KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Park Hill South will send its largest contingent of swimmers in school history to the Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships, scheduled for Nov. 7-8 at Rec-Plex in St. Peters, Mo. One year removed from a 12th-place team showing, 11 Panthers will make the trip looking to move up in the standings.“It’s just a matter of preparing like we do every year,” Park Hill South coach Steven De La Piedra said. “Our talent is pretty high this year. Our senior class and our sophomore class account for nine of our 11.
“We just have fast kids this year.”
Park Hill South is represented in every event except for the 50-yard freestyle.
Senior Travis Colpitts returns after a seventh-place showing in the 100 butterfly a year ago — the Panthers’ top individual finish. Park Hill South lost only one swimmer who scored points at state last year — Chase Riekhof, a member of all three state qualifying relay teams.
“It’s huge (to have the returning experience),” De La Piedra said. “Usually kids, especially freshman, who swim for the first time at state, they usually don’t do as well. It’s such a big stage, and it kind of freaks them out. Now that the majority of the team has state experience, it makes a big difference. They know how to prepare because they’ve done it before.”
Park Hill sends seven swimmers to state, five individuals and two as members of the Trojans three relay teams.
Senior Barry Chang earned qualifying marks in every individual event but will swim in the 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley at the state meet. He took home consolation medals at state last year in those same events.
Marcin Glebocki will look to improve on his silver and bronze medals from last year in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle, respectively.
“Using the knowledge we can set our minds right and prepare ourselves physically and mentally,” Glebocki said. “We’re just looking at the end goal and what we want the results to be. We’re looking at how this season has gone and what kind of result we can produce.”
Park Hill finished 11th as a team a year ago and also lost just one member who scored at state — Emiliano Alvarez, who swam the third leg of the Trojans’ sixth-place 200 freestyle relay with Chang, Glebocki and Danny Jones. Now a sophomore, Jones will compete for the second time at the state meet and will swim on all three of the Trojans’ state-bound relays in addition to the 100 butterfly, which he also qualified for as a freshman.
Park Hill sophomore Evan Donnelly will also look to improve from the consolation heat to the championship heat in the 500 freestyle. The underclassman finished 15th at state a year ago in the event (4:54.00) and has improved his qualifying time this year at the last meet of the year, finishing in a dead heat with Park Hill South’s Ian Morgan (4:53.34) to split the Suburban League Red Division crown.
The mark is 10th-best heading into this weekend’s finals.
“It mentally sets us up well to try and go after the Park Hill swimmers,” Morgan said. “We’ll try even harder at state to do better.” Park Hill South will also send Ben Milburn (100 backstroke), Cody Beeler (100 breaststroke), Luke Lanning (100 backstroke, 200 IM), Stephen Heit (200 IM), Conner Morris (500 freestyle), Tyler Dunn (100, 200 freestyle) and Lewis Lundy (500 freestyle) to state.
Jered Weger qualified in two events (200 freestyle and 500 freestyle) to round out the individual qualifiers for Park Hill.