Park Hill's relays push Trojans to 10th place in Class 2 at state swimming

Park Hill’s top four helped key a top-10 finish in the Class 2 Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships. In the first two-classification meet in state history, the Trojans scored 96 points on the strength of three top-10 relays to finish 10th in the final standings of the two-day competition at Rec-Plex in St. Peters, Mo.

Zack O’Conor (senior), Hunter Dieffenbach (junior), Nick Dieffenbach (junior) and Jordan Timmerman (sophomore) all took home four top-16 medals for Park Hill.

The quartet made up the 400-meter freestyle relay (fifth), 200 freestyle relay (seventh) and 200 medley relay (10th). Each swimmer also recorded an honorable mention all-state showing in individual events — O’Conor (11th, 100 breaststroke), Hunter Dieffenbach (11th, 100 freestyle), Jordan Timmerman (13th, 100 butterfly) and Nick Dieffenbach (15th, 100 freestyle).

Park Hill had nine all-state or honorable mention all-state finishes thanks to a strong preliminary showing of personal-best times and scores. The Trojans were qualified in 15 events but only four came in with a top 16 seed.

The 200 medley started the push, qualifying No. 9 in preliminaries and just missing a spot in the championship final before placing 10th in Saturday’s consolation final. Park Hill then put two in the consolation final for the 100 freestyle with Timmerman staying close to his seed with a 13th-place finish while Hunter Dieffenbach turned in a dramatic season-best.

In the final, Hunter Dieffenbach bested his qualifying time by about a second to come in 11th.

Sam Duesterhaus, a junior, made the most dramatic cut. He shaved nearly 8 seconds off his qualifying time, which ranked 28th out of 32 entering the 500 freestyle preliminaries, to earn the final spot in the consolation final at 4 minutes, 55.8 seconds.

In Saturday’s final, Duesterhaus was slightly faster (4:55.1) to place 16th.

Park Hill entered with two top 10 relays but ended up with three. The medley relay jumped from No. 19 qualifier to 10th, while the two freestyle relays both ended up in the championship finals.

The 200 freestyle relay went 1:29.44 in prelims to post the fifth-fastest time before placing seventh. The 400 posted a season-best 3:18.58 in prelims to grab the final championship spot then improved three places to fifth in the final at 3:16.79 — 4 seconds better than the qualifying mark.

Park Hill sophomore Mark Foster entered the diving competition at No. 27 out of 38 qualifiers. He made the final and ended up all-state in eighth place with a score of 375.10 — just 0.8 of a point out of seventh.

In the final year of one-class state, Park Hill placed 18th after being fourth in 2015 and second in 2014.