ST. PETERS, Mo. — Park Hill South swimmer Tori Beeler showed a lot of promise as a freshman at last year’s Missouri girls state swimming championships.
By BILL HESTER
Special to The Star
But Beeler fell just short of coming home with an individual medal in 2013. The top eight finishers win medals, and Beeler finished ninth in the 200-yard IM and 10th in the 100-yard backstroke.
That disappointment was turned to elation Saturday at the 2014 version of the state meet, held at the City of St. Peters Rec-Plex. Beeler was dominant from start to finish and in the process helped the Panthers to their first state trophy.
“It’s just an awesome feeling,” Beeler said. “I was really just ready to go all weekend.”
The meet started with a bang for the Panthers as Beeler teamed with Anna Riekhof, Helen Yeater and Olivia McLain to win the 200-yard medley relay. That gave the Panthers a quick 40 points.
“That felt especially good because last year we were seeded first in the medley relay and finished second,” Beeler said. “This year we were seeded second and finished first.”
That was just the start of a memorable Saturday for Beeler as she followed with a championship in the 200-yard IM. She won the event as a freshman but did so in the consolation heat. This year she not only won the championship heat but beat the defending champion, Haley Hynes of Lee’s Summit North, in the process.
“I really didn’t think I could do it,” said Beeler, who had the top seed after Friday’s prelims. “I was aiming for the top three. A lot of people don’t like the IM, but I really like it. Haley is so good in the back so I knew I needed to get a cushion after the first two legs.”
Beeler added a second-place finish in the backstroke to Hynes and got her fourth medal (the most any girl can get) as the Panthers finished fifth in the meet-concluding 400-yard freestyle relay.
Park Hill South finished the meet with 183 points, which was good for third place and the school’s first girls swimming trophy. Springfield Glendale edged Marquette for the team championship.
Beeler was one of three local individual champions and the two others were repeat champions.
Hynes had the most dominant finish of the day, winning the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 54.37. That was more than 2 seconds faster than Beeler, who finished second, and just 0.28 seconds off the state record of 54.09, set by Taylor Wohrley of Timberland in 2009.
“It’s great to repeat,” Hynes said. “I was able to drop my time, but I really do want that state record. I have a couple more years.”
For Hynes and Beeler, there will be more chances at state championships. But this was it for Blue Springs’ Corinne Rinne, and she responded with another title in the 100-yard breaststroke.
“I think it was harder to repeat than to win it the first time,” Rinne said.
The state meet was a successful one for several other local swimmers. Kearney junior Madison Strathman was second to Rinne in the 100-yard breaststroke and was fifth in the 200-yard IM.
St. Teresa sophomore Andie Round was fourth in the 50-yard freestyle and fifth in the 100-yard freestyle.
Blue Springs junior Ashley Sturman was third in the 500-yard freestyle and sixth in the 100-yard butterfly.