After scoring a point in the Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships for just the second time in school history, Platte County adds back a previous qualifier this year looking to continue the ascension.
Last season, Hannah Havemeier, Rachel Valentine and Olivia Forrester all competed at state in the 100-yard breaststroke. Valentine posted the 14th best preliminary time in the event with a school record time to become the first Platte County swimmer to reach the consolation final of an event since Stephanie Jacobsen in 2002 (13th, 50 freestyle).
Valentine ended up 16th but became just the second honorable mention all-state swimmer in program history.
“We have a group of girls that have gone to state the last two years and it’s their fourth year of swimming so I think they’re excited to do the best they can,” Platte County coach Kenna Sampsell said. “I think their leadership is going to be probably the key to the younger kids really stepping up and knowing this is where I can be.”
Indeed, Platte County’s record-setting group boasts impressive credentials.
The Pirates’ 200 medley relay team of Havemeier, Valentine and now-juniors Bailey Newell and Hailee Baer qualified for state. The same relay went the year before but with current senior Lauren Earnest in the lineup. She missed all of last season after offseason shoulder surgery but comes back to bolster the group.
In 2015, Earnest became Platte County’s first state qualifier since a relay in 2003. Prior to that season, Jacobsen had been the only individual to post a state cut in program history.
Earnest (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 100 backstroke), Forrester (100 breaststroke), Havemeier (100 butterfly) and Valentine (100 breaststroke) rewrote the record books that season.
Sampsell hopes the six with postseason experience plus more will have a chance to compete at this season.
Platte County also brought in Marnie Jenkins as an assistant coach this season. She boasts more than a decade of experience as a head coach at St. Joseph Central and brings even more optimism for the Pirates’ growth
“We have a lot of really good freshmen and a bunch of really good sophomores that are coming in so we’ll see, hopefully they’ll do well,” Havemeier said. “It’s going to be pretty bittersweet because it’s our last year together, and we’ve pretty much grown up swimming together so I’m just excited for all of us to finish off the season strong.”