Before going up on the wall, members of the girls team stared at some of the names and times and wondered aloud who Stephanie Jacobsen was and why she still held so many of the marks. Then they set about adding their own names in more spots and rewriting the records on the board.
“It’s kind of cool seeing our names up there, too,” Platte County sophomore Hannah Havemeier said.
So far, Platte County swimmers have set seven school records with more in sight. The Pirates have also qualified two individuals — Havemeieir and fellow sophomore Lauren Earnest — and the 200-yard medley relay for the upcoming Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships to end a 10-plus-year drought.
The last representative for Platte County at state was a 2003 relay featuring Jill VanWinkle, Brea Shockey, Chelsea Balch and Julie Allis. Jacobsen qualified for state in each of her four years from 1999-2002.
Prior to this season, those were the only state qualifiers in program history for the Pirates.
“Once I got started, everyone else kind of followed,” Havemeier said. “I don’t know about everybody else, but I know that after last season, it was one of my big goals to make a state cut so I trained really hard with my club team outside of school. I know the other girls did, too.
“Everybody has improved so much over the past season; it’s amazing.”
Havemeier broke the skid on Dec. 13 during the Winnetonka Invitational, meeting the state qualifying standard in the 100 breaststroke.
Earnest followed a week later at the Independence Invitational with a state mark in the 50 freestyle and then became the first Platte County swimmer to qualify during competition at the Pirates’ new home facility. She finished in a school-record 56.19 in the 100 freestyle during a dual with St. Joseph Central on Jan. 27, breaking the previous mark Jacobsen set in 2002.
In between, Havemeier made the cut in the 100 butterfly (1:02.94 on Jan. 20), and the 200 medley relay that includes Havemeier, Earnest, Rachel Valentine and Hailee Baer — all sophomores — on the same day.
Both occurred during a record-setting performance at the Kansas City Classic.
The 200 medley relay and the same group in the 200 freestyle relay both set new school records, helping Platte County to an 11th-place finish out of 21 against stiff competition.
Baer, Valentine and Olivia Forrester still have a chance to add to the state contingent and are close in various events entering the Suburban League Blue Division Championships, set for Feb. 6 and 7 in Gladstone, Mo.
“We were so close last year to sending swimmers to state,” Earnest said, “and now that we’re sending four swimmers and possibly more qualifiers if we get them at conference, that’s amazing to have Platte County represented there.”
Platte County’s youthful contingent has excelled under first-year coach Kenna Sampsell, who took over after serving as assistant last year.
The Pirates hope to compete for the league title this weekend, thanks to a big boost from its new facility. They have added multiple divers, increasing their scoring potential at meets that include the event.
With a new facility to call home and a new record board to keep rewriting, Platte County’s swimmers now believe they are building for the future and creating a new tradition — starting with the best season in program history.