The Park Hill South girls swimming team brought home a trophy from the Missouri state swimming meet for the first time last year with a third-place finish.
The Panthers had their ups and downs Friday at the 2015 state meet at the St. Peters Rec-Plex but still seemed poised to give last year's trophy some company.
Park Hill South will be seeded third going into Saturday's championship round. But the Panthers are well behind pre-meet favorite Rock Bridge and Glendale. Although the Panthers do have a comfortable advantage over fourth place Marquette.
"Overall I felt the girls did very well today," Park Hill South coach Tim Busenhart said. "Team wise we were able to drop times in almost all of our events. We got the three relay teams through with second, third and fourth place finishes and we were able to advance three swimmers to the finals in an event which we had never done before."
The Panthers also set six new school records Friday (all three relays, freshman Paige Riekhof in the 200-yard freestyle, junior Tori Beeler in the 100-yard backstroke and senior Helen Yeater in the 100-yard butterfly.
Yeater, who qualified fourth in the 100-yard butterfly, was one of three Panthers who will swim in the finals in that event. Paige Riekhof was fifth and Maggie Hickey sixth in the prelims.
Beeler is looking to defend her individual championship in the 100-yard backstroke and she is the clear-cut favorite after a dominating performance Friday. Beeler won with a time of 56.40 which was almost a full second faster than second place finisher Lillian Vanbijon of Lafayette, who finished in 57.37.
Beeler also had the second fastest time in the 200-IM and swam in two of the three relays, which qualified for the finals. Beeler teamed with Anne Riekhof, Yeater and Hickey to finish second in the 200-yard medley relay. Beeler, Hickey, Paige Riekhof and Allison Garrett were third in the 400-yard free relay. The Panthers also qualified their 200-yard freestyle relay team as Maryn Burns, Hickey, Paige Riekhof and Garrett finished fourth.
The day was not without disappointments for the Panthers, especially in the 100-yard breaststroke. Anna Riekhof, who finished third at the state meet last year in the breaststoke, got the dreaded ninth place finish Friday. She will swim in the consolation heat Saturday along with teammates Kirsten Aken and Yeater.
Kearney's Madison Strathman will enter the 100-yard breaststroke as the top seed. Strathman, who finished second in the event at state last year, had a time of 1:05.24 Friday. The top three times in the breaststroke were separated by just .08 of a second.
Strathman also had a good swim in the 200-yard IM, finishing third.
The only other area qualifiers in championship heats Saturday were a pair of Park Hill relay teams. Rebecca Shaw, Meg Feeley, Nani Welsh and Madison Heydinger finished eighth in the 200-yard free relay and the same four were sixth in the 400-yard freestyle relay.
Audrey Snyder of Lee's Summit just missed qualifying in the championship heat in the 100-yard breaststroke. She finished ninth Friday.
Rock Bridge, the overwhelming favorite coming into the meet, was able to qualify 11 individuals to Saturday's championship heat (as compared to six by Park Hill South). The Bruins also advanced all three relay teams, including the 200-yard freestyle and 200-yard medley relay teams which had the fastest times Friday.
Glendale was able to qualify seven swimmers to Saturday's championship heat. But the Falcons led all schools with five top times on Friday.
Junior Macie Beairsto won the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly while senior Madeline Nelson will go in as the top seed in the 100-yard freestyle as will junior Kaylee Sisson in the 50-yard freestyle. The Falcons also had the fastest time in the 400-yard freestyle relay.
Notre Dame de Sion, which tied with St. Joseph's Academy with the most state qualifiers (19), was able to advance one swimmer to Saturday's championship heat. Senior Meghan Kearney finished seventh in the 200-yard freestyle.
The diving competition is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday with the swimming finals scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. at the Rec-Plex.
Wintry weather is scheduled for the area Friday night and Saturday. Any change of times due to the weather will be posted on the MSHSAA website athttp://www.mshsaa.org/.