Prospect sophomore Dana Liva said it was her father Eric, a former college diver, who encouraged her to take up the sport and inspired her to be the best she could be.
Great choice, dad.
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In an impressive performance , Liva won her second consecutive Mid-Suburban League girls diving championship Friday evening at the Barrington Natatorium.
The soph's point total of 406.15 was far and away the best among a strong field. Hersey's Hannah Bovino (369.2) was second, while sophomore Sydney Plichta of Fremd (357.4) placed third.
"Dana takes it personally if she doesn't take the gold," said Knights coach Antonino Bondi. "She's one of the most motivated athletes I've ever seen."
Liva, who said she spent about seven years before high school training to be a gymnast, started to realize her potential in the pool as a freshman when she began competing in -- and winning -- varsity events.
"I love the pressure -- I set goals for myself, and that keeps me going," said the sophomore, who also commented that she feels that she has a "reputation to uphold" after last year's MSL title and state finals appearance.
But she also enjoys the sport immensely and knows that her backgroud in the gym has prepared her nicely for the pool.
"I love flipping," said Liva, "and I love water, so diving is a great combination of the two."
Fremd's Sarah McTague finished fourth, Amanda Poland of Schaumburg was fifth, and Tiffany Soto of the host Broncos grabbed sixth.
Megan Bourn (Palatine, seventh), Amanda Sigler (Schaumburg, eighth), Morgan Radtke (Palatine, ninth), Megan Nocita (Hersey, 10th), Lexi Correa (Conant, 11th) and Kathryn Ray (Hoffman Estates) rounded out the top 12.
For Hersey coach Tom Schwab, one of the highlights of the night was seeing the dramatic improvement of his dynamic junior, Bovino.
It was quite a jump to second place for the junior, who finished 10th in the MSL last year in only her first season of competitive diving.
"Hannah's production and productivity are amazing," said Schwab. "She learns expeditiously, and she has such an inner drive. Hannah starts every day with a new goal, and she acheives those goals.
"She's a fantastic team leader, and she's always out there coaching up her teammates and doing whatever she can to help them out. That's why the team loves her."
Bovino just missed out on a state meet advancement in 2011 but feels like this could be the year.
"I was happy with my performance," said the junior. "I came out to the pool tonight and said 'OK, let's get this done.' "