ST. PETERS – One thing was missing Saturday from Nathalia Mello's routine: her stuffed toy, Donnie.
Donnie sits next to Mello before her swim events. "I had him here yesterday, but he didn't come today," Mello said. Donnie usually comes with Mello to her meets and is a part of premeet ritual.
Mello, a junior at Hickman, competed in the 100-yard breaststroke and the 200-yard individual medley, in which she placed fifth , at the MSHSAA Girls' State Swimming Championships. Mello scored Hickman's only points in the championships, which earned the Kewpies a 23rd-place finish.
"I've always placed seventh in that category, so placing fifth is a good sign," Mello said.
Mello said she could tell it was going to be a good event because she started off fast and was able to keep her speed and momentum up.
She also had the team and her family cheering her on. Her parents, Cesar and Magda came with sisters, Nicole and Bianca. Also, Mello's boyfriend, Elliot, was in attendance.
"The state team was smaller this year, but we also had girls that didn't make state come to cheer us on," Mello said.
Hickman and Rock Bridge coach John Hamilton said that Mello is a team builder.
"I hope she stays with us next year," Hamilton said. "She is outgoing and has an electrifying personality."
Mello already has goals set for her senior year at Hickman.
"I want to get at least a top-three finish and break a school record," Mello said. "I am really close to breaking the individual-medley record."