St. Peter’s University coaches found a recruiting profile for Rachel Valentine online.
When first contacted, the Platte County senior probably didn’t know much about the Jesuit college in Jersey City, N.J. She slowly came around and eventually decided to sign with the Division I Peacocks, becoming the first swimmer in program history to continue to the next level.
“They just kind of contacted me,” Valentine said after a signing ceremony held Thursday, April 13 inside the Wilson Center for Performing Arts at Platte County High School. “At first, I was like, ‘Maybe not.’ But then they contacted me again, and I was more open to the idea.”
One of seven student-athletes honored, Valentine’s signing capped a record-breaking career. She leaves with the 100-yard breaststroke school record (1 minute, 9.33 seconds) and part of the 200 medley relay record (1:57.08).
Valentine qualified for the Missouri State Swimming and Diving championships in both the 200 medley and 100 breaststroke each of the past three seasons. In 2016, she posted the 14th best preliminary time in the 100 breaststroke to become the first Platte County swimmer to reach the consolation final of a state event since Stephanie Jacobsen in 2002.
Placing 16th, Valentine became the second honorable mention all-state swimmer in program history. She posted the school record in the 100 breaststroke in this year’s state preliminaries but finished 19th, just missing another spot in the consolation final.
Valentine also helped Platte County win its first Suburban Conference Blue Division title in program history back in 2015 and grew into the first collegiate swimmer in program history.
“I can definitely say I’m very excited,” said Valentine, who also played No. 1 singles for Platte County the past two seasons before opting to pursue swimming in college. “It’s cool to be the first, and I hope more girls on the swim team work to continue their career in college in the future.”
Although not at the ceremony, Rebekah Geddes was the second student-athlete to announce a Division I destination. Still just a junior, she plans to run cross country and track at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
Geddes plans to graduate early this spring.
Long established as the best long-distance runner in school history, Geddes owns the school record in the 1,600 and 3,200 along with being a part of the school-record 4x800 team. She has earned all-state honors in the Class 4 Missouri State Track and Field Championships four times entering this season — sixth in the 3,200 as a freshman, sixth in the 4x800 as a sophomore, fifth in the 3,200 as a sophomore and third in the 1,600 as a sophomore.
Geddes also owns the school cross country record and earned Class 4 all-state honors each of the past three seasons. She was 16th as a freshman and sixth both as a sophomore and junior.
Of the seven students honored Wednesday, two will play basketball in college. The other honorees were for softball, soccer and football.
Mason Hays picked Cloud County (Kan.) Community College for soccer, hoping to potentially earn a spot at a bigger school to finish his career. A three-year starter, Hays first found success as a defender, earning All-Blue Division co-defensive player of the year honors as a junior.
This past season, Hays totaled eight goals and 16 assists as a midfielder for the Pirates, serving a key role in junior forward Chandler Peterson’s record-setting season for goals scored. Hays’ versatility could be an asset at the Concordia, Kan. school next season, although he believes defense could still be his best opportunity.
“Cloud County’s definitely a starting point for me,” said Hays, who helped Platte County to playoff appearances in 2014 and 2016. “Being able to move across the field and play different positions, I like to think I’ll get more chances. Hopefully, at Cloud, I can find a place to maybe start or get into the team.”
Anna Townsend chose Park University in Parkville, Mo. to continue her softball career. After winning the catcher job as a junior, she developed into a standout on defense and offense, earning All-Class 3 Region 4 honors as a senior.
In the fall, Townsend ranked second for Platte County with a .463 batting average, hitting a home run and a team-high 13 doubles. She also led the Pirates with 32 RBIs and struck out just seven times in 86 plate appearances.
DeAndre Rollins plans to participate in track and field in addition to playing basketball at Webster University in Webster Groves, Mo. — a suburb of St. Louis. He started all 27 games this past season for the Pirates at point guard, averaging 4.3 points per game to go with a team-high 68 assists.
Liz Peterson will play basketball at Sterling College in Sterling, Kan. after helping Platte County to back-to-back seasons with an above .500 record.
Goettling became the fifth football player to sign (Central Methodist in Fayette, Mo.) shortly after a winter ceremony honoring the other four.
A two-year contributor, Goettling started all season as a senior at cornerback. He ended up with 29 tackles, one forced fumble and three passes defensed, while returning his lone interception for a memorable 70-yard touchdown in an early blowout win of Oak Park.
Goettling made seven tackles in four games as a junior.
Platte County’s senior class included seven three-year starters who helped the Pirates accrue a 25-10 record from 2014-2016. Each of the final two seasons ended with losses to Kearney in the Class 4 District 8 title game with the Bulldogs going onto the state title game both times.