In a bigger pool: Ringwall competes against swimmers from six different states at spring sectionals
In the second grade, Dickinson Trinity sophomore Ketti Ringwall began losing her hair because of the medical condition known as alopecia.
She didn't know why at first, but now she doesn't mind it.
It could be a coincidence that Ringwall became a swimmer.
"It's a good thing to have for swimming, I guess," she said with a laugh, referring to the fact that swimmers typically have to find ways to tuck their hair neatly under a swim cap.
This week, Ringwall heads to the biggest meet of her young career, the USA Swimming Central Zone spring sectional meet in Pleasant Prairie, Wis.
Ringwall will make the 880-mile trip to compete against some of the best swimmers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa. The sophomore will be competing in the 200- and 100-meter freestyle and the 200 backstroke. The meet starts today and lasts until Sunday.
Excitement can't describe how Ringwall feels. For her coach, Kristy Roller, the excitement has been building as well.
"It's pretty exciting," Roller said. "It's fun to see her improvements by season. Since I've got here last summer, she's improved every season. There's no limit on what she can do."
Though Ringwall knows it's going to be tough to crack the top 16 at sectionals, she is ready to grab some experience in the process.
"Since this is just my first big meet like this, I'm nervous," Ringwall said. "But then at the same time, I'm going there to get some experience. I know there's going to be a lot of hard competition."
Seeing this level of competition at a meet of this size can be a little nerve-wracking, but Roller said Ringwall can handle the pressure.
"She's very driven," Roller said. "She can do whatever she puts her mind to. That's really important, because some swimmers need a lot of encouragement. But if Ketti sets her mind to it, she's going to do it."
Ringwall came off a successful high school season in the fall as a member of Dickinson's cooperative agreement with Williston. She is winding down a positive club season with the Dickinson Dolphins. Because she's only a sophomore, making it to a meet of this stature should be a positive experience for many years to come.
"It's good to know to make a meet like this and only be a sophomore in high school," Ringwall said. "By the time I'm a senior, I should be able to make faster meets and that would be really nice I could do that. It's nice to see all the hard work paying off."
With the amount of swimmers at sectionals, Ringwall wants to soak up as much knowledge as she can in the four days she'll spend in the pool.
"I'm going to be able to go there and watch all these really good swimmers," she said. "I'm going to be able to learn from them and I could probably talk to them and become friends with them."
Though Ringwall still has two more years of high school swimming left, Roller said there will be scouts and people watching her this week.
"She'll have a lot more mees coming up to get her name out in the USA swimming organization," Roller said. "This first meet isn't a do or die, it's more for experience. They'll be scouts there and they'll be people watching. If her times improve, they'll keep an eye on it."