Girls swimming: Stevenson prevails as Mundelein steps it up
It's very early in the season, and the state meet at New Trier isn't for another couple of months.
But confidence-boosters are welcome anytime in this sport, and on Thursday evening in Lincolnshire, the Mundelein varsity girls swimming and diving team got just that.
It's no secret the Stevenson girls are primed for another run at a top state finish, where it finished sixth a year ago. Mundelein, however, gave the Pats an early season run for their money only to come up a little short, 102-83.
"We've been taking a step forward each of the last couple of years," Mustangs coach Rahul Sethna said after his team slipped to 2-1 overall in dual meets after Thursday. Mundelein also won the Niles West Invitational last weekend.
"Now as seniors, they are really stepping up and we did that tonight," Sethna said. "They're putting themselves in position for a great senior year."
One of those looking to go out with a bang is three-time state qualifying diver Maggie Franz, who won the event on Thursday with 244.90 points. She'd established a school record (245.15) and personal best just last week.
"That's kind of what keeps me motivated, to dive my best and keep getting decent scores and help the team," Franz said. "We're a pretty close team and very supportive of each other."
Franz's personal goal for the season is crystal clear: "I've been a little short every year except one and would love to finish in the top-16 at state."
Her victory in diving helped Mundelein achieve a tie at 47-47 after 6 events.
But Stevenson senior all-stater Iza Pelka won the 100 butterfly in 59.10 to put the hosts ahead for good.
"Stevenson's always a top program and Kevin (Zakrzewski) has done a great job of building the culture there," added Sethna. "Whenever we face them, it's always a good measuring stick for us. All I can ask for is we compete, and we're doing that."
Mundelein's Angela Bowes, a state qualifier as a junior a year ago, had herself a nice evening, winning four events.
She first joined senior Molly Mishler and juniors Angela Kordik and Kate Hay to win the 200 medley relay (1:55.44). Bowes then won 200 IM in 2:17.52, followed by a victory in the 100 breaststroke (1:11.63).
Then, in the final event of the evening, Bowes swam anchor on the winning 400 freestyle relay where she joined Mishler, junior Mikayla Gruber and sophomore Sarah Parduhn to finish in 3:50.24.
Mundelein senior Abbie Lukas also picked up a victory in the 200 freestyle in 2:07.05. The four-year varsity swimmer is a standout on the water polo team and was named this week Academic All-American by USA Water Polo.
As for Stevenson, sophomore Abigail Li posted a victory in the 50 freestyle (26.18), while senior Sasha Kokhan won the 100 freestyle in 56.98.
Freshman Elizabeth Cao then won the 500 freestyle (5:31.43), and sophomore Maddy O'Donnell touched first in the 100 backstroke (1:03.93).
Stevenson, which improved to 3-0 in duals, also posted a victory in the 200 free relay as senior Kaily Chou, Kokhan, junior Claire Huang and sophomore Lucy Stevens touched first in 1:44.33.
"It's very laid back right now. Right now we're just focusing on training and preparation for the second half of the season, and obviously the state meet," said Zakrzewski.
"I'm really happy with how training is going and with the team attitude. Hats off to Mundelein though -- they punched us a few times tonight."