Park Hill dropped to 18th in the team standings at last year’s Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships, and after a record three-year run that included two state trophies for top-four finishes, the Trojans will be looking to build the next generation.
The majority of the swimmers responsible for Park Hill’s 48 state points graduated, including individual medalists Daniel Spielhagen and Danny Jones. The Trojans also medaled two relays at state, but sophomore Jordan Timmerman will be the only returner from the 10th-place 200-yard freestyle and 11th-place 400-yard freestyle teams with Sean Cogley also lost to graduation.
A small senior class will now take on the big task of attempting to keep Park Hill among the state’s elite teams.
“It’s just their turn and they’ll have to step up and that’s been our motto the past couple of years, ‘Next person up,’” Park Hill coach Karl Haley said. “They’re a great group of kids. A lot of them worked hard over the summertime so the good news is the juniors and seniors have been around for a couple years, and we’re doing well at state and know what the expectation is.
“It’s just their time to lead.”
In addition to the state medalists, Park Hill also lost qualifiers AJ Patrick and Thor Mardis, but the fleet isn’t entirely depleted.
Timmerman posted a state cut in the 100 freestyle as a freshman, as did Alex Dunlevy, another sophomore, in the 500 freestyle. The Trojans qualified all three relays for state last year, and senior Zack O’Conor and junior Nick Dieffenbach were both a part of the 200 medley team along with Mardis and Cogley that was 27th in preliminaries.
“We lost a lot of our good people last year, but we’ve got a lot of new talent this year it looks like,” O’Conor said. “There’s a lot of freshmen becoming sophomores that are super good a lot of juniors this year that are good so I’m feeling pretty good about this season.”