Platte County unable to defend Blue Division title; Park Hill South wins 15th straight Red title

BRYCE MERENESS/Citizen photo Platte County junior Hailee Baer competes in the 500-yard freestyle at the Suburban Conference Blue Division Swimming and Diving Championships on Saturday, Feb. 6 at the Gladstone Community Center in Gladstone, Mo. GLADSTONE, Mo. — Platte County set four new school records Saturday, Feb. 6 at the Suburban Conference Blue Division Swimming and Diving Championships, but ultimately couldn’t defend the league title.

Platte County finished with 434 points — 74 behind champion Kearney and 27 behind Belton, which finished second at Gladstone Community Center. Last season, Platte County finished second but eventually received the title after a Kearney relay was disqualified days later.

There will be no repeat of that scenario, but Platte County still enjoyed its performance, which also included a new Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships qualifier and three improved state cuts.

“It was an amazing day,” Platte County coach Kenna Sampsell said. “The girls outswam themselves in every event. Every single person improved their very best times. We were so proud. We couldn’t have asked for more.”

Platte County junior Olivia Forrester made her first individual state cut of the season in the 100-yard breaststroke, joining teammates Hannah Havemeier and Rachel Valentine as qualifiers in that event. Platte County went 1-2-3 in the breaststroke with Havemeier claiming first place in 1 minute, 9.88 seconds to set a new school record. Valentine was second in 1:11.18, while Forrester came in third at 1:12.42 — .07 of a second under the requisite time to advance to state, scheduled for Friday, Feb. 19 and Saturday, Feb. 20 in St. Peters, Mo.

“I just got really excited,” Forrester said. “This happened last year too where I made my state cut in the finals of conference. It gives me a lot of confidence. It means a lot (to make state). Some of my best friends are on the team, and I love spending time with them.”

Havemeier and Valentine also bettered their state cuts in the breaststroke.

Platte County’s 200 medley relay team of Havemeier, Valentine, Hailee Baer and Bailey Newell did the same while setting a school record. The quartet of juniors improved their previous mark, winning the event in 1:57.08. The previous record came last year when Valentine, Baer, Havemeier and Lauren Earnest set the mark.

Earnest, a junior, was forced to miss this season with a shoulder injury.

Baer also bettered the school records in the 200 IM, coming in second (2:24.58) and winning the 500 freestyle (5:41.69).

Havemeier collected the only other swimming win in the 100 freestyle (57.53). She held off a late charge from Kearney’s Katelynn Taylor who finished less than half of a second back after coming in as the top seed.

“It feels awesome; I have no words,” Havemeier said. “I haven’t won anything individually — ever — at conference.”

Platte County’s only other win came in the 1-meter diving competition with junior Skylear Perkins setting a new school record with 338.95 points in the 11-dive meet to lead a 1-2 finish for the Pirates. Abi Newman, a freshman, claimed second place in the event.

Havemeier, Valentine and Forrester and the 200 medley team will look to score team points at state for the first time since 2001. Stephanie Jacobsen — Platte County’s only swimmer to make an individual state cut before last year — finished 13th in the 50 yard freestyle as a junior that season.

Havemeier currently owns the 16th fastest time recorded in the state this season.

“I’m really excited for state,” Havemeier said. “I can’t wait to see how much time the team can drop off. I was really excited to see my time. I was really excited for Olivia, too, because she qualified for state. It’s really great. We’re all super close and have been since freshman year so it’s great we can go to state together again.”

Suburban Conference Red Division Championships

Park Hill South overcame a pair of false starts in relays to win a 15th straight league title Saturday, Feb. 6 in Independence, Mo.

Losing out on up to 80 points without the two relays, Park Hill South finished with 537½ points to barely hold off Park Hill (508½) — winners of three events while setting or improving seven Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships qualifying times. The Panthers won seven events but possibly missed out on two others that Park Hill ended up winning.

Paige Reikhof and Tori Beeler won two individual events apiece for Park Hill South while swimming with Georgia Clark and Allison Garrett on the 400 freestyle relay team, which won in 3:40.78 over Park Hill. Beeler’s win in the 200 individual medley was part of a critical 1-2-3-4 finish for the Panthers in that event with Clark, Garrett and Anna Reikhof right behind her.

Park Hill South scored 68 points from those four in that event, helping make up for the more than 80-point swing in the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays — both wins for Park Hill — with the Panthers disqualified.

Beeler also won the 100 freestyle in 52.96 with Park Hill’s Nani Welsh (second) and Meg Feeley (fourth in a state time of 55.86) behind her. Paige Reikhof topped the 200 freestyle (1:58.14) and 100 butterfly (59.63), while Anna Reikhof’s win in the 100 breaststroke was part of a 1-2-3 finish for the Panthers. Garrett and Kirsten Aken were second and third in the breaststroke.

Abigail Culp collected Park Hill’s lone individual win in a state qualifying time of 5:28.28 in the 500 freestyle.

However, Brooklynn Pierce (fourth in 50 freestyle, 25.75), Nerissa Wagner (third in 100 backstroke, 1:03.51) and Sophia Lane (fourth in 100 breaststroke, 1:12.48) all posted state times for the Trojans. Wagner’s time of 1:02.81 came in the prelims for the backstroke.

Wagner, Lane, Pierce and Sarah Strube won the 200 medley relay for Park Hill with Park Hill South disqualified in preliminaries. The Trojans also set a state time in the finals at 1:57.14 to hold off Liberty. Rebecca Shaw, Feeley, Pierce and Welsh were on the 200 freestyle relay team that won by nearly 8 seconds with the Panthers disqualified, posting the state’s sixth-best time in the event at 1:42.83.

Park Hill South’s Dani Proffit won the 1-meter diving competition.