In a meeting with her coach before the season, Park Hill South High School swimmer Tori Beeler established some goals for her sophomore year. She kept them relatively simple.
Her plan was to qualify for Missouri state-championship heats in two individual races, automatically placing her among the top eight swimmers in the state.
The goals went unchanged for the majority of the season — until the night before the state meet.
Beeler swam some of her fastest times of the year in the preliminary races, changing her coach’s tune for the championship heats the following day.
“She was ecstatic, and after the way she swam, I told her let’s go win one,” Panthers coach TIm Busenhart said. “Why not?”
A suddenly confident Beeler followed through.
Beeler won the gold medal in the 200-yard individual medley, the first state title of her high school career.
Her day wasn’t finished, though.
Beeler also placed second behind Lee’s Summit North sophomore Haley Hynes in the 100 backstroke, and she led off the Panthers’ 200 medley relay team, which also placed first at the state meet.
It was a day full of accomplishments for Beeler, who is The Star’s All-Metro Missouri girls swimmer of the year.
“I was totally surprised,” Busenhart said. “When she swam that fast in the (preliminary races), I didn’t think she could go any faster in the finals. It was total amazement to see that happen. She was beyond belief.”
A career-best performance from Beeler led to a historic day for her school, as well.
Park Hill South placed third in the team standings, its best finish in school history.
THE STAR’S ALL-METRO MISSOURI GIRLS SWIM TEAM
200 MEDLEY RELAY
Park Hill South (Tori Beeler, sophomore; Anna Riekhof, sophomore; Helen Yeater, junior; Olivia McLain, senior). The Panthers placed second in the preliminary race, but cut a full second off their time to win the state finals, finishing in 1 minute, 48.51 seconds.
Madison Heydinger, Park Hill, junior. The only Kansas City area swimmer to place in the 200-yard freestyle race at the state meet, Heydinger finished 12th in 1:58.64.
200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY
Tori Beeler, Park Hill South, sophomore. It was a monster day for Beeler at the state meet. She won the 200 IM, placed second in the 100 backstroke and swam the opening leg of the Panthers’ 200-medley relay winning team.
Andie Round, St. Teresa’s, sophomore. The sprinter’s first trip to the state meet was a successful one. Round tied for fourth place in the 50 freestyle in 24.23 seconds and later finished fifth in the 100 freestyle.
Margaret Brandmeyer, Notre Dame de Sion, sophomore. The ninth-place finisher at the state meet, Brandmeyer vaulted up the standings with her performance in the finals competition and finished with 326.85 points.
Olivia McLain, Park Hill South, senior. She took part in four races at state, including the winning 200 medley relay team. Her best individual finish, though, came in the 100 butterfly, where she placed 10th in 59.12 seconds.
Allison Garrett, Park Hill South, freshman. The first year of high school swimming was a special one for Garrett, who placed seventh in the 100 freestyle in 53.70 seconds and eighth in the 100 breaststroke at the state meet.
Ashley Sturman, Blue Springs, junior. The distance swimmer took another step forward this season, placing third at the state meet in the 500 freestyle in 5:02.83 and sixth in the 100 butterfly.
200 FREESTYLE RELAY
Park Hill South (Kirsten Aken, freshman; Anna Riekhof, sophomore; Olivia McLain, senior; Allison Garrett, freshman). The Panthers were the only Kansas City area team to swim in the championship heat. They placed seventh in 1:41.04, which added 24 points to their team’s total.
Haley Hynes, Lee’s Summit North, sophomore. In only two seasons, Hynes has taken home three individual gold medals. She won the 100 backstroke this season (54.37) at state by more than two seconds. She also placed second in the 200 individual medley.
Corinne Rinne, Blue Springs, senior. In a fitting way to finish an accomplished career, Rinne won the 100 breaststroke for the second straight season in 1:05.73 at the state meet. She also finished 10th in the 200 indivudual medley.
400 FREESTYLE RELAY
Park Hill South (Olivia McLain, senior; Maggie Hickey, sophomore; Tori Beeler, sophomore; Allison Garrett, freshman). The team’s emphasis on relay races paid off at the state meet with three championship-heat places. The Panthers finished fifth in the 400 freestyle relay in 3:37.09.