Girls swimming and diving: Impressive final ride for Stevenson standout Pelka
Stevenson swimmer Iza Pelka is humble when it comes her success.
A four-time state qualifier, the senior left her mark.
"I woke up the other morning and almost started crying, thinking this is my last high school meet," said Pelka, who did Stevenson proud on Saturday by touching sixth (1:50.52) in the state championship heat of the 200-yard freestyle at New Trier. "It's really bittersweet. But it's been an awesome ride. I just wanted to finish on a good note. I've proven everything I wanted to prove."
Pelka looks to carry on her success to the collegiate level when she swims for Tulane starting next fall. She also picked up a ninth-place medal after swimming a 56.04 in the consolation finals of the 100 butterfly.
Pelka's high school career came to an end when she teamed with junior Ashley Carollo and sophomores Maddy O'Donnell and Lucy Stevens to finish 11th (3:31.95) in the consolation finals of the 400 free relay, the last event of the meet.
"It's been an honor and one of the best experiences coming to state," Pelka said. "I've really enjoyed representing my school and team."
Carollo also earned an individual medal, touching fourth (55.84) in the 100 backstroke.
As a team, Stevenson finished 15th after earning 28 points over the two-day event.
Upstart Vernon Hills collected hardware as well after winning its first team sectional title a week earlier.
Cougars sophomore Ally Landis was third in diving (426.15), while freshman Casey Craffey was ninth in the 200 freestyle (1:52.44). Junior Drew Petereit also picked up a medal, swimming a 23.92 to finish 11th in the 50 freestyle.
The trio's efforts helped the Cougars finish 23rd with 18 points in the team standings.
"We were a little nervous at first, but this has been a great experience," Petereit said. "We had a lot of hype coming in here and hopefully some people know who we are now."
Warren senior Carly Baun made Gurnee proud, becoming the school's first diver to make it to the semifinals in consecutive years and first the to reach the top 16. She collected 386.85 points to bring home a 10th-place medal.
Blue Devils coach Chris Bertana is going to miss Baun and fellow senior divers Delaney Jones and Teagon Albert, who narrowly missed joining Baun in the finals.
"They've been diving since their sophomore year and have really helped build up and shape our diving program," said Bertana, whose team finished 39th.
Libertyville sophomore Emma Gleason picked up an eighth-place medal, swimming a 55.93 in the 100 butterfly. Her efforts helped Libertyville earn 5 points and finish 34th.
Mundelein sophomore MacKenzie Strong made her second trip to state a success, collecting four more medals competing in events for athletes with disabilities. Visually impaired, Strong was fourth in the 100 breaststroke (1:51.50), while earning sixth-place medals in the 200 free (3:03.27), 50 free (38.01) and 100 free (1:23.53).
Rosary earned its third consecutive state title, accumulating 169 points, well ahead of runner-up Oswego East (138.5).