FALLS TWP. – Pennsbury senior Nicole Costello came oh so close to taking the District 1 Class AAA diving title two years ago as a sophomore, coming in second behind North Penn’s Marie Yacopino.
So last year, she was all set to go for district gold when the worst happened. It had nothing to do with diving but it sure hampered the then-junior’s efforts in the postseason.
Two nights before districts, Costello cut her hand badly in a bathroom accident. A glass doorknob exploded in her hand, requiring 26 stitches to close the wound. Desperate to find a way for Costello to compete, she and her family scrambled for a solution.
“I was going to use a rubber glove but it didn’t work out; it was too weird diving with it,” said Costello “So we just taped it; it was really painful.
“I didn’t want all my hard work to go to waste so I just went through it.”
To her credit, Nicole finished fourth in districts while grabbing a fifth-place medal in states. Wednesday afternoon Nov. 16 in an athletic commitment ceremony held on the West Campus, Costello proudly announced her college intentions. The regionally renowned diver is headed to UNC-Wilmington.
Nicole says she owes much of her diving success to her family.
“I couldn’t have done it without my dad,” said Costello, referring to her father Joseph, who is also her coach. “He’s a big supporter of mine.”
She also has her sister – Class of 2014 Pennsbury grad Alexandra Costello, currently a diver at Boston University – for support.
“I always looked up to my sister because she is a diver too,” said Nicole. “She just always knew what to do so I just followed her (advice).”
A four-year varsity diver, Costello was successful right away at Pennsbury. She has taken the top prize in Suburban One National League championships every single year in high school.
Competing at SOLs as a freshman, Costello’s score of 436.25 broke the previous William Tennent pool record of 391.20 set by her sister in 2012-13 season. She also broke the National Conference record of 431.85 set in the 2009-10 season by former Falcon diver Emily Howard.
Topping runner-up Alex by more than 55 points at SOLs that year put Nicole on everyone’s radar coming into her sophomore campaign.
“There was a lot of pressure the following year because freshman year, they were all surprised,” explained Costello. “It’s pressure but it’s good pressure; it made me work harder.”
Yacopino, a Class of 2016 North Penn graduate now at San Diego State, captured the top prize in districts the past two years. Last year, the Knights’ diver shattered her own mark of 512.50 with a score of 544.30 in the D-1 championships. Teammate Paige Burrell took silver with a 502.45. Council Rock South’s Phoebe Shaya grabbed the bronze with a 465.65, while Costello took fourth with a 461.65.
After scoring 464.05 as a sophomore, Costello knows she would have done better, if not for the injury to her hand. She’ll hope for the best and maybe in the meantime, stay away from any sharp objects leading up to the postseason.
For now, she’ll fly high with the Lady Falcons. A year from now, she’ll be hanging with the Division 1 Seahawks of the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.
Pennsbury announced six other college commits including swimmers Connor Doyle and Collin Hanlon. Doyle is headed to Virginia Tech while Hanlon is going to Lehigh.
Additionally, cross country and track star Mary Webb is headed to the prestigious University of Pennsylvania and infielder Billy Bethel will play baseball at Chesnut Hill College.
Ciara Devenuto-Wyeth is going to row for Jacksonville University and bowler Kellie Frain is headed to Long Island University-Brooklyn.