For the past 12 years, swimming has been a focus of Hannibal senior Kay å life. Now she is taking her talents to the next level after signing a partial scholarship to swim with the NCAA Division II Panthers at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri Wednesday morning.
For Gieseke, the idea of going away to college was finding the right fit.
“Drury felt like home,” Gieseke said. “I liked the size, it wasn’t too big and it wasn’t too small.
While Drury is a four and a half hour drive from Hannibal, the distance does not bother Gieseke.
“I am pretty open minded,” Gieseke said. “I am ready to get away from home for a little bit, but I also know that I can always come home when I need to.”
Gieseke’s parents, Ron Gieseke and Hannibal swim coach Brenda Hallbauer were both on hand to watch as their daughter signed her letter of intent.
“It is really exciting,” Hallbauer said of her daughter signing with Drury. “I hope it is what she has wanted to do. It is a little nerve-wracking at the same time as she will be far away.”
“It is very exciting and I am proud of here,” Ron Gieseke said. “She has worked hard to get to this point. I am looking forward to seeing her swim in college. I think she has a lot more to give the college team.”
Gieseke’s main swim events are the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle
“I am usually in a couple of relays,” Gieseke said. “It just depends on what teammates we have that can fit the parts.”
Getting a chance to meet the swim team and the swim coaches helped to seal the deal for Gieseke.
“The coaches were very friendly,” Gieseke said. “They have a great coaching staff and the swim team was very welcoming and friendly. They made me feel like I was a part of the team already.”
Since 1997, the Drury women’s swim team has won the NCAA Division II National Championship eight times. Before moving to Division II, Drury won three straight NAIA swim championships in 1992-1994
“I am hoping she has a really good positive experience,” Hallbauer said. “Drury goes to NCAA Division II nationals and I hope she is a part of the group that gets to go with them to that meet.”
The Lady Panthers have also finished as the runner-up eight times since 1997, including a runner-up finish for the 2011/2012 season when Drury lost the national championship to Wayne State by one point.
“Drury is a nationally ranked swimming team,” Ron Gieseke said. “They are in the top four for their women. They have a very good program and I am excited to see their coach take her.”
While at Drury, Gieseke plans to enroll in the pre-chiropractic program. Gieseke has been seeing a chiropractor regularly since the eighth grade to keep her back in alignment. With as much time spent around that service, it is something that has come to interest her.
“They have a great chiropractic program that I was looking into,” Gieseke said. “The idea of starting to meet new people and be open to new experiences is exciting.”