Park Hill South brought home another team trophy from the Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships in St. Peters, Mo. last weekend.The Panthers qualified six events for the championship finals — the most in program history — on the way to a second straight third-place finish (207). Rock Bridge (295) ran away with the team title with Glendale (234½) finishing in between. Tori Beeler highlighted the list of individual honors for Park Hill South, winning two individual events on the way to swimmer of the year honors. She shared the award with Glendale junior Marcie Beairsto, who also won a pair of individual events.
Beeler also claimed a silver as a member of the 200 medley relay team along with Helen Yeater, Anna Riekhof and Maggie Hickey (1 minutes, 47.70 seconds) and a bronze as a member of the 400 freestyle relay along with Hickey, Allison Garrett and Paige Riekhof (3:34.97). All three relays set school records during the two-day meet at Rec-Plex with Maryn Burns, Paige Riekhof, Garrett and Hickey breaking the school mark in the 200 freestyle to place fifth in 1:39.55.
“I’m just real proud about how we swam,” said Park Hill South coach Tim Busenhart, who was named the Missouri Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association coach of the year. “It was a total team effort. We accomplished what we needed to do. It’s not all about one individual. We broke seven school records. All three relays were broken. Four individual events were broken, six individual all-state swims — which is the most we’ve ever had. So it’s a great accomplishment for the team.”
Beeler broke her own school records — that she set in the state final last year — in her victorious efforts in the 200 individual medley (2:03.65) and 100 backstroke (56.40). Paige Riekhof (200 freestyle) and Yeater (100 butterfly) also entered the school’s record book.
Paige Riekhof, a freshman, set the 200 freestyle mark earlier this year and broke it again in the preliminaries held on Friday, Feb. 20 with 1:54.46 effort. Her top mark earned her a spot in the championship final and all-state honors after she finished fifth in 1:55.37 — well behind Beairsto’s winning time of 1:50.29.
Yeater also set her mark in the preliminaries — the fastest of three Panthers in the 100 butterfly. She finished in 57.90 seconds earning her the No. 4 seed for the championship final but did not duplicate her sub-58 second performance and finished eighth (59.27) in the final behind teammates Hickey (sixth, 58.41) and Paige Riekhof (seventh, 58.47).
Park Hill South had 17 entries into the state meet, and 14 scored team points by reaching at least the consolation final.
“We just have to make sure that we look at, ‘Did we swim our best?’” Busenhart said. “Overall, I feel we swam our best. You can only do what you can do. As a team they just cheered each other on and continued to develop for next year.”
Park Hill finished 11th with 63 team points — six behind 10th-placed Hickman.
According to Missouri State High School Activities Association records, the Trojans recorded their best team finish since at least 2001. Online records for years prior do not exists.
Park Hill did not have an all-state individual swimmer but placed two relays in the championship finals. The freestyle relay team of Rebecca Shaw, Meg Feeley, Nani Welch and Madison Heydinger came in eighth in the 200 (1:40.12) and fifth in the 400 (3:38.16) relays — both school records.
Welch — 10th in the 100 freestyle (53.60) — was the top individual finisher for Park Hill, which sent five total events into the consolation final.
Platte County sent seven entries into championship weekend, but none made it into the top 16 in preliminaries.
The Pirates were represented at state for the first time since a relay qualified in 2003, and the four individuals — Hannah Havemeier, Lauren Earnest, Rachel Valentine and Olivia Forrester — became the only others to compete at state other than four-time state qualifier Stephanie Jacobsen (1999-2002).
Havemeier, a sophomore, came closest finishing in 24th in the 100 breaststroke preliminaries (1:11.10). Yeater grabbed the last spot in the consolation final in the event finishing in 1:10.10.
“The whole experience was very informative,” Platte county coach Kenna Sampsell said. “It was so great for the girls to qualify and then to experience the entire process. This will be very beneficial as they prepare for next year. I certainly anticipate all five qualifying plus more next year, moving on to the (state) finals.”