Last season’s record crop of seniors led Park Hill South to unprecedented heights. The Panthers have won three straight third-place trophies at the Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships and with four key qualifiers back plus two dozen underclassmen with experience, the goals don’t change.
“We lost of lot of varsity swimmers and we lost six state girls, so we’ve got some ground to make up there,” Park Hill South coach Tim Busenhart said. “But I still have four solid state girls on the team, which should still score a lot of out points.”
Park Hill South senior Allison Garrett, junior Paige Reikhof and sophomore Georgia Clark bring the bulk of experience.
Last season, the Panthers qualified 43 events for state, including all three relays and 1-meter divers Dani Proffit and Taylor Young. Garrett and Clark posted state cuts in all eight individual events while Reikhof did so in seven.
Limited to four events at state, Garrett, Clark and Reikhof were a part of key relays.
The 200 medley team of Clark, Garrett and departed seniors Anna Riekhof and Maggie Hickey was fifth, and the 200 freestyle team of Paige Riekhof and departed seniors Hickey, Beeler and Maryn Burns was the state runner-up after entering the final with the top seed.
In the final relay, the 400 freestyle, Beeler, Paige Riekhof, Garrett and Hickey were fourth.
In their careers, Beeler (14), Hickey (nine), Anna Reikhof (eight) and Burns (two) were responsible for a lot of all-state finishes and state team points for four seasons. Beeler won five individual state championships the past three years while leading Park Hill South to the only podium team finishes in program history
“We have a lot of fresh faces, a big freshmen class it’s like half our team but I think they’ll do good and I think they’re up for the challenge,” Garrett said. “We hope to win conference again and I think it’ll be our 16th (in a row) so we have to do that and be undefeated in our dual meets again.”
Garrett was all-state in the 200 individual medley (eighth) and 100 breaststroke (seventh), bringing her career total to nine. Paige Riekhof collected a pair of individual all-state showings with a sixth in the 100 butterfly and seventh in the 200 freestyle.
Kirsten Aken — another senior for the Panthers — posted an eighth-place finish in the 100 breaststroke, while Clark was honorable mention all-state in the 200 IM during her state debut.
The core of state returners is much smaller but boasts plenty of credentials for a now-established state power. Park Hill South will also have just six seniors this season, only Garrett and Aken with state experience.