Maplewood Manta Rays end season on high note

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MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The Maplewood Manta Rays enjoyed a five-meet season and placed third in championships with the Tri-County Diving League this year. Thunderstorms and inclement weather couldn’t keep this team down! Ben Doubek, new head diving coach, along with assistant coaches, led the Maplewood Manta Rays through a successful season.

Season highlights include three first-place winners — Ben Doubek, Quinn Ruhl and Isaac Ortiz — and a third-place winner — Melinda Lituchy. All of the divers’ hard work and practice paid off as they headed to their last meet against Nomahegan Swim Club in Westfield. Their final meet produced several winners, resulting in first-place ribbons being awarded to Doubek, Quinn Ruhl, Toby Garritano and Larkin Villatoro. Second-place ribbons were awarded to Lituchy, Devin Brown, Tai Artis, Charlotte “Charlie” Keenan and Vaughn Ruhl. Finally, third-place ribbons were awarded to Lucy Hummel and Luke Shamburg.

Over the season, the team won two hard-fought meets against very competitive teams. All of the Manta Ray divers improved immensely over the course of the season, and the hard work embodied by this young team bodes well for next year’s competitions.

Off the boards, the divers raised $435 at a dive-a-thon held at the Maplewood Community Pool, which benefited Saint Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center. The Manta Rays team dove for two hours straight to raise the donations.

“The dive team puts in so many early morning hours at the tank, and listening to them motivate each other is a great example of teamwork,” Maplewood Director of Recreation and Community Affairs Melissa Mancuso said. “We owe a great deal of thanks to the parents that get their children here ready to dive as well as assist at meets, as well as our coaches who keep everyone safe and motivated. A special thank you to Ses Spinelli for stepping up and facilitating the 2018 season. Ses spent hours organizing rosters, ordering wardrobe, and helping schedule practices and meets. Watching the competitions reminds us all of the confidence and bravery necessary for diving. We look forward to next season and a growing Manta Rays team.”

Photos Courtesy of Melissa Mancuso