Park Hill South wants another team trophy from the Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships, but the ultimate goal remains the same.
Having finished third each of the past two seasons, the Panthers need more swimmers in the finals this weekend at Rec-Plex in St. Peters, Mo. They scored 207 team points with 14 qualifiers for the finals a season ago, still not quite enough to earn an elusive state championship.
Park Hill South lost only one place winner from last year and has 43 events qualified for this season — 41 swimming times and senior Dani Proffit and freshman Taylor Young in the 1-meter diving competition. Subtract the three relays which each hold a top-10 time recorded in the state this year and it leaves 38 individual cuts.
Park Hill South senior Tori Beeler, the reigning co-swimmer of the year, freshman Georgia Clark and junior Allison Garret have 24 of those times — each qualifying in all eight individual events. Paige Reikhof, a sophomore, narrowly missed joining that club but still posting state standards in seven of eight events.
With each only able to swim four total events split between the relays and the individual events, Park Hill South coach Tim Busenhart made tough choices where to slot his top swimmers. Official entry sheets were expected out Wednesday, Feb. 17 ahead of the two-day competition scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Feb. 19.
Beeler holds top-10 times in all eight individual events and is the reigning 200-yard individual medley champion. She holds the fastest recorded time in the state this year in the event (2:05.61) and the second fastest time in the 100 breaststroke (1:03.95) and the third fastest time in the 100 freestyle (52.40).
Clark will likely swim in the 200 IM (2:10.30) and the 100 backstroke (58.08). She holds the eighth fastest time in each event heading into the weekend.
Garrett’s fastest times are also in the 200 IM (2:13.50) and the 100 breaststroke (1:09.60), while Riekhof’s best events so far are the 200 freestyle (1:58.14) and 100 butterfly (59.63).
Park Hill South senior Anna Riekhoff (100 breaststroke, 1:07.33 and 200 IM, 2:17.86), junior Ava Kinsland (50 freestyle, 25.77 and 100 backstroke, 1:02.28), senior Maggie Hickey (100 butterfly, 1:00.42), junior Kirsten Aken (100 breaststroke, 1:10.19) and senior Maryn Burns (50 freestyle, 25.43) have the other state qualifying times.
The only senior medalist lost from last year’s team was Helen Yeater, who finished eighth in the 100 butterfly and 16th in the 100 breaststroke in addition to swimming a leg on the second-place 200 medley relay team.
Park Hill finished 11th in last year’s team standings with 63 points, and the Trojans return sophomore Nani Welsh and senior Rebecca Shaw, who were big contributors last year.
This season, Welsh is qualified in five events, and the Trojans made 18 state cuts, including sophomore Devon Hendry who qualified in the 1-meter diving competition. All three relay teams made the field along with freshmen Brooklynn Pierce (100 butterfly, 1:02.41 and 50 freestyle, 25.75) and Abigail Culp (500 freestyle, 5:28.28) joining returning qualifiers junior Meg Feeleey (100 backstroke, 1:03.14 and 100 freestyle, 55.86) and sophomores Nerissa Wegner (100 backstroke, 1:02.81) and Sophia Lane (100 breaststroke, 1:12.48).
Platte County has three individuals — juniors Hannah Havemeier, Rachel Valentine and Olivia Forrester, all in the 100 breaststroke — and the 200 medley relay qualified for state. The Pirates are looking to score a point at state for the second time in school history and first since Stephanie Jacobson came in 13th in the 50 freestyle in 2002.
Havemeier set the school record in the breaststroke at the Suburban Conference Blue Division Meet and holds the 20th fastest time in the state heading into the weekend.