Cassie Ketterling to make history for Oak Creek swimmers at state

Freshman advances in IM and 500 free

Nov. 11, 2014

When Oak Creek girls swim coach Katie Andreska took over the job eight years ago, co-coaching with a friend who later got married and started a family, it was an uphill climb.

Here she was, a former South Milwaukee and UW-Oshkosh competitor who just wanted to pass on her love of swimming, and at that first head count, all she and her friend could manage was 17 athletes.

"I do love the sport," she said. "I swam in high school and in college, and I love the intensity and the excitement, and I was sure I didn't want to get rid of it just yet. I get nervous and I get excited over the course of the season so I tend to lose my voice," she added laughing.

It was indeed a hoarse and scratchy whisper during a recent phone call.

Things got better, and numbers became consistent as befitting a lifetime sport like swimming. The Knights aren't scaring anyone on the elite level, but their numbers are now routinely over 40 every year. They are competitive on their level, but they haven't been able to pull in an elite athlete or two from the clubs to really make a difference.

Introduce a major new reason or two for Andreska to lose her voice: Freshmen Cassie Ketterling and Izzy Sonday. Sonday is a steady, soon-to-be state level performer of very good talent, while Ketterling is that transformative swimmer Andreska has been waiting for.

Not typical freshman

The powerfully built, giggling, braces-wearing "typical freshman" has had anything but a typical freshman season, as Ketterling has plowed through seven school records including a couple a few times over. For a program that has seen just a few divers qualify for state in recent years, she is the first actual swimmer the Knights have sent to the WIAA State D1 meet in many, many years.

And she has a chance to do damage. Ketterling won both the 200 individual medley and the 500 freestyle at the sectional meet held at Greenfield on Nov. 8, breaking her own school marks in the process. It was the fourth time she has broken the mark in each event.

She will be the sixth seed in the fast heat of the IM and the 12th seed in the second heat of the 500 free.

Ketterling will get her chance to make history for Oak Creek when the timed finals for the state D1 meet are held at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15, at the UW-Madison Natatorium.

Ketterling will remember her win in the 200 IM on Nov. 8 for as long as she lives because it was there that she realized her importance to the team.

"I walked over to them and they were all crying," she said of her teammates. "They were just so happy. I'm just glad I was able to do the best that I could."

And then some. Ketterling came across the IM in a scorching 2:08.63. Later, she won the 500 free handily over teammate Sonday with a 5:11.04 effort. Sonday's time didn't miss a state berth by much as she finished with a runner-up personal best clocking 5:17.32.

Swimming early

Ketterling has been swimming since the age of 5, and she joined the powerful SWAT swim club when she was 10. She gravitated to the IM and the 500 almost immediately, swimming in regional meets and even taking part in a national event in Florida one year.

"The 500 was my first club state cut (time), and the 200 IM was my next," she said.

The 14-year-old took to high school swimming almost immediately and is happy to have someone of the caliber of Sonday to swim against in practice.

"I got to know her (Sonday) in March, and then I got to know the rest of the girls soon after," she said. "It felt very comfortable. It felt like family."

Just the sort of atmosphere Andreska was searching for. She was astounded when she first saw Ketterling in the water.

"She's just so strong coming off the walls," said Andreska. "She looks like a torpedo out there. Just so smooth in the water ... We've had a lot of kids who have swam club before but none who were as into it as those two (including Sonday)."

Rewriting records

Andreska soon struck upon an idea to see how quickly Ketterling could rewrite the school record book.

"So we maximized her opportunities to break every record possible," Andreska said.

They fell like water droplets on the pool deck, even surprising the confident and talented Ketterling.

"I didn't expect to break them all like that," she said. "I knew I would get some, like the IM and the 500, but not the backstroke or the breaststroke. Those came out of nowhere."

"Everyone's having so much fun," Andreska said. "They (her teammates) come up to her asking her for suggestions."

Then cheer her on like mad when she swims.

She's going to take in everything at her first state meet and just do the best she can.

"I'm going to be so excited just to be there," she said.

Andreska was extremely pleased with the sectional as a whole as out of 18 individual swims, 15 were personal or lifetime bests. She was pleased with the work that her team captains Ashley Heiges, Reba Wroblewski and Jasmine Chen-Smith (diving) did this year.

"It was a great meet to end the season; hard work and dedication does pay off in the end," Andreska said. "There were tears of joy and happiness."

Other top performances for the Knights: Diving—Isabelle Anderson, sixth (personal best 364.0 points); Andi Sullivan, ninth (PB 332.5). 200 free—Sonday, sixth (PB 2:02.52). 100 free—Ashley Hock, 16th (PB 59.74). 500 free—Jenna Fields, 15th (PB 5:56.12). 100 backstroke—Hock, 10th (PB 1:07.73); Hannah Smith, 11th (PB 1:08.27).

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