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February 27, 2020

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Ada's Katayama to swim at Marshall

Signed a letter of intent to compete at Division I school

By Cort Reynolds
ADA - Ada senior swimming ace Klava Katayama recently signed a letter of intent to attend and compete for Div. I Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia.

Katayama is seeking to become the first four-time state qualifier in Bulldog program history this winter. She is also believed to be the first Div. I swim product from Ada.

Klava reported that the scholarship she is receiving is 76 percent athletics, 24 percent academics. The Thundering Herd swim team competes in Conference USA, along with schools such as Rice, Florida International, North Texas and Florida Atlantic.

She also visited Div. II University of Tampa, Queens College (N.C.) and Drury (Mo.) before settling on Marshall. Ohio Northern University, where her father teaches, was never a serious option.

"All the girls on the swim team (at Marshall) were very welcoming," she explained of her decision. "The campus is not too big – it is a bigger campus, but it has a small-campus feel to it."

She also noted that it is a four-plus hour drive from home in Ada. The school is located near the intersection of south central Ohio, northeastern Kentucky and western West Virginia. Huntington's population is just over 49,000, but the Huntington-Ashland (Ky.) metropolitan area is around 287,000.

Katayama visited Marshall the weekend of Sept. 14 and the head coach (Ian Walsh) invited her to his home, which impressed the Bulldog senior and helped cement her decision. 

Marshall's enrollment is just over 13,000 students, with approximately 9,600 of those being undergraduates. The school was founded in 1837. 

Probably the most famous ex-Marshall athletes are NBA Hall of Fame guard Hal Greer and former NFL quarterback Byron Leftwich. 

She intends to major in exercise science and kinesiology. "I really love health and exercise," she said regarding her field of study choice. "They are also building a Ph.D program there for exercise science."

Katayama also noted that one of her good friends from Columbus is going to Marshall, but she made her decision independent of that.

She expects to concentrate on the freestyle and butterfly events in college.

When asked what she needs to improve on to excel at Marshall, she said, "Just a lot of technical things with my strokes and underwater turns...mainly fine tuning."

Her high school coach Stephanie Steiner-McMahon agreed. "Klava is an awesome swimmer," said the second-year Bulldog coach. "I am very excited for her and I hope Marshall is everything she wants, and more."

Last season, Klava finished fourth in the 50-yard freestyle (23.77) and touched sixth in the 100 butterfly (56.91) at the 43rd girls Div. II state swim meet in Canton.

Before she heads off to Marshall though, Katayama hopes to improve on those strong finishes and maybe even finish atop the podium at the 2020 state meet.