Dixie Hollins diver first Rebel to represent at state meet

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When McKenna O'Reilly dove into her new sport a year ago, the humble Dixie Hollins High School junior had no idea how fast she'd pick it up. 

"I mean, there's always room for improvement, but I'd say I'm pretty good my stage of the game," she said. 

Previously, McKenna had spent 10 years competing in gymnastics. Luckily, much of what she learned in that decade transferred over to diving. 

"A lot of the conditioning from gymnastics and the drills that we did helped with kinesthetics that apply in diving," she explained. "It's just the self-awareness when you're in the air." 

Sticking a landing and executing a dive, McKenna says, have more in common than some might think. 

"If you land right, then it's a good feeling," she said. "If you don't do the dive quite right, then it kind of hurts a little." 

McKenna's diving coach, Bill Walker, has been there every step of the way. Already he says, McKenna could take on diving at the next level. 

"The word is coachable," he said. "And she is very coachable." 

Walker says there weren't many growing pains. McKenna made a splash almost immediately. 

"She worked, oh maybe a month or so, with doing almost no dives, just doing board work, learning how to use a diving board," explained Walker. "Then we gradually moved into dives and then she accelerated very quickly into the upper level dives that have gotten her to where she is now." 

The former gymnast heads to her first state meet this weekend. McKenna is also the first diver to represent her school. 

"They only take 24," said Walker. "Out of the entire state she is seated at 16, which means from the region meet, she placed the 16th highest score in the state to qualify for the state meet." 

"It's pretty cool," McKenna said. "It's a pleasure to represent Dixie as the first diver. That's a pretty cool feeling."