News Detail


Kristyn Hartman
Have you ever felt as if you lived multiple days in one? Connor Gunderson ‘27 likely would tell you “YES!”
Consider how February 2nd played out for the student-athlete.
He started the day at school before he got on a bus and traveled more than 100 miles to Bloomington, Illinois.

When he got there, the freshman with the deep gymnastics background competed with the Saint Ignatius College Prep Cheer Team which was there for State.
Flipping and twisting, Gunderson left his best on the floor, then hit the road again with his folks, traveling another 100 plus miles back to the Chicago area to bring more of his best to an altogether different competition. That’s right, Gunderson was set to represent the Wolfpack at the Metro Catholic Aquatic Conference competition in diving. 

And here’s the really impressive outcome: After literally going the distance to be at both events, and being part of the 23rd place finish at State with the cheer team, Gunderson won the diving contest. 

Saint Ignatius College Prep Athletic Director Mike Hurley called it a "really special story that highlights an extraordinary work ethic, dedication and commitment" to compete at a high level across multiple sports. 

“Competing at the IHSA State Finals on Friday afternoon with his teammates in Bloomington, then returning to join his swimming and diving team…and winning the diving championship, is just an incredible feat that we have not seen,” said Hurley.

Juggling the demands of two sports, in addition to the rigorous academics at Saint Ignatius, prepared the freshman for that challenging day - one he didn’t imagine was possible when he was working to get on the teams.

“I wasn’t expecting to make it on the varsity team for cheer because I’d never done it. It was a shock that I got on varsity…and with diving, I wasn’t expecting to win as many competitions as I did,” said Gunderson.

Coaches in both sports chalk up his success to his dedication.

“He takes his role very seriously, and comes to practice looking to improve everyday,” said Head Diving Coach Mike Sprehe, “Connor is one of the most naturally talented kids I’ve had a chance to coach. He’s a very strong competitor.”

Proof is in what he’s accomplished. He’s heading to State in diving as a freshman. Cheer Team Head Coach Francine Dilay is not surprised.

“His grit, tenacity and determination have truly shown through this season leading to a successful outcome for both sports,” said Dilay, “What is extremely impressive, is that he is the only student-athlete at Saint Ignatius College Prep to do two sports within one season and qualify for State for both as a freshman. All of his hard work has paid off, and we are immensely proud of Connor.”

Gunderson says the dual-sport, same-season experience has taught him a lot. He shared a couple of the big lessons.

“Don’t give up, even if you have a rough day,” said Gunderson. He added, “It’s good to push yourself because you never know what you’re capable of - It’s good to see how far you can go and what you can do.” 

Saint Ignatius College Prep

Saint Ignatius College Prep, a Jesuit Catholic school in the heart of Chicago, is a diverse community dedicated to educating young men and women for lives of faith, love, service and leadership.