The best swim of Caden DeLay’s career improved his own record and gave him a claim to history.
Platte County’s standout junior became the first in program history to qualify for a final at the Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships with a record effort in the 100-yard breaststroke preliminaries. He was the final qualifier for the consolation final and went on to place 16th on Saturday, Nov. 5 at Rec-Plex in St. Peters, Mo., becoming the first all-state swimmer ever for the Pirates.
Part of a record-setting group of state qualifiers as a sophomore, DeLay was the only returning swimmer with postseason experience. He put up a state qualifying cut early in the season and broke the oldest standing school record on the books late in the season.
The momentum carried over, and Platte County’s lone state qualifier smashed his previous season-best in preliminaries, finishing in 1 minute, 0.84 seconds to grab the 16th and final qualifying spot for the finals. He went slightly slower in the finals but left state with a medal after moving the school record down about 2 seconds.
DeLay’s previous best time of 1:02.77 prior to state beat Josh Hulett’s mark from 1996 by just 1/100th of a second.
While DeLay was Platte County’s lone qualifier, Park Hill South and Park Hill turned in top-20 team showings with large state groups. The Panthers were 14th with 61 points, up from 28th a year, while Park Hill was 18th with 48 points, coming off back-to-back top-four showings at state.
Both teams posted critical all-state relay performances to key the effort.
Park Hill South’s 200 freestyle relay team qualified fifth out of prelims and swam its two best times of the year. The Panthers group of senior Daniel Miller, junior Cody Beeler and sophomores Jackson Garrett and Isaac Lee ended up seventh in finals.
The same swimmers made up the 200 medley relay team that placed 14th, also posting the best two times of the season.
Miller finished his career with his first two individual all-state efforts, as well.
A part of a medal-winning relay as a junior, Miller made the final of the 100 breaststroke with the eighth and final qualifying spot and finished eighth. He also came in 13th in the consolation final of the 50 freestyle.
Garrett’s second state swim meet produced another three all-state performances.
In addition to the two relays, Garrett tied for the third-fastest times in preliminaries for the 100 backstroke and ended up fourth. He placed fourth in the final and now owns six all-state finishes in two seasons.
Park Hill seniors Danny Jones and Daniel Spielhagen also collected multiple medals each in their final meet.
The Trojans’ 200 freestyle relay of Jones, Spielhagen, senior Sean Cogley and of freshman Jordan Timmerman qualified ninth with the top time the teams in the consolation final. They ended up 10th, while the 400 freestyle relay team made up of the same members closed the meet with an 11th-place showing.
Spielhagen posted a season-best time in the finals of the 200 freestyle and finished eighth. He was the top qualifier in the consolation final of the 500 freestyle before bettering his time from the preliminaries to break his own school record in the final, finishing ninth for his fourth medal of the meet.
Park Hill South senior Connor Morris was 16th in the 500 freestyle, earning honorable mention all-state honors in the event for a second straight year.
Prior to this season, Spielhagen had at least one all-state showing on a relay for Park Hill, but Missouri State High School Activities Association records of relay members in 2014 is incomplete.
Jones finished his career with 11 all-state performances, three this year. He came in 15th in the 100 butterfly for his third straight top-16 showing in the event.
In his career, Jones was a part of eight medal-winning relays — four each in the 200 and 400 freestyle.