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North athletes triumph at state competitions

Eight+swimmers+from+girls+swim+and+dive+competed+at+state.
Joe Benoit
Eight swimmers from girls swim and dive competed at state.

This fall season, North girls cross country, girls swim and dive, girls tennis and boys golf each produced athletes that all placed in and, in many cases, won their state championships. 

Girls cross country runner Gwen Hobson was the only cross country runner from North to make it to state. She placed 33rd, after being ranked 106th out of everyone competing heading into the meet. Hobson ran a personal record of three miles in 17 minutes and 45 seconds at the state meet.

Being the only girl from her team to make it to state would be seen as a lot of pressure by anyone, especially since Hobson is only a freshman. Getting so far would be hard enough alone, but Hobson achieving such success is partly due to support from her teammates and coaches.

“I felt pressure being the only one to make it to state but everyone was so supportive,” said Hobson. “I love my team, we are all like a big family, and the community is really great.” 

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A good team is one side of making it to state, the effort put in is the real reason Hobson was able to do what she did. State training is a lot of work and Hobson had to train hard to qualify. 

“Training for state is about always giving 100% mentally and physically,” said Hobson. “Before the race, I ran less and let my muscles rest.”

Hobson says she loved the energy of state and it was a lot of fun, but that it was also really good to see how older girls were running. 

“Seeing the winners and my competitors at the race gave me a goal for the future,” said Hobson. 

Reaching state and doing so well was a huge accomplishment. Hobson is excited for next season, continuing to get better, and getting to see the team again. 

Girls swim and dive had many athletes place high in their events and placed 2nd overall in their combined division. Juniors Izzy Beu and Maya Townsend were state champions in their respective categories. Five of the eight swimmers who went to state placed in their competitions.

State championships can be nerve wrecking, as most sports heavily rely on mental toughness, but having a solid mindset and keeping your goals in sight can help calm those pre-championship jitters. 

“I kind of know who I’m going to be up against and stuff. So, it’s kind of just believing in myself, no matter who I’m going against,” said sophomore Tess Stavropoulous. 

In addition to mentally preparing, having good physical preparation throughout the season and before the actual championship can also help to ensure a solid performance. 

“It was a lot of technique work. And I had been lifting a lot, just to prepare,” said Stavropoulous. 

Being able to compete at state is a huge feat, and many athletes contribute that to their coaches for all of the time and effort they put into the process. 

 “Without him [Rooney] I wouldn’t have had the opportunity twice in a row, and without all these amazing coaches that I’ve had for two years, to get to the point of being two-time state champion” Said Townsend.   

Taking away everything from the preparation, to the actual competition, and finally to the end result, these swimmers emphasize some helpful tips for athletes. 

“I’d say like, it’s a lot about what you do in the offseason. And I think especially you can tell who’s at the top based on how much they’re willing to commit to the sport. But it’s kind of a return on investment thing. If you put it in, you’re gonna get it out eventually” said Beu.

Joe Benoit

Girls tennis was another sport that made it to state. Singles player senior Alli Gizewicz, along with doubles partners sophomore Shannon Lu and junior Danielle Dejanovich, were able to get top 32 and top 16 overall. 

Gizewicz was able to win her sectional title, which protected her from playing first seed, and was automatically put in the top 32 in the state. 

Even though Gizewicz, and Lu and Dejanovich were in different categories, they would still practice and prepare together.

 “We practice every day after school for two hours. And we did a lot of singles drills. And then I would hit with Shannon and Danielle, to prepare them for doubles drills,” said Gizewicz. 

For the championship on Thursday Nov. 15 at Fremd High School, the weather conditions were not ideal for these athletes, as it was cold and raining. The weather was bad enough to delay Gizewicz’s first game. However, having that preparation before the championship allowed Gizewicz to be able to adjust to the unfortunate conditions and earn her place in the top 32. 

“Work hard. Your work reflects how you do when you don’t want to go to practice. So practice because those are the moments that really count,” said Gizewicz, “And keep a good attitude. Mentally tennis is 60% mental. And anything can happen, anyone can beat anyone. I’ve beaten really good players, and I’ve lost to players that I should’ve beaten. So at any moment, just believe in yourself and have the confidence to be able to compete at the highest level with everyone else.” 

The final fall sport that made it to state was boys golf. Senior Clay Heilman, a two-time state qualifier, was the only player from the team this year to qualify, placing 12th in the state. With this being his final senior season, he was able to take a lot away from these experiences, and looks forward to his future. 

“It’s also fun too. Learning, meeting people, a bunch of my friends are actually going to college and I’ll be playing them as I play in college. And it’s also just a different experience than what you’d typically experience,” said Heilman. 

Being a two-time state qualifier, Heilman knew what he had to change in his preparation from last year and what to do differently in the actual competition in order to go farther this year.

 “[I] just practiced, prepared the mind more or less. I knew I was ready golf wise, it was just the mental part of going down there looking to not just make the cut, but I was trying to win.” Said Heilman. 

The course this year was the same one as last year at The Den at Fox Creek. This allowed Heilman an advantage from knowing the course, so he was able to focus on how he played rather than where the ball was going. 

Heilman’s state qualification experience has taught him many things that he can use in both his future at Loyola University, where he has committed to continue his academic and athletic career, and to pass on to other players wanting to follow in his footsteps. 

“Don’t give up. Keep fighting. All of it is upstairs, it’s all in the mental part, and if you can figure that part out, you’re pretty dangerous,” said Heilman.

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About the Contributor
Alex Bardouniotis, Sports Editor
Alex is a writer for the Stargazer. She is a senior at North and has been on the staff since November 2021. Alex engages in student journalism because digging deeper into real life events, problems, and situations, as well as exploring different angles and perceptions of things, is super fun! It also helps you, and others, to understand the way society works.

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