A good pack runner, Abby Ketelsen was very instrumental in the success of the Marietta High cross country team on the race course last fall.
Keeping pace with the likes of orange and black teammates' Erica Dawson and Julie Fobes, she helped the Lady Tiger harriers place consistently at XC invitationals.
At the East Central Ohio League meet at Cambridge in mid-October, Marietta claimed the team championship, and Ketelsen finished sixth overall in a time of 20 minutes, 49.25 seconds.
RON JOHNSTON The Marietta Times
Marietta High’s Abby Ketelsen, center, signed a national letter of intent at Don Drumm Stadium Tuesday to run cross country and track at Slippery Rock University in the fall. Pictured, left to right, sitting are Brian Ketelsen (father), Abby, Wendy Ketelsen (mother), and Emily Ketelsen (sister). Standing, left to right, are Larry Cassady (MHS assistant coach), Dale Leeper (MHS head cross country coach), and Mollie Schramm (MHS head girls track coach).
"Abby has been a bedrock performer for cross country," said MHS cross country coach Dale Leeper. "Early in her career, she thought, as many middle distance runners do, that she was a sprinter, because she has good 200 speed.
"But she came to realize that it was really closing speed, and allowed her to become a true racer, and not just a runner."
Currently a senior at MHS, Ketelsen's cross country and track and field days are far from over after graduation this spring as she's planning to compete and continue her education at Slippery Rock University (Pa.) this upcoming fall.
In a signing ceremony at Don Drumm Stadium on Tuesday, Ketelsen declared her commitment to The Rock.
"My uncle (Eric Denton) went there to play football, so I went to take a look," Ketelsen said. "I just fell in love with the campus, and the team made me feel welcome as soon as I got there."
Ketelsen said she's planning to major in athletic training, and go into physical therapy.
"They have exactly what I want to major in," she said.
Ketelsen said she also considered going to Morehead State in Ky.
"I'm happy with my decision," she said.
Slippery Rock, an NCAA Division II school, is a member of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. Last fall, The John Papa-coached Rock placed sixth in the conference championships.
"I suspect her college coaches may not fully appreciate what's coming their way," Leeper said. "And I note that women's cross at SRU earned Team All Academic American Honors this past fall. Abby will be fully up to that challenge as well."
Ketelsen owns a 3.plus GPA at Marietta High.
Last fall on the XC courses, Ketelsen's times got better as the season progressed. At the Broughton Invite season lid-lifter, she covered the distance in 22:32.10.
She followed that up with a clocking of 23:37.9 at Warren High's Scenic Hills.
At the Pickerington North Panther XC Invite, Ketelsen ran a 21:21.
After helping Marietta win the ECOL crown, she ran a season-best 20:38.59 district time at Watkins Memorial.
Capping the season at the regional event at Pickerington North, Ketelsen was clocked at 21:21.85. At the conclusion of the campaign, she was both an ECOL and district honoree.
Currently, Ketelsen competes in four track events for the Mollie Schramm-coached Lady Tiger thinclads - the 800, long jump, 4x400 and 4x800. On Senior Night Tuesday, she even did the high jump.
"She's an excellent athlete," Schramm said. "She can do just about anything from the 1600 down and the other field events. She's just very multi-talented, and has come a long ways from a little freshman to a mature senior.
"She's an integral part of the team and does whatever I ask of her."
Leeper agreed and added, "She has a wonderful work ethic, great focus, and is a very bright young lady. She will have a fine career at SRU."