nick@thepaper24-7.com

North Montgomery senior Ashlynn Bennett is this year's official Montgomery County Diver of the Year.

Each of the county coaches nominated who they thought the best potential candidates were for the honor. Bennett came out on top of a narrow margin due to ample local talent.

Though a bright future awaits, Bennett took a moment to reflect on her time at North Montgomery.

"It's definitely been a learning experience, but I've enjoyed meeting a bunch of new friends and doing it at the same time with my old friends," Bennett said. "I want to thank my coaches for putting up with me for seven years and never giving up or putting too much pressure on me."

John Walker is the head coach for the Charger girls. He said it has been a privilege to watch Bennett grow but gives all of the coaching credit to diving coach Alvin O'Neil.

"He worked closely with Bennett for four years," Walker said. "This year he got a new job and had to quit, but the conditions of his job changed and he was able to come back. That was perfect because we love our coach - he's been spectacular for North.

"I think [Bennett's] season started off fantastically," Walker continued. "She really wanted to get both of the school records, but only got one of them. She was a sectional champion and almost made it to the state finals. She was really strong at the end and did a great job."

Bennett also commented on O'Neil, saying that he was quite the motivator.

"I think he played a key role," Bennett said, jokingly adding: "Especially when I really didn't want to do anything." Bennett said he encouraged her when she was down, no matter how pessimistic she was.

The senior broke a record that has been in place for more than 30 years at North in what's known as the six-dive record, in which she almost scored the highest possible total through six straight dives.

Some of Bennett's accolades, to mention a couple, are her two 337-point scores in January and February. The former came at the Athenian Invitational on Jan. 24 with the latter being from the second day on sectionals on Feb. 7.

North Montgomery will definitely have big shoes (or flippers) to fill next season.