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Swim team members Ellie Weckherlin, Ashley Mather and Caroline Burge were cheered on by Abby Eichhorn at a rally and parade at Cor Jesu Academy High School Feb. 26. The rally celebrated the school’s first state championship in swimming.
Swim team members Ellie Weckherlin, Ashley Mather and Caroline Burge were cheered on by Abby Eichhorn at a rally and parade at Cor Jesu Academy High School Feb. 26. The rally celebrated the school’s first state championship in swimming.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston

First swimming title thrills Cor Jesu community

Swimmers’ winning combination balances athletics, faith, activities, academics

Horns blared and cheers of “we love our swim team” erupted as Cor Jesu students let loose Feb. 20 in a drive-by parade to celebrate the school’s first Class 1 swimming and diving state championship.

The team set two state relay records in their pursuit of the first-place trophy.

The Cor Jesu cheerleaders, the senior spirit squad, mascots, faculty and staff joined the champions outside after school to cheer and wave to the motorists. The school principal, Sister Veronica Beato, ASCJ, waved a banner vigorously. “After so many months of this COVID, it’s so exciting to celebrate and let the girls enjoy themselves over this tremendous feat,” Sister Veronica said.

Cor Jesu won with 236 points. Parkway West was second with 183 points and St. Joseph’s Academy finished third with 163.

Anna Moehn, who took first place in both the 200 and 500 freestyle events, said the school’s all-out effort to recognize the team was rewarding because the swimmers worked so hard during the season.

“In the high school swim season, it’s about the team,” Moehn said. “You’re competing for your teammates, your coaches and your school.”

Every season has challenges, and COVID-19 precautions added to that. But, like any year, “when you’re training and your body is breaking down, you keep pushing because you’re working toward a goal,” the high school junior said.

The swimmers say their faith lives are important to them.

Prayer brings the Cor Jesu swimmers together, explained Moehn, a parishioner of Sts. Peter and Paul in Alton, Ill., adding that they “direct our gratefulness for our accomplishments toward God.” During practice, Maddie Palatt, a parishioner of Immacolata in Richmond Heights, reflects on her day and her faith to clear her mind and get in a positive mindset. She often spends time thinking about “the many things I’m thankful for.”

Ashley Mather, a senior who is a parishioner of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in south St. Louis County, is a fan of the team’s prayer to St. Therese, the Little Flower Prayer. “We all incorporate that into our swimming. It helps us to get ready, giving it up to God and doing the best we can,” Mather said.

Palatt, who finished first in the 200 individual medley and second in the 100 backstroke, said that during the state championship meet, “we all stepped up our game and outswam where we were seeded.”

The relay team for example was seeded third, and the swimmers all swam faster than their expected times in order to win. “The key to winning state this year was not looking at the number on the paper, knowing we can do better than that and supporting each other,” the senior said.

Like Moehn, Palatt pushed through soreness and fatigue while working hard to improve this season. Also, she aimed to “go out super fast so I could get a lead.”

Mather, who was on the first-place 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams along with Moehn and Palatt, was surprised that her team overtook Parkway West for the championship. “We didn’t focus on our speed times. We honestly just were going out to have have fun. We were excited to be out there. We all just stepped up our game, swam as hard as we could and put it all on the line. It ended up paying off.”

The swimmers have their hands full with year-round training, but there’s much more to them that just athletics.

For example, Moehn is involved in the CARE Club (Christian Action Reaching Everyone) at school, a community service program. She’s in the National Honor Society and Student Ambassador Program. Palatt is in the CARE Club and the Benin Babies Club which raises funds for children in Africa. She’s in the National Honor Society and is a Student Ambassador. Ashley Mather plays soccer and is in the Spanish Club at Cor Jesu. She has a number of activities outside school as well, including club soccer.

At Cor Jesu, Mather said, the students incorporate their faith life with their athletics, academics and other activities. “It makes that whole faith-based community seem like home. And because of that, we have a deeper connection with each other,” Mather said.

>> MSHSAA Swim Meet

Top 10 finishers for Cor Jesu swimmers (Class 1): Allie Maloney, 10th place 200 freestyle, 4th place 100 backstroke; Anna Moehn, 1st place 200 freestyle, 1st place 500 freestyle; Ashley Mather, 8th place 50 freestyle; Erin Morie, 5th place 100 Butterfly; Maddie Palatt, 1st Place 200 individual medley, 2nd place 100 backstroke

Relays: 1st place 200 freestyle relay (Anna Moehn, Maddie Palatt, Ashley Mather, Ellie Weckherlin); 1st place 400 freestyle relay (Anna Moehn, Maddie Palatt, Ashley Mather, Allie Maloney); 6th place 200 medley relay (Maloney, Erin Morie, Andi Lipic and Weckherlin)

In Class 2, Nerinx Hall’s Emily Traube was first in the 100 freestyle and second in the 50 freestyle. Nerinx’s Brooke Punnewaert was second in the 50 individual medley

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