Girls swimming and diving: Mundelein's Kasemets takes home second place medal
Nothing makes a coach happier than to see one of their star athletes excel, especially when they exceed expectations.
"She just came out of nowhere to become one of the top breaststrokers in the state," said a beaming Mundelein coach Rahul Sethna. "We're so proud of her. She has worked really hard to get where she's at."
She being junior Adry Kasemets, who is making it a habit of qualifying for the IHSA swimming and diving state finals, which was hosted by New Trier over the weekend.
"I owe a lot to my teammates for their support and pushing me. But it's really cool because now people will know a little more about me," Kasemets said. "To be up there as one of the top swimmers at school is up there as far as proud moments in my life."
Kasemets certainly did her school proud. Seeded second in the 100-yard breaststroke, Kasemets held her ground in finishing second in the championship heat Saturday afternoon, where she touched in 1:02.95 and right behind New Trier sophomore Kaelyn Gridley.
"I just cleared my mind before the race and decided let's just have some fun," she added. "Second place is really cool and fine with me."
Last week at sectionals, Kasemets bested Gridley by winning with a personal best 1:01.89 to become the top seed heading into the state prelims on Friday. Kasemets joined former Mustangs standout state swimmer Erin Falconer, who earned plenty of second-place hardware from 2011-2015, as one of the top female swimmers to pass through Mundelein's doors.
Mundelein also says goodbye to two senior state qualifiers, Angela Bowes, who was part of the qualifying 200 medley relay, and senior Mackenzie Strong, who won four medals in the athletes with disabilities events.
"Those two have meant so much to our program in terms of leadership and ability," said Sethna. Strong has been one of the top athletes in the state for athletes with disabilities over the last four years.
And speaking of bidding farewell, Vernon Hills says goodbye to senior diver Ally Landis, who will carry on her career diving for the University of Illinois next fall.
"We've had some really nice success especially the last four years and Ally has been a star and big part of that," said Cougar diving coach Nathan Lightman. "She a great kid to coach and has a lot of raw talent."
On Saturday, Landis picked up her third medal in as many years, a sixth-place effort after amassing 420.85 points for 11 dives.
"Diving has been great for me. It helped me find and learn about myself," said Landis. "I'm super sad because I'll miss competing on a stage like this and my teammates."
Landis, who finished second her sophomore year and third last season at state, owns every diving record at Vernon Hills since the school opened 20 years ago.
"I still have some more swimming left in me," she added.
Teammate and junior Casey Craffey also made state in the 500 freestyle, where she took command midway through the race in Saturday's consolation heat to finish with a seventh-place medal.
"She just wanted it so bad," said Vernon Hills coach A.J. Block. "She wanted to show her teammates what they can expect next year."
Craffey outlasted Lake Forest's Mary Grace King. Craffey touched in 4:47.89, while King was right behind in 4:58.38.
Stevenson was well represented once again at the state meet, with two individuals and one relay making Saturday swims. The quartet of Elizabeth Cao, Jessica Nyborg, Milena Busma, and Alexandra Eastmond took home a consolation medal in the 200 medley relay. All are juniors and will return next year.
"It's a good thing anytime you can have swims at state on Saturday," said Patriots coach Kevin Zakrewski. "We want to ultimately be a force and this is a step in the right direction. And our girls are getting invaluable experience here at the state meet."
Eastmond also finished with a consolation medal in the 100 backstroke, while Nyborg picked up a consolation medal in the 100 breaststroke.
Warren freshman Keegan Knott and Lake Forest senior Julia Tanna each won four medals as well competing in athletes with disabilities events on Saturday.
"She's got the heart of a lion and nothing seems to faze her," said Warren coach Chris Bertana of Knott, who was making her first trip to the state meet.