Park Hill South just missed a fourth consecutive team trophy from the Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships this past weekend, placing fifth behind some impressive performances from junior Paige Riekhof and sophomore Georgia Clark.
The Panthers were just 14 points out of fourth place, while Park Hill was 17th with 37 points at Rec-Plex in St. Peters, Mo. Platte County seniors Rachel Valentine and Hannah Havemeier both set personal records in their only individual event, while the Pirates made a surge up the charts in the 200-yard medley relay.
Third place each of the past three years, Park Hill South maintained its status as one of the state’s top teams over the weekend.
The Panthers posted five all-state finishes and five school records over the course of the weekend, medaling two of their three relays. Clark and Riekhof factored in four all-state showings total, including a leg on each of the top-eight relays.
Riekhof set a school record in each of her four events.
Park Hill South’s 200 medley relay (Riekhof, Clark and seniors Kirsten Aken and Allison Garrett) posted the second best time in preliminaries and held its seed with a program-best finish of 1 minute, 46.95 seconds in the final, finishing a little more than 2 seconds behind Rock Bridge. The 200 freestyle relay of Clark, Riekhof, Garrett and freshman Nadya McCullough posted a school record 1:37.89 in preliminaries for the No. 2 qualifying time, but the Panthers dropped to fifth in the final at 1:38.68.
Riekhof also set a school record in preliminaries at 1:52.38 and then placed sixth in the finals, just a tick slower at 1:52.93. The standout junior posted her school record in the 100 butterfly at 56.83 to also finish sixth, this time improving from her prelim effort.
Clark matched Riekhof for the best individual finish, also placing sixth in the 200 individual medley (2:07.31). Clark entered finals with the No. 2 time out of preliminaries (2:05.91), and Garrett added an honorable mention all-state showing in the event for Park Hill South, placing 14th.
Garrett also had a sixth-place finish in the 100 breaststroke, posting consistent efforts of 1:06.31 in preliminaries and 1:06.32 in the finals. Aken was 14th in the same event for an honorable mention showing in her final meet.
Clark rounded out Park Hill South’s individual all-state efforts with eighth place in the 100 backstroke. She swam 58.02 in the finals after posting the No. 3 qualifying time in preliminaries of 56.87.
Clark’s school-record in the 50 freestyle came leading off the 200 freestyle relay in preliminaries.
Taylor Young, a sophomore, posted her best showing in two appearances at state for Park Hill South in 1-meter diving. She was sixth out of preliminaries and semifinals before finishing 10th with a 355.05 total.
Only two freshmen finished in the top 16, and Young was the lone sophomore.
Aken, Garrett and Emilee Abbott were the only seniors to swim at state for Park Hill South, having helped the Panthers to the past three top-three finishes. In addition to the all-state and honorable mention all-state finishers, freshman Peyton Wiewel and sophomore Alexis Pitts swam in individual preliminaries but did not reach the finals for a Panthers team still loaded with quality returners.
All of Park Hill’s swimmers factoring in four all-state showings were underclassmen.
Nani Welsh, a junior, added to her accomplished career with two individual all-state finishes, setting personal records in both the 100 and 200 freestyle in preliminaries. She ended up seventh in the 100 after going 52.05 in preliminaries and then 52.54 in the finals.
In the 200 freestyle, Welsh missed the school record by .01 of a second in preliminaries (1:54.19) and then placed eighth in the final 1:55.03, two spots behind Riekhof.
Welsh also swam on both of Park Hill’s honorable mention all-state relays. The 400 freestyle team of Welsh, junior Sophia Lane and sophomores Abigail Culp and Brooklyn Pierce was 13th, while the 200 freestyle quartet of Welsh, Lane, Pierce and junior Ariana Wharton-Walker was 14th in the consolation finals.
In three seasons, Welsh has collected 11 state medals total.
Platte County didn’t add to its state medalist list despite record-setting performances in preliminaries. Competing in the 100 breaststroke at state for a third time, Valentine set a school record in 1:09.33 to better the mark she set in last year’s preliminaries (1:09.57), while Havemeier — also a repeat qualifier — was just .01 of a second off of Valentine’s 2016 mark.
Valentine (19th) and Havemeier (22nd) just missed the consolation final.
Platte County’s 200 medley relay team of Valentine, Havemeier, senior Hailee Baer and junior Bailey Newell just missed a season best in preliminaries. The Pirates were 34th in 1:58.66 but finished 10 spots ahead of their seeding for the event.
The 200 medley made state for the third consecutive season.
Platte County’s senior class rewrote the record book the past four years along with winning the 2015 Suburban Conference Blue Division title. Last season, Valentine posted the 14th best preliminary time in the 100 breaststroke to become the first Platte County swimmer to reach the consolation final of an event since Stephanie Jacobsen in 2002.
Valentine placed 16th in 2016 to become the second honorable mention all-state swimmer in program history.