Wetteland always lights up a room | Sport

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“Her energy is just unparalleled,” said Los Alamos junior Allie Holland, a teammate of Wetteland on the Los Alamos swimming and track teams. “She has so much positivity and I have a lot of fun with her. She is definitely one of the few people in my life who lights up a room.”

That bubbly quality has helped her be a team leader in whatever sport she plays. Yet it goes hand in hand with the talent she possesses, whether it is completing a 5 kilometer cross country course, a 100 meter butterfly race, two laps on the track that includes the 800 or the duties of a ” Top lady.”

The first three examples were key reasons why Wetteland, who will compete for the UCLA swimming program in the fall, established himself as The new Mexican NorthStars Female Athlete of the Year.

Wetteland exuded excellence during the 2023-2024 season. She was consistently one of the top runners on the Hilltoppers’ Class 4A runner-up team, highlighted by a third-place finish at the state meet that outpaced all Los Alamos runners. Wetteland was a beacon of light in the pool, winning the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly races and being part of the state championship 200 and 400 relay teams.

In the spring, Wetteland was just as dominant, winning state titles in the 400 and 800 meter races and helping the 400 and 1,600 relay teams to first place finishes. Her 19 overall points during the 4A meet were just the dressing for the Hilltoppers team’s championship salad.

Ever the teammate, Wetteland diverted much of the attention of the NorthStars honor away from her and onto her teammates, coaches and friends.

“I’m really proud and honored that you all chose me,” Wetteland said. “Of course it feels good. It feels nice to be recognized, but that’s not why I do this. I do it to have a good time making connections and just living life to the fullest.”

It takes such a personality to be a “Top Lady,” the title given to a Los Alamos student who helps coordinate school spirit during various campus events. She took center stage at pep rallies during the school day and the student section at athletic events.

Kelly Wetteland, Anna’s sister who swims at the University of Arizona, said Anna Wetteland was practically the master of ceremonies at the graduation ceremony at Los Alamos on May 25.

“She may not have introduced all the (graduates), but she actually did the graduation assignments,” Kelly said with a chuckle.

Anna said her dedication to all her duties, whether extracurricular or academic, was to create an open and welcoming culture at the school. And the biggest thing she learned during her three years at Los Alamos — her family moved from Maryville, Tennessee, before her sophomore year — was to put herself out there and not fear the consequences.

She learned to laugh at herself as much as she did at her friends.

“It’s okay to be laughed at,” Anna Wetteland said. “The worst thing you can do is not put yourself out there and then look back and regret it.”

That personality is why she would wear crazy glasses or a tutu to track games, turn on her disco ball and dance or simply hug teammates and tell them how proud she was of them — from impressionable eighth-graders to fellow senior leaders.

“She doesn’t take herself too seriously,” Los Alamos head track coach Ernie Martinez said. “She’s not afraid to look funny. She’s not afraid to be the one to yell and scream. She’s not afraid to be the first to sing or the first to clap.

“Those are the people who keep the fun and the culture going, because some others start as soon as someone leaves, but not everyone starts doing that kind of thing.”

But don’t let that loose and fantasy-free veneer overshadow the hard work Wetteland has put into her sport. Martinez called her a grinder during workouts, and sometimes he had to get her to dial back the intensity. Wetteland responded with the perspective that she wants to get the most out of everything she does.

“If I haven’t passed out at the end, I can always do more,” Wetteland said. “I’m going to give my best every training day, whether it’s a best day or a tough day. I want to do everything I can to improve myself.”

Wetteland and her sister had already established themselves as elite swimmers while in Tennessee before moving to Los Alamos in the summer of 2021. Kelly Wetteland, a 2022 Los Alamos graduate, and Anna Wetteland were named high school All-Americans by the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association. for their performances in Maryville in the spring of 2022.

Once they arrived at Los Alamos, the sisters decided to branch out athletically. They both ran cross country and track.

“We had been swimmers all our lives so we decided to put ourselves out there and make friends however we could,” Kelly Wetteland said. “I think it was just a really, really good experience for us.”

Anna Wetteland said all their swimming training gave them stamina, so they just had to learn to run. And that, she added, wasn’t as easy as it sounded.

“The first few times I was on the track, the coaches said, ‘Are you sure you can run?’ said Anna Wetteland. ‘As if your legs are going in all directions.’ And I thought, ‘Well, it just spins.’ ”

Anna Wetteland learned quickly – fast enough to become a 2022 state champion in the 400. It was an event she dominated for the next three years, and she was literally on the run. She was part of Los Alamos’ fourth straight title team in cross-country in 2022, as well as three of the track and field program’s four consecutive titles.

But swimming was Anna Wetteland’s specialty. She won the 50 freestyle as a sophomore and junior, and the 100 butterfly all three years. She swapped the 50 for the 200 freestyle and won it easily, as her time of 1 minute, 51.74 seconds was more than 2½ minutes faster than Sienna Nordquist of Albuquerque Hope Christian.

Anna Wetteland also had the pleasure of swimming for her father Chris Wetteland, who was the Hilltoppers head coach for the past two seasons. She said it was a special experience for her, but added that she had the typical experiences that other athletes usually have when their father is their coach.

“It’s sometimes hard to get criticism from your parents,” Wetteland said. “We definitely had our moments, but overall I would say it was a positive experience. I’m so glad we got to share those two years.”

Holland said you wouldn’t know Anna Wetteland was having a bad day with the way she was acting, but she also saw how her friend handled those situations.

“I’ve always been there for her and she’s a person who I would say is very private about things like that,” Holland said. “But she lets herself feel it and then like she works it out and gets over it.”

But those obstacles seem far away for Wetteland. After all, she enjoys being the disco light that shines on everyone, including herself.