If she wanted to show off, Ellie Wehrmann could walk around with some of her hard-fought-for medals around her neck.
But that's not the style of the ever-smiling Incarnate Word Academy sophomore. She barely mentions the hard work it's taken to become one of the elite swimmers in the state. Wehrmann won the 200 freestyle and 100 freestyle meets at Class 2 Missouri State High School Girls Swimming Championship last month at the St. Peters Rec-Plex.
She gives a hint of the hard work when asked to give advice to other swimmers: "Keep going, you don't always improve your best times. Keep training because it's all going to pay off in the end. You might hit a plateau at some point, but your times will improve so keep working."
"So cool" is how Wehrmann describes the wins — and the support of her teammates, friends, family and school community.
What helps her stay calm before races, she said, is to pray "a quick Hail Mary just to get my mind set so that I can get through it, so that God will get me through it," said the parishioner and graduate of the school at St. Joseph in Cottleville.
As a freshman, Wehrmann took third in the 100 freestyle and fifth in the 200. "This year, since I swam in the same events, I knew what I needed to improve," she said. "I didn't really have a strategy, I still just went for it. But I also tried to keep my eye on the people I was next to."
Wehrmann first made a splash on a summer league team and at pools in her community. It eventually led to swimming on the club level with the Flyers Aquatic Swim Team (FAST).
She's played soccer, volleyball, basketball and lacrosse and was a cheerleader. She was on a volleyball team freshman year but then focused exclusively on swimming. Having an outlet with other sports was important, she said, but she loves swimming because of the friendships she's made and the adrenaline she gets from racing.
Wehrmann views swimming as a nice blend of individual competition and team effort, including relays. "We're at practice together every day and so we really bond as a team," she said.
She swims nearly every day, but when not in the pool or training, Wehrmann enjoys relaxing with school friends and family. She has two brothers, Siler who is a senior at Christian Brothers College High School and plays water polo; and Max, an eighth-grader at St. Joseph School who is a swimmer. They're close-knit and supportive yet competitive at times.
Her goals include making the Olympic trials and becoming a scholarship athlete in college.
Lisa Orlet, athletic director at Incarnate Word, said Wehrmann is a leader by example for the swim team. "The girls see what hard work does for you," Orlet said. "She gets up at 5 in the morning and goes to her swim team and does double duty and doesn't have any problem with it. She has goals and discipline and knows what it takes."
Wehrmann has improved the swim times of her teammates, the athletic director said, by inspiring, teaching and encouraging them.
Swimming is off campus and normally not a highlighted sport, but Wehrmann has brought attention to it, Orlet said, although she's never been boastful. "For the Red Knight community, she's a complete woman of the Word. I know that her Christian faith is very important to her, her academics come first and she pays very close attention to her goals and makes a lot of sacrifices to achieve them."
Wehrmann will be successful in whatever endeavor she pursues in the future, Orlet said. "Already she's taken the gifts that God has given her and done the most with them."
Several swimmers from Catholic schools in the archdiocese stood out at the Missouri State High School Girls Swimming Championship last month in St. Peters.
This year, for the first time, the meet was divided into two classes. Ellie Wehrmann of Incarnate Word Academy won two championships in Class 1. Cor Jesu junior Karisa Franz, competing in Class 2, won two championships as well — in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke.
Cor Jesu's team finished in sixth place in Class 2. Maddie Mather took third in the 500 freestyle and her Cor Jesu teammate Grace Vonder Haar was sixth in diving. Cor Jesu's 200 medley relay team of Mather, Franz, Maddie Palatt and Nicole Beard was second. The same group finished fourth in the 400 freestyle relay.
Emily Traube of Nerinx Hall was sixth in the 200 freestyle.
In Class 1, St. Joseph's Academy finished third. Maddie Hernandez, Ally Duggan, Emmi Mattern and Annie Kreikemeier won the 200 freestyle relay. Kreikemeier was second in the 200 medley and fourth in the 500 freestyle. Hernandez was second in the 50 freestyle.
Peri George of Villa Duchesne was third in the 100 butterfly and sixth in the 100 backstroke. Christina Jurotich of Visitation was third in the 200 medley and fifth in the 100 breaststroke. Emily Reuwer of St. Francis Borgia was fourth in the 100 butterfly. Sarah Nelson of St. Dominic was fifth in the 100 freestyle and her sister and teammate, Kate Nelson, was sixth. Visitation Academy's 200 medley relay team was fourth.
Christian Brothers College High School won the Missouri Class 4 Wrestling Championship last month. CBC's Malik Johnson, a senior, won his fourth state championship. Also winning first place in their classifications for CBC were Cevion Severado, Joshua Saunders and D.J. Shannon. CBC's Vincent Zerban finished second.
At heavyweight in Class 4, Chaminade's Danny Conley won for the second year in a row.
In Class 2, Greg Rolwes of Priory took second place. Two St. Francis Borgia wrestlers took medals, third place for Dylan Hellebusch and fifth place for Adam Hellebusch.