Caden DeLay finally chased down a time he’s sought for years.
Swimming in the fourth annual Platte County Invitational, Platte County’s star senior not only won the 50-yard freestyle but posted an automatic qualifying time for the Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships. DeLay finished in 22.67 seconds to beat Smithville freshman Nathan Noll to the wall by 0.13 at Platte County Community Center North.
DeLay factored in three of Platte County’s four individual victories, helping the Pirates claim the team title on a special day.
“What’s not special about it?” said DeLay, a state qualifier each of the past two seasons in the breaststroke but now a first-time qualifier in the 50 freestyle. “I fought for that all year last year and this season, too. Seeing the home crowd, the home pool, all my guys behind the block rooting for me, it was awesome. There’s no words to describe it.”
Last season, DeLay was the only state qualifier for Platte County, going in just the one event.
However, the state’s new classification system could offer more opportunities this year. The consideration state cuts for the smaller of two classes should be more likely to produce additional qualifiers with the top non-auto qualifiers being used to assure each event has 32 participants.
DeLay now has a pair of individual state cuts with plans to qualify in as many events as possible in his final season.
“Definitely make a few more. This definitely isn’t the end for my state cuts. I’m not going to quit trying,” DeLay said.
All three of Platte County’s relays in the 12-team home invitational finished in the top two and have posted consideration times, and the Pirates ended up with 491 points — easily outdistancing Raytown (360) for the title.
DeLay started the day on Platte County’s victorious 200 medley team with senior Jerry Orozco, junior Alex Beall and sophomore Rhett Spell. The Pirates’ 4x200 (Hunter Bowen, Baxter Stone, DeLay and Spell) and 4x400 (Joe Ragone, Orozco, Beall and Bowen) were both second.
The 4x200 team is about 5 seconds off an auto state cut, giving Platte County a chance to have a relay back at state for the first time since 2015.
DeLay also won the 100 breaststroke (1:01.40) after qualifying for state in the event in a season-opening dual, while Beall missed an auto cut in the 100 backstroke by about a quarter of a second. Beall won in 58.14.
Orozco, another senior, made another consideration cut with a second-place finish in the 200 individual medley. His time of 2:18.04 was just .05 of a second under the requirement.
“A lot of those younger guys stepped up,” DeLay said. “I’m even more happy with them than I am making a state cut. It’s awesome to see the team grow and what we can become. There’s a lot of potential. It’s going to be an awesome year.”
Ragone, a sophomore, participated in the meet’s most exciting finish.
Ahead for the first 400 yards, Ragone ended up second in the 500 freestyle to St. Pius X’s Blaise McCoy, who finished in 5:39.49. Ragone lost the lead late but still shaved more than 16 seconds off his previous career best, coming in at 5:39.81.
The crowd in the natatorium loudly cheered both swimmers through the final lap with McCoy holding off a late charge.
“I could definitely hear them. It’s encouraging,” said Ragone, who needs to shave another 5-plus seconds off to make a state consideration cut in the event. “It’s a little mix of (accomplishment and disappointment). I’m really happy with my time drop. It’s a really good thing and puts me really close to consideration, but it’s a little disappointing because I had him in the first 400, and then, you know, you win some, you lose some.”
Park Hill South’s Jackson Garrett won the 100 backstroke and led Park Hill South’s balanced effort in the Ozarks Invitational held over the weekend in Springfield, Mo.
Despite winning just one event, the Panthers won the team title with 300 points, beating Glendale by just six points. Park Hill wound up third with 289 with the remaining 14 teams well back of the top three.
Garrett lowered his state cut in the 100 backstroke with a 54.88, while also finishing third in the 200 individual medley. Park Hill South’s 200 medley relay (Garrett, Patrick Hefferren, Isaac Lee and Cody Beeler) posted the Panthers’ other automatic qualification time, placing third in 1:45.16.
Park Hill posted three state cuts and 13 consideration times overall in the meet.
After diver Mark Foster became the Trojans’ first state qualifier in a season-opening dual with Rockhurst, the Trojans added a sophomore long-distance specialist and two relays to the list. Alex Dunlevy came in third in the 500 freestyle at 5:03.91 to place third and earn a return trip to state.
Park Hill posted a pair of victories in the relays with both hitting automatic state cuts.
The 200 freestyle team of Zack O’Conor, Hunter Dieffenbach, Nick Dieffenbach and Jordan Timmerman finished in 1:34.26 — 0.23 under the required mark. The 400 freestyle team of Dunlevy, Timmerman, Nick Dieffenbach and Sam Duesterhaus won by more than a full second at 3:28.58 and came in 0.41 of a second under the qualifying mark.
Platte County topped a field of five that included all four North Kansas City School District schools Tuesday, Aug. 22. In the final team standings, the Pirates had 661 points, more than 140 better than runner-up Staley.
Overall, Platte County won just 2 of 12 events but displayed its depth. DeLay topped the 100 freestyle field with a state consideration time of 51.36, while the Pirates’ 400 freestyle team of DeLay, Orozco, Beall and Ragone won in 3:43.29, well within the consideration time range.
Park Hill South 388, Blue Springs South 342, Blue Springs 311
The Panthers were victorious in a three-team dual Tuesday, Aug. 22 but didn’t add any automatic qualifying times for the Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships. The meet produced numerous consideration times for all three teams.
Park Hill South won seven of 12 events, including all three relays.
Garrett (100 butterfly), Lee (50 freestyle), Beeler (100 backstroke) and freshman Zander Livingston (100 breaststroke) were individual winners for the Panthers. Garrett, Beeler and Lee were on the victorious 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays, while Livingston swam anchor on the 400 freestyle team.
Hefferen (200 medley), Isaac Smith (200 freestyle) and Zane Reavley, Clell Burdiss and Alex Kubicki (400 freestyle) rounded out the relays.