Diver becomes PC swimming's 1st state qualifier since 2009

Justin Richardson gave up swimming this season, a move that paid off early with a milestone for Platte County’s program. Solely competing on the diving board, the Pirates senior parlayed the extra work into a bid to the Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships with a qualifying score of 357.45 on Saturday, Aug. 29 at the Platte County Invitational at the Platte County Community Center North. Richardson not only won the event and helped the Pirates to the team title but became the first state qualifier for the program since 2009.

BRYCE MERENESS/Citizen photo Platte County senior Justin Richardson springs off the diving board during the Platte County Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 29 at Platte County Community Center North.

“It’s insane,” Richardson said after the meet. “I absolutely love it. I was trying very hard. I didn’t know I could qualify with 11 dives, but I’m really happy I did. I’ve been working really hard. I’ve gotten a lot of new dives this year. I’ve been trying as hard as I can, putting all I can into it.

“It’s very satisfying. I can’t wait to tell my parents.”

A late change to his diving list paved the way after Richardson substituted a dive with a higher degree of difficulty into his plans. He also earned high marks after successful execution.

That performance helped push him just past the 356-point mark needed to qualify for state. He’s the first diver in team history to make the state field and the first in any event since Drew Cordova six years ago. Richardson and teammate Bryce Bearden (second, 322½) were the lone divers to compete out of the 12 teams, earning 37 team points. Platte County ran away from the field in the final standings of the second annual event with 537 points.

Raytown South came in second with 347½.

Platte County continued to capitalize on diving points. Last year, the Pirates won both the Joe Arbisi Tiger Invitational and Suburban Blue Conference team titles last year — their first since 2012. In capturing the league title for the first time since 2009, Platte County won by just three points on a late correction with 52 team points coming from three divers.

“We do score quite a bit of points for the team,” Richardson said. “We are valued by the team. They definitely do a lot in swimming, too, so it works both ways.”

Platte County nearly qualified a swimmer to join Richardson.

John Cogdill, a junior, narrowly missed the state cut line in both of his championship performances. He claimed victory in the 100 breaststroke (1:04.60, state cut 1:04.49) and 100 butterfly (57.08, state cut. 56.49). His performance in the butterfly did better teammate Josh Richardson’s school record set last year (57.21).

Josh Richardson finished third in the event at 57.60.

“My first reaction was I won,” Cogdill said. “My second reaction was having a big grin because I know I will get there by the end of the year. It motivates me as much as I need to do what I need to do. I just have to keep trying. I’ve never stopped trying, and it’s paying off.”

Platte County sophomore Caden DeLay also won both of his individual events — the 200 individual medley (2:21.41) and the 500 freestyle (5:42.31). The only other event champion for the Piraters was the 200 medley relay team of Korey Presnell, Cogdill, Josh Richardson and Nick Kunels, which finished in 1:48.06.

Presnell earned thre second place medals — 100 backstroke (1:05.43), 200 IM (2:28.29) and on the 400 freestyle relay team with DeLay, Bailey Shepardson and Josh Richardson (3:47.27).

“We didn’t have state times in our swimmers today, but I think they were motivated,” Platte County coach Bret Anderson said. “They were a little late coming out to warm up, “I asked them, ‘Where were you guys?’ they said they had a little party in the locker room for Justin. I think (his state berth) did motivate them a lot.”

Platte County Dual

The Pirates bested a field of six teams Tuesday, Aug. 25 at Platte County Community Center North, winning 11 of 13 individual events.

John Cogdill (200-yard individual medley, 500-yard freestyle) and Bailey Shepherd (100 butterfly, 100 backstroke) won two events apiece for the Pirates, competing against Marshall, Belton, Pembroke Hill, Lincoln Prep and Kansas City East. Korey Presnell (200 freestyle), Justin Richardson (diving) and Dalton Huntley (100 freestyle) were their other winners.

In addition, Platte County swept the relays with Caden DeLay, Josh Richardson, Cogdill and Shepherd in the 200 medley; Jerry Orozco, Nick Corcoran, Josh Richardson and Huntley in the 200 freestyle; and Nick Kunels, Presnell, Cogdill and Huntley in the 400 freestyle.