One cut built on another, and Platte County ended up with a breakthrough stretch of three days, posting five Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships qualifying times during the Suburban Conference Blue Division championships.
Starting with Bryce Bearden in 1-meter diving on Thursday, the Pirates upped their total of qualified events from two to seven while finishing second in the final team standings in the five-team league meet held Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 22-24 at Lee’s Summit District Aquatic Center in Lee’s Summit, Mo. Prior to this year, they had not posted a state cut in any event since 2010 but made sure the drought ended in style.
Platte County claimed just two conference championships in their attempt to defend the school’s Blue Division title but now can look ahead to state in earnest. The state meet will be held next weekend at Rec-Plex in St. Peters, Mo.
“I felt like it was my deed to make state and drop time,” said Caden DeLay, who qualified for state in the 100-yard breaststroke and as part of the 200 medley relay team. “I went into that race angry at myself (for swimming a slower time in preliminaries). I wanted to prove to myself and those around me that I can do this, and I’m here now.”
Bearden didn’t even win the diving competition but finished second to senior teammate Justin Richardson, the first Platte County athlete to qualify for state this season. Richardson bettered his own school record and state qualifying mark by more than 40 points by posting a 397.1. Bearden finished second at 392.65 to easily book his spot, too.
That proved to be only the start of a memorable weekend.
During the swimming preliminaries on Friday, the 200 medley relay team of DeLay, Cogdill, Josh Richardson and Nick Kunels finally cracked the state mark but ended up finishing second to Kearney in Saturday’s final. The Pirates’ time of 1 minute, 44.68 seconds eclipsed the state standard by more than a second. Their 1:43.55 time in the finals also broke the school record in the event.
Cogdill qualified in the 100 breaststroke the previous week, but the other three members of the relay set sites on making their individual state cuts.
Close in two events this season, Kunels came in second to Kearney’s Grant Sloan in the 50 freestyle, but the Pirates senior turned in a 22.53 effort to qualify after just missing in the preliminaries. Kunels also placed second in the 100 freestyle but did not qualify for state in that event.
“I hate to leave a job unfinished,” Kunels said. “I did what I had to do, and I’m glad it got me where I am. It felt like a weight had been lifted (after the relay qualification). I know now I’m going, and I know I had to go for myself and not just as a relay. I feel like it was a domino effect. Once one got it it all started to fall.”
Josh Richardson also placed second en route to a state berth in the 100 butterfly (56.34). He finished well behind Kearney’s Austin Wolfe (53.00), one of 10 event winners for the Bulldogs — team champions over the Pirates by a score of 557-468.
Platte County’s lone win in swimming came in the 200 freestyle relay. DeLay, Kunels, Josh Richardson and Dalton Huntley won by more than 2 seconds to claim the conference championship (1:34.91), but their time missed the state cut (1:34.49) by just under a half second.
Cogdill and DeLay took third and fourth, respectively, in the 100 breaststroke to again improve Platte County’s state contingent. Cogdill — already qualified after beating the mark on Tuesday, Oct. 13 in a dual with St. Joseph Central — bettered his mark (1:03.12) while DeLay finished with a 1:03.98 to earn his first individual trip to the state meet.
Platte County last had a swimmer compete in the state meet in 2009 (Drew Cordova) and hadn’t had multiple qualifiers since 2008.
Suburban Conference Red Division
Park Hill South pulled away late to claim its first Suburban Conference Red Division title since 2012.
Coming in 1-2-3-4 in the 100 breaststroke, the Panthers essentially wrapped up the title in that event. Daniel Miller took home the gold (1:03.61) followed by Cody Beeler (1:04.42), Lewis Lundy (1:04.75) and Patrick Hefferren (1:05.07).
The quartet scored 68 team points to put Park Hill South ahead for good over second-place Park Hill.
All Park Hill South had to do to win the title was avoid a disqualification in the 400 freestyle relay — essentially the difference after Park Hill had its 200 medley team disqualified in the first event of the day. Even a last-place place finish would have propelled the Trojans over the 25-point winning margin for the Panthers (491-466).
Park Hill took home wins in six of the 12 events, while Park Hill South claimed just two conference championships — Miller and freshman Garrett Jackson in the 100 backstroke (54.44), which also booked him a trip to the Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships.
Park Hill senior Marcin Glebocki took home four golds winning the 50 and 100 freestyle and swimming a leg on the conference champion 200 freestyle (Jered Weger, Sean Cogley and Danny Jones) and 400 freestyle (Daniel Spielhagen, Weger and Jones) relay teams.
Weger claimed the 200 freestyle (1:47.73), and Jones topped the 200 individual medley field (2:02.85), coming in more than two seconds ahead of Park Hill South’s Stephen Heit in second (2:05.27).