Valentine notches Platte County's 1st state swim cut; Park Hill's Welsh adds to list

Rachel Valentine became the first repeat qualifier for the Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships for Platte County in more than a decade. A junior, Valentine won the 100-meter breaststroke at the Winnetonka Holiday Invitational this past weekend to earn her qualifying mark. She also made the state field in that event last year as well as swimming a leg on the Pirates’ 200 medley relay team at state.

Prior to last season, Platte County went 10 years without a state qualifier, and Stephanie Jacobsen was the only individual qualifier in program history, going all four years from 1999-2002.

Platte County finished eighth out of 24 teams at Winnetonka, which was held Friday and Saturday, Dec. 11-12. The Pirates totaled 136½ points and were just 26½ points back of fourth.

In addition to Valentine’s first-place finish, Olivia Forrester (sixth, 1:17.23) and Hannah Sayre (15th, 1:26.34) also scored points in the breaststroke. Forrester tied for seventh in the 200 freestyle, earning 11½ team points. Newell also scored in a pair of events with a 13th-place showing in the 200 individual medley and 16th in the 100 backstroke.

Skylear Perkins came in fifth in the the 1-meter diving competition, leading four Pirates to score in the event.

Platte County Meet

The Pirates won three of five duals Tuesday, Dec. 8 at Platte County Community Center North.

Hailee Baer, Valentine and Abigail Newman won individual titles for Platte County with six total teams competing. The Pirates beat North Kansas City, Oak Park and Bishop LeBlond. They lost 100-96 to Staley and 110-90 against St. Joseph Central.

Baer won the 200 freestyle in 2:11.28, while Valentine beat teammate Hannah Havemeier by just .05 of a second in the 100 breaststroke. Newman and teammate Emily Kurse took the top two spots in the 1-meter diving with a field of nine participating.

Havemeier also finished second in the 200 individual medley to St. Joseph Central’s Audrey Schanck, but Havemeier’s time of 2:27.90 set a school record.

Park Hill Triangular

Park Hill sophomore Nani Welsh picked up the Trojans’ first state qualifying cuts during a pair of dual victories Tuesday, Dec. 8 at Park Hill District Aquatic Center in Kansas City, Mo.

A four-medal winner at state last year, Welsh won the 200 individual medley in 2:17.18 seconds and posted her 50 freestyle time as the leadoff leg of the Trojans’ winning 200 freestyle relay team, which also included Meg Feeley, Brooklynn Pierce and Rebecca Shaw. Overall, the Trojans won 10 events and beat both Kearney (131-49) and St. Pius X (138-39).

Welsh also won the 100 breaststroke along with a leg on the victorious 400 freestyle team that included Feeley, Shaw and Sophia Lane. Abigail Culp, Danielle Lindquist, Lane and Pierce combined to win the 200 medley relay for the Trojans.

Shaw also topped the field in two individual events events (200 freestyle, 500 freestyle), while Feeley (100 butterfly), Lane (100 freestyle) and Devon Hendry (1-meter diving) rounded out Park Hill’s winners.

Blue Springs South Quad

Park Hill went 2-1 in duals Saturday, Dec. 12 in Blue Springs, Mo. with three individual wins.

Welsh won the 100 freestyle in 55.43 to beat Kickapoo’s Kayla Herron by .05 of a second and added a third state qualifying time to her resume, and Culp topped the 500 freestyle for the Trojans. Lane enjoyed a comfortable victory in the 100 breaststroke (1:17.50).

Park Hill beat Nixa and Kickapoo but lost 174-139 to the hosts.

Liberty Triangular

Park Hill South won all but one event while competing against Liberty and Liberty North on Tuesday, Dec. 8 in Liberty, Mo.

In the second meet of the year, the Panthers either made a Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships qualification cut or improved an existing state time in multiple events. All three of their relays have already hit the state mark with the 400 freestyle team of Tori Beeler, Paige Riekhof, Georgia Clark and Allison Garrett winning the event in 3:42.82.

Beeler actually made her 100 freestyle individual state cut leading off the event.

Clark, a freshman, won the 100 freestyle in 56.16 and also made a state cut, her third individual mark this season. Four other events featured winners that made state cuts with multiple swimmers in that event now qualified for state.

Riekhof won the 200 individual medley (2:14.82) and 100 butterfly (59.88), joining Maggie Hickey as a qualifier in that event. Garrett finished second to Riekhoff in the IM but also made a state time (2:17.09). Ava Kinsland, a sophomore, won the 100 backstroke in a season-best 1:03.77 to join Beeler and Clark as state qualifiers in that event.

In the 100 breaststroke, Park Hill South senior Anna Riekhof beat junior teammate Kirsten Aken for the title, but both hit the state mark, joining Garrett as the Panthers’ qualifiers in that event.

Kirsten Aken (27.14, 50 freestyle) and Ericka Longenecker (5:58.61, 500 freestyle) won the shortest and longest races for Park Hill South. The 200 freestyle relay team of Beeler, Paige Riekhof, Clark and Garrett improved on the previous state qualifying time, winning the event in 1:41.86 — shaving about 3 seconds from last week’s effort.