Marnie Jenkins would be excited regardless of the task at hand.
Always flashing an enthusiastic smile, Platte County’s new head coach can’t wait to get to work — even if she’s tasked with developing new talent after losing a record-setting crop of seniors from a year ago. Jenkins spent last season as an assistant with the girls and boys teams, remaining in that role for the fall.
However, Jenkins now replaces Kenna Sampsell as the girls head coach, bringing with her plenty of notable experience.
“I am so excited to be part of the Pirate community and to work with such great students and swimmers here,” said Jenkins, who served as the successful head coach of both swim teams at St. Joseph Central for more than a decade prior to coming to Platte County. “The community is invested in the swim team, and we have programs in place to ensure success with our team through the YMCA.
“We are reaping the rewards of these teams.”
In the past four years, Platte County won a Suburban Conference Blue Division title (2015) and maintained a steady presence in the Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships.
The Pirates’ 200-yard medley relay qualified for state each of the past three seasons with departed seniors Rachel Valentine, Hannah Havemeier, Hailee Baer and Olivia Forrester a big part of the success. Valentine, Havemeier and Baer were all individual qualifiers during their career.
Last spring, Valentine signed with St. Peter’s University in Jersey City, N.J. to become the first Division I product in program history.
Valentine set the school record in the 100 breaststroke during her third straight state appearance in the event as a senior. She bettered the mark she set as a junior while qualifying for the state consolation final, eventually placing 16th and becoming just the second honorable mention all-state performer for Platte County.
Despite the new school record, Valentine did not medal again at state last year.
Havemeier left with the 200 freestyle and 200 individual medley school records, setting both last year to break marks Baer previously held.
Platte County senior Bailey Newell swam on last year’s 200 medley team at state, a group that outperformed its seed by 10 places and just missed becoming a consolation finalist. In addition, senior Riley Schmidt served as an alternate on that team and will be counted on to play a bigger role this year.
Jenkins also noted senior Emily Kruse will be a key to scoring points in duals and meets, set to return to 1-meter diving.
Platte County hopes to benefit not only from more instruction from Jenkins but the new classification system. Like in the boys season, the state will have two classes for the Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships, adding “consideration cuts” to the qualifying system, potentially allowing more swimmers and divers to advance to state.
“I love this new system with swimmers having consideration times and chances to make the state meet that seemed impossible previous years,” Jenkins said. “Our girls team will greatly benefit from the two-class system. There’s a new excitement in the swim community where there are many more opportunities for a more fair and level playing field.”