was 2 for 3 for the Greyhounds, and Jessie Hufstetler had four strikeouts and gave up three hits.
Tessa Underwood had a triple for Nipomo (8-15, 2-9).
Courtney Cuzick scored Nipomo’s only run in the fourth inning.
San Luis Obispo 1, Pioneer Valley 0
San Luis Obispo pitcher Andrea Reynolds took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before giving up a one-out single.
The Tigers broke the scoreless tie in the final frame after Kerri Jacobs-Kelley singled and eventually scored on a Jessica Ybarra walkoff hit.
Reynolds allowed just the one hit while striking out six to get the win. She also added one of San Luis Obispo’s five hits.
Paso Robles 2, Arroyo Grande 1
Amanda Searcy helped the Bearcats (13-12, 7-4) clinch second place in the PAC 7 with a walk-off homer to lead off the bottom of the seventh inning.
Searcy also pitched four innings, allowing no runs on one hit with six strikeouts.
Jill Compton started for Arroyo Grande (14-11, 5-6), allowing no runs in five innings.
Casey Craig was 2 for 3 with a double for the Eagles, and Jesyca Danylo had a triple.
Morro Bay 13, Santa Maria 2
Karly Alfirevic hit a solo home run in the fifth inning for Morro Bay (12-15, 7-4 LPL).
Alfirevic was also 3 for 4 with four RBI and struck out four in two relief innings.
North County Christian 25, Cuyama Valley 2
Kelsey Paulus picked up the win for North County Christian (12-4, 10-4 LPL), striking out 12 in five innings.
The Crusaders’ Mackenzie Ricks was 2 for 3 with an RBI, and Cheyenne Ricks was 2 for 2 with five RBI.
Jessica Foldberg was 2 for 3 with two RBI for North County Christian, and Leanne Villalba was 2 for 5 with five RBI and one double.
Santa Ynez 5, Mission Prep 1
Ally Kersthold had a double for Mission Prep (8-6).