Park Hill South senior Paige Reikhof closed out her swimming career with four more all-state medals at the first Class 2 Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships on Saturday, Feb. 17 at the St. Peters Rec-Plex in St. Peters, Mo.
Riekhof finished with two runners-up medals in her individual events the 200 freestyle (1 minute, 50.75 seconds — a new school record) and the 100 yard butterfly (56.85) and swam on the Panther third-place 200 medley relay team with freshmen Christine Hwang and Emma Clark and junior Georgia Clark (1:49.41), and fifth-place 200 freestyle relay team with Hwang, Georgia Clark and Sophie Jaeger (1:40.34).
“It means a lot to me, just because of how hard I have worked over the past two years,” Riekhof said. “I’m just glad I could represent Park Hill South and Coach (Tim Busenhart) so well after everything he has done for me.”
Overall the Panthers finished seventh in the new two-class swimming state championships. Park Hill South earned 141 team points, nearly 150 off the pace of team-champion Columbia Rock Bridge (289).
“We didn’t have that high of expectations going in honestly,” Riekhof said. “For a lot of the girls conference was their big race. They were just happy to get a state time and make it to state. It turns out we did a lot better than we thought. Tons of girls dropped time at state and everyone was really happy with the way they swam.”
Georgia Clark, also grabbed two individual all-state performances, finishing third in the 200 individual medley (2:07.76) and second in the 100 backstroke (56.93). Clark’s younger sister, Emma, grabbed honorable-mention all-state honors in the same events with two 15th place finishes (2:15.35 and 1:00.58, respectively).
Junior Taylor Young (15th in diving) and the 400 freestyle relay team (Emma Clark, Nadya McCullough, Jaeger and Hwang) rounded out the team points for the Panthers.
Park Hill finished in a tie for 15th place with 44 team points. Senior Nani Welsh claimed the biggest bulk of the points for the Trojans. She finished fourth in the 100 freestyle (52.73) and fifth in the 50 (24.13) as well as swimming on the 200 medley (12th 1:54.40) and 400 yard freestyle (15th, 3:48.46) relay teams.
“Most of the time swimming is thought of as an individual sport, but I really love to see the success in relays because of the emphasis on a team or group,” Trojans coach Karl Haley said. “Back when it was decided that swimming would split into a two-class system, I thought that we might see some watering down of the competition. I was definitely wrong in regards to Class 2. It was a loaded field and we showed that we could compete with the best teams in the state of Missouri.”
Junior Abigail Culp was the only other point-scorer for the Trojans with her 16th-place showing in the 500 freestyle (5:24.59).
“Abigail Culp achieved life-time bests in both the 200 free and 500 freestyle,” Haley said. “It was very rewarding to have Abigail earn All-State Honorable Mention in the 500. She puts an incredible amount of pressure on herself every time she competes. Sometimes that pressure has negative side effects. So, It was nice for her to start to see the reward for the work that she put in.”