Izzy Bunchek has to have a hot caramel macchiato with extra caramel drizzle from Starbucks before she dives in meets.
“It’s kind of like a ritual,” Bunchek said.
The Ashwaubenon junior’s usual 1-meter diving routine was anything but during her biggest meet of the season. It wasn’t because she didn’t get her morning coffee.
Bunchek hit the board on her second dive at the WIAA Division 1 state swimming and diving meet last month in Madison.
“I had to work even harder to make cuts,” Bunchek said. “You have to learn how to put it behind you. That’s definitely what got me through state.”
Bunchek bounced back to not only make the first cut, but also climbed from 18th in her subsequent dives to place sixth and earn an improbable spot on the state podium.
For her efforts, Bunchek is Press-Gazette Media’s swimming and diving competitor of the year.
“She figured it out on her own how to combat that pressure,” Ashwaubenon coach Jennifer Steffel said about Bunchek’s performance at state.
“She just chipped away. Every dive seemed to get a little better. Part of it was her confidence got a little better because she had to readjust.”
Bunchek has made a smooth adjustment to diving in high school after previously competing in gymnastics.
She won a third Fox River Classic Conference title by breaking her conference and school record with a score of 534.2.
Bunchek advanced to state for a third time by winning her first sectional title with a score of 487.5, which made her a high seed entering state.
It took a remarkable rally to regain that standing following the early miscue.
“My reverse one-and-a-half tuck lifted me up a lot of places,” Bunchek said about her ninth of 11 dives at state. “That’s when I had a pretty good glimpse of hope of maybe making podium with that dive. That really helped.”
Bunchek credits her diving coach, Paul Heykes, for helping her attain success in the event, which takes Ashwaubenon competitors to Pulaski for practices. Heykes coaches divers from both schools there.
Ashwaubenon’s current pool doesn’t have a diving well, but the new pool being built will have it.
Bunchek hopes the construction of the new pool will be complete in time for her to dive in it her senior season.
But even it’s not ready, Bunchek will be aiming to become the first individual to leave behind a state championship banner at the new pool.
“I would definitely like first,” Bunchek said. “I want a banner in that pool.”
2015 Press-Gazette Media all-area girls swimming and diving team
Izzy Bunchek, jr., Ashwaubenon: Placed sixth in 1-meter diving in Division 1 to reach the podium for the first time in her third WIAA state appearance. She won a sectional title and broke her own Fox River Classic Conference record.
Katie Kaminski, jr., Sturgeon Bay/Sevastopol: Won two individual Bay Conference titles (500 freestyle and 200 freestyle) and two conference relay titles (200 and 400 freestyle). Advanced to D2 state in the 100 breaststroke and as a leg on the 400 freestyle relay.
Emily Macco, jr., De Pere: Earned honorable mention all-state honors by finishing ninth in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1 minute, 5.71 seconds. Won FRCC titles in the 500 freestyle and as a leg on the 400 freestyle relay.
Clare Martell, sr., Shawano/Bonduel: The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay recruit became a four-time D1 state qualifier in the 100 breaststroke, finishing 15th with a season-best time of 1:07.11. Won Bay Conference titles in the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke.
Riley Melendy, fr., Bay Port: Won FRCC titles in the 100 backstroke and as a leg in the 200 medley relay. Advanced to D1 state in the 200 individual medley and 200 medley relay.
Erin Samels, so., Bay Port: Won FRCC and D1 Neenah sectional titles in the 100 breaststroke, which she advanced to state in for a second time. She also won an FRCC title and advanced to state as a leg on the 200 medley relay.
Sophia Thibert, so., Bay Port: Helped the Pirates win a fifth FRCC title in six years by winning event championships in the 50 freestyle and as a leg on the 200 medley relay, which advanced to D1 state.
Annah Van Gheem, jr., De Pere: The FRCC swimmer of the year won conference titles in the 200 freestyle, 100 butterfly and as a leg on the 400 freestyle relay. Advanced to the D1 state meet in three events (100 butterfly, 200 medley relay, 400 freestyle relay).
Bri Zablocki, fr., De Pere: Won FRCC titles in the 200 individual medley and as a leg on the 400 freestyle relay. Advanced to D1 state in those two events and as a leg on the 200 medley relay.
200 medley relay — Bay Port ( Melendy, Samels, Thibert, Taylor Kroenke, sr.): Set an FRCC record with a time of 1:51.74 and posted a time of 1:49.15 to finish 11th at state in D1.
200 freestyle relay — Ashwaubenon (Hannah Van Dalen, sr.; Emma Steffel, so.; Katherine O’Connell, so.; Tessa Badalamenti, jr.): The FRCC champion finished 16 th in D1 at state with a time of 1:40.92. Van Dalen, a Minnesota State recruit, became a four-time state qualifier in the event.
400 freestyle relay — De Pere (Zablocki, Sophie Hansen, jr.; Macco, Van Gheem,): The FRCC champion finished as runner-up at the D1 Neenah sectional. Finished 17th at state with a time of 3:41.56.
Coach of the year — De Pere’s Stephanie Rogaczewski: The Redbirds led the area with WIAA state qualifiers in five events under the direction of the first-year coach. It’s the first time De Pere has had swimmers at state since 2012.
Marissa Ehlers, sr., Sturgeon Bay/Sevastopol; Kyla Lesperance, jr., Marinette; aitlyn Schauske, fr., Sturgeon Bay/Sevastopol; 200 medley relay: De Pere (Zablocki, Macco, Van Gheem, Sophie Hansen, jr.); 400 freestyle relay: Sturgeon Bay/Sevastopol (Molly Banks, fr.; Josie Peterson, jr.; Kaminski, Ehlers).
Andrew Pekarek, Press-Gazette Media