Springville-Griffith Institute graduates such as Olivia Emerling, Cody Schweickert, Hunter Berry, Seth Runge, Paige Willson, Audrey and Rachel Mulhisen, Troy Studd, Evan Brand and Matt Wolcott are just a few of the individuals who are representing in athletics, at the collegiate level.
Richard Pokorny, a class of 2010 Springville-GI graduate, is one of only a handful of Springville graduates who have ever competed at the Division I level, the highest level of intercollegiate athletics sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, in any sport.
Pokorny, an East Concord native, is now in his junior year and is part of the West Virginia University mens swimming team. He also dives, for his college.
During high school, Pokorny was a two-time National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association high school all-American and a four-time team most valuable player.
He holds the Springville school record in diving, with a score of 470.7. During his senior year of high school, he finished fourth, during the New York State Championships and, a few months later, took first place, at the 2010 Empire State Games in Buffalo.
“During high school, I had to practice at [the University at Buffalo] for my club team, so the distance was a major factor in the amount I could train,” Pokorny said. “Going to a school and having the facility right on campus is a major plus. I’ve become a much more mature diver. I’m performing harder dives and I’m more confident.”
Pokorny’s diving coach, Michael Grapner, said that he has seen a lot of growth in this athlete, between Pokorny’s freshman and junior years of college.
“Since Richard’s freshman year, I have seen a full transformation of a young diver, with a basic diving list, to a now an experienced diver with a competitive diving list, with a high degree of difficulty,” Grapner said.
“Richard is now performing dives to the same caliber of the nation’s elite divers,” the coach added. “It is exciting to know that Rich is still just a junior and we have another year to work with him and help him become an even better and more consistent diver.”
As a freshman Mountaineer, Pokorny qualified for the Big East Championships, in which he finished in 14th place. He also finished second, in meets against Maryland, Cincinnati and Louisville, competing in the 1-meter and 3-meter dives.
During his sophomore year, Pokorny continued to evolve as a diver, by earning All-Big East honors on the 1-meter dive. The Springville graduate was selected for this honor, due to his resume listings of first place finishes in the 1-meter and 3-meter dives, against Villinova and Cincinnati. He opened his sophomore season, by winning both events, during the West Virginia Games.
West Virginia jumped conferences this past season.
“I get to dive with the best in the country,” Pokorny said. “WVU just switched from the Big East conference to the Big 12, this season. Our schedule consists of mostly Big East teams, since most of the Big 12 schools are in the Southwest United States, but, for the conference meet in February, we will be going to Austin, Texas. Texas has one of the top programs in the country, so it will be very competitive.”
Pokorny was selected as the Big 12 diver of the week, in December, following his performance at the Miami Invitational. A few weeks later, he was given the same recognition, after he won the 1-meter and 2-meter against Texas Christian University.
“I was really honored to get the award. Coming from a small town and seeing how far I’ve come, I was proud,” Pokorny said. “It is always a major confidence booster, as well as a proud moment to represent WVU. Coming from a small town and making a name for myself at a big school like WVU is pretty neat. I couldn’t have done it without my parents’ support.”
Pokorny now has the Big East Championships and National Collegiate Athletic Association Championships in his sights. Both of those events will begin in February.
Grapner said that he is sure that Pokorny possesses the abilities to reach his goals and compete with the best of the best. “On a daily basis, Richard is a very committed diver,” the coach said. “He is truly a student of the sport. During practices, Rich is very specific about the corrections he wants to make, for his diving.
“He has a very stubborn work ethic and wants to make sure his board work is perfect, to insure a high scoring dive. Richard knows exactly what he wants from his diving, he has his goals set high and is focused on achieving those goals.”
Pokorny is pursuing a degree in pre-business and economics at West Virginia. He is the son of Sharon and Rich Pokorny of East Concord.