Platte County juniors lead way to 2nd in inaugural home invitational

BRYCE MERENESS/Citizen photo Platte County junior Olivia Forrester swims in the 200-yard freestyle during the first Platte County Invitational held Saturday, Jan. 23 at Platte County Community Center North in Platte City. A standout junior class continued to shine for the Pirates in their inaugural Platte County Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 23 at the Platte County Community Center North.

Platte County won four of the 12 events and earned second place out of six in the team standings with 392 points, just ahead of Suburban Conference Blue Division foe Belton (380), but well behind St. Joseph Central for the team championship (572). Hannah Havemeier won two individual golds for the Pirates, while Hailee Baer topped the 500-yard freestyle field.

Both juniors, Havemeier and Baer are part of Platte County’s small contingent qualified for the Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships with more hopeful of earning marks in the limited chances left. The Pirates didn’t have any new state times in the inaugural event but picked up more valuable experience.

BRYCE MERENESS/Citizen photo Platte County junior Rachel Valentine competes in the 200-yard medley relay during the first Platte County Invitational held Saturday, Jan. 23 at the Platte County Community Center North in Platte City.

“This meet would have not been nearly as beneficial if we hadn’t been swimming against girls who had outstanding times,” Platte County coach Kenna Sampsell said. “They knew they had to step up and that probably made all the difference.”

Havemeier and Baer went 1-2 in the 100 butterfly, while Havemeier beat junior teammate Rachel Valentine for the top spot in the 200 individual medley. Baer came in more than 15 seconds ahead of Belton’s Bailee Strickland in the 500, finishing in 5 minutes, 59.92 seconds.

Platte County’s other gold came from Skylear Perkins, who edged out Belton’s Marisa Palmer by 1 point to claim the 1-meter diving competition.

Valentine also came in second in the 100 breaststroke at 1:13.56, about 2 seconds back of Central’s Audrey Schank. Platte County’s final runner-up finish came from Rachel Gilbert in the 100 backstroke.

So far this season, Valentine and Havemeier have the lone state individual state cuts for Platte County, both in the 100 breaststroke, while both are also part of the state bound 200 medley relay team along with Baer and Bailey Newell. The Pirates’ medley team came in second to Central in the meet’s opening event with Gilbert subbed in for Newell — absent while attending a show-choir competition — for the backstroke leg.

Valentine and Havemeier are both repeat state qualifiers.

Platte County’s only other swimmer to appear in multiple state meets as an individual was Stephanie Jacobsen who went all four years of her career from 1999-2002. Last year, Havemeier, Valentine, Baer and Lauren Earnest all made individual state cuts along with teaming up at state for the 200 medley relay.

All four are now juniors, but Earnest is out for the season due to a shoulder injury.

Park Hill South 118, Park Hill 67

The Panthers bested their rivals on a rescheduled senior night Thursday, Jan. 21 at Park Hill District Aquatic Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Moved back two days due to inclement weather, the meet featured three Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships cuts, including a pair for Park Hill South freshman Georgia Clark. Overall, the Panthers won 10 of 12 events, including two for Clark in individual events.

Clark won the 50 freestyle (25.51), edging Park Hill’s Rebecca Shaw by just more than a quarter of a second, and the 100 breastroke (1:10.96). She posted state cuts in both events and also swam on the victorious 200 freestyle relay team with Kirsten Aken, Ava Kinsland and Allison Garrett.

Tori Beeler and Garrett both posted a pair of individual wins and swam on the 200 medley relay team with Anna Riekhof, Maggie Hickey and Maryn Burns. Hickey topped the field in the 100 freestyle. Beeler’s wins were in the 200 and 500 freestyle, while Garrett took the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke.

Taylor Young rounded out the individual winners for Park Hill South in the 1-meter diving competition (243.35). Park Hill’s Devon Hendry finished second at 238.05 — good enough to qualify her for state. Young and Dani Proffitt previously qualified in the event for the Panthers.

Park Hill sophomore Nani Welsh won the 200 individual medley in 2:17.89, and the Trojans closed the meet by winning the 400 freestyle relay by more than 17 seconds.