Kathryn Teske knew the challenges that high school swimmers faced in Eastern Washington.
Growing up in Spokane, she had no high school area team to compete for, so her family moved her to Missoula to get the opportunity to swim for more than just a club team.
The opportunity paid off, as Teske landed a scholarship to Rutgers University, where she swam for four years. After her collegiate swimming career ended, she became a graduate assistant coach for the Scarlet Knights.
However, there was still a longing to come back to the Northwest. Three years ago, when the head coaching job with the Cheney High School girls swim team came open, she seized the opportunity.
“I wanted to do something with swimming, and the high school swimming position opened up, and I really thought it was important they keep that program going,” said Teske, who also teaches at Rogers High School.
“I figured I swam high school, so I was somewhat familiar with how it’s laid out. I thought it would be really fun to watch a team grow and hopefully get better and get more swimmers to the state level.”
Teske has succeeded, as the Blackhawks will send eight swimmers to this week’s State 2A swim meet in Federal Way. The eight are the most Cheney has sent in her three seasons.
“Our performance at districts was very good,” said Teske. “I was really happy with how we did this year.
“We took 17 girls to districts, and 16 of them swam their best times. That’s what we go for all season long.”
Leading the way for the Blackhawks will be the Landreaux sisters, Morgan and Alexa. The two are co-captains for Cheney, and both return to the state meet after competing last year.
Morgan, a senior, was named the Eastern Washington Swimmer of the Year this season. She will compete in the 200 individual medley and the 400 freestyle and 200 medley relays. Landreaux also is hoping for a little “home pool” advantage in Federal Way.
“Me and my sister used to live over there, and that was the pool we used to practice in all the time,” Morgan said. “It’s like being home for us, but for other people we just tell them to not be nervous.
“You just tell them they’ve swam these events so many times before that they’ll do great. We really want to place and get on that podium this year. It would be awesome. Whether it’s in a relay or an individual event, we really want to get on the podium.”
Alexa, who is a junior, will swim in the 200 freestyle, in which she set a district meet record, the 500 freestyle, the 200 freestyle relay, and the 400 free relay, in which she will be teamed with her sister.
“The last relay, the 400, we’re both together, and so if we haven’t got on the podium yet, there’s definitely going to be a lot more energy and we’ll be swimming faster,” said Alexa.
“Alexa will definitely be competitive in her 200 free and her 500 (free),” Teske said. “I’m hoping she’ll final in her 200 free and possibly in the 500.
“She’s definitely someone we’re looking to do well.”
Another previous state competitor is junior Kaitlin Salley, who will compete in the 100 backstroke, 100 freestyle, and the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays. She hopes the Blackhawks’ success will get them some more notice in their own school.
“Sometimes when we win swim meets, they don’t even call us over the announcements,” said Salley, who went to state last year as a sophomore. “They call football and volleyball, so it’s hard sometimes. We’re like the underdogs.”
Another Blackhawk expecting some success at state is junior Sarah Moore, who set a district meet record in the 100 breaststroke.
“It’s my best stroke, and I’m really good at it,” said Moore. “I’ve gone my best times this season.”
In addition to the 100 breaststroke, she will swim the 200 individual medley and the 200 medley and 400 free relays.
Other Blackhawks who will go to state include state returnee senior Breanna Edwards, who will compete in the 200 freestyle relay. Her sister, freshman Rachel Edwards, will swim the 200 free relay with her, as well as the 200 medley relay and the 100 butterfly.
Senior Kyra Shea and junior Trista Neilson will both swim in the 200 freestyle relay.
“We’re swimming at a world-class facility, which is unusual for a state meet,” said Teske. “It’s a pool that’s maintained very well, and it holds international competitions every couple of years.
“We know it’s a fast pool and it’s a good pool. It’s fun to swim in a place world records have been set.”
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