STORM LAKE, Iowa | There’s kind of a Cinderella story, if you will, about the seniors who will represent Storm Lake High School at Saturday’s state swimming meet at the Marshalltown YMCA/YWCA.
Actually, only one of them attends Storm Lake, senior Joy Bral. During last Saturday’s regional swimming meet in Fort Dodge, Bral competed on the 200 freestyle relay and the 400 freestyle relay, foursomes that were clocked in school-record times of 1:39.47 and 3:38.88, respectively.
Five of the six events which the Tornadoes will take to Marshalltown qualified with school records. Coach Jodi Mongan’s squad basically re-wrote the record book this year, establishing new marks in all 11 events.
Destini Oehlertz (a Laurens-Marathon student) established new records in the 100 freestyle (54.26) and the 100 backstroke (59.37).
Oehlertz has the state’s ninth-fastest 100 backstroke qualifying time. She and Ridge View student Keely Soellner (200 freestyle record of 1:54.90) will also swim in the two relays along with Bral and the coach’s daughter, Cherokee sophomore Kylie Mongan.
“Destini has also worked very hard to get to where she is,” said Coach Mongan. “She has worked just as hard as Keely and hasn’t always gotten the same results, so for her to do well in this event (100 backstroke) Saturday was great. She has been trying to get under one minute on this event for three years.”
As sophomores, Oehlertz and Bral were part of the state meet 200 medley relay. Bral competed, despite shoulder pain.
Bral had shoulder surgery the winter after state and still experiences pain, but nevertheless, keeps swimming.
“She has persevered for the sake of the relays and has been a big part of them being able to succeed,” said Coach Mongan.
Soeller joined the squad last season and placed 14th in the 200 freestyle at Marshalltown.
“Keely looked at me before the meet was over and said, ‘I want to be on the podium next year,’” said Coach Mongan. “It’s one thing to say that, but she did everything she could do to actually make it happen. And now, she’s poised to do that.”
Soellner is ranked sixth among the state qualifiers in the 200 freestyle and is seventh-ranked in the 500 freestyle (5:12.64). Coach Mongan said Soeller was disappointed about being unable to qualify in the 500 freestyle last year, a feeling Oehlertz had about missing out in the 100 freestyle.
Look where they are now.
“To be ranked as high as they are is a testament to the amount of work they have put in since last season,” said Coach Mongan. “Where to give credit for (new school records which were set at the regional), I guess some of it is their competitiveness, but the rest is just their work ethic.
“Even when they are tired or exhausted, they push through and get it done. We have literally invested blood, sweat and tears into this season. I called this team – all 29 of them – my Dream Team from the beginning of the season and they have not disappointed.”