A healthy contingent of Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships qualifiers included mostly underclassmen last year.
In fact, Park Hill South’s lone senior to make a state cut was Lewis Lundy. The Panthers placed three individuals and two relays in the top 16 last year and scored enough points to finish 28th in the final team standings, but coach Steven De La Piedra envisions a climb into the top 10 with his returning contingent.
Jackson Garrett, a sophomore, grabbed the only all-state finish last year for Park Hill South, placing seventh in the 100 backstroke, while senior teammate Ben Milburn placed 15th. Connor Morris, another senior, was 15th in the 500 freestyle for another consolation medal.
The Panthers’ 200 medley relay team (Garrett, seniors Daniel Miller and Tyler Dunn, and sophomore Isaac Lee) and 400 freestyle relay (Dunn, Garrett, Milburn and senior Stephen Heit) both came in 15th.
In addition to the finals and consolation finals qualifiers, Heit, Miller, Dunn and junior Cody Beeler also made individual state cuts. The core group helped Park Hill South to a minor upset in the Suburban Conference Red Division Championships to edge Park Hill for the title, the Panthers’ first since 2012.
With Park Hill moving up a bracket in the Suburban Conference this year, Park Hill South’s returning contingent look like favorites to make a run at another league title.