High School Sports

Kearney has its first-ever state swimming champion in senior Madison Strathman

Sharing is an admirable trait, and Kearney senior Madison Strathman did not mind at all sharing a first-place medal at the 40th Missouri Girls Swimming and Diving Championships, which concluded Saturday at the Rec-Plex in St. Peters, Mo.

Strathman and Glendale’s Madeline Nelson, who is also a senior, touched the pad at the end of the 100-yard breaststroke at exactly the same time, finishing in 1 minite, 5.03 seconds.

“What a way to go out,” said Strathman, who stood on the No. 1 podium along with Nelson.

It Strathman’s final race as a Bulldog, the last and most exciting individual race at the meet, and in it Strathman became the first girl in school history to win a state championship.

“This moment is what I worked for four years,” said Strathman, who will swim next year at the University of Arkansas.

“There is no better feeling than hearing the crowd and looking at the scoreboard at the end of that race and seeing a number one next to my name. The reaction of the crowd showed that they enjoyed it. And I certainly did.”

Strathman finished second to Corinne Rinne of Blue Springs in the breaststroke at state last season.

“Last year was disappointing.” Strathman said. “But I think it turned out to be good for me and made me stronger. It made winning it this season even more special.”

Bulldogs coach Daniel Roberts was sweating it out as he watched Strathman come from behind.

“Boy, did she fly those final 25 yards,” Roberts said. “I feel so good for her. There is no more deserving champion than Madison. She is an amazing teammate with no ego. I am so honored to have been her coach and been here for the school’s first state champion, boy or girl."

Strathman also had an impressive showing the 200-yard IM, in which she finished third.

Park Hill South junior Tori Beeler defended her state title in that event, and picked up another state championship as well.

“I was really, really nervous before that race, but a lot of people came up to me and said that I was OK and I calmed down right before the race,” Beeler said.

"I knew I had to put all my energy in the first part of the race, and I got just enough of a lead to be able to hold on at the end. I want to swim in college, and I think that winning the IM is important because it shows that you can do just about any stroke."

The 100-yard backstroke is her best event, and she won that with a time of 56.60. She had finished second in the event last year in a race won by Haley Hynes of Lee’s Summit North.

“I really, really wanted to win that one,” Beeler said. “I had made a deal with my mom (Audrea) at this exact time last year and she said that I could have a tattoo if I won two events or set a new record.”

Well, Audrea, it is time to pay off. Beeler was named co-swimmer of the meet along with Macie Beairsto of Glendale.

It was a big day for the entire Panther team, as Park Hill South won a team trophy for the second straight year, finishing third.

Park Hill South had top five finishes in all three relays and set new school records in each of them. (Beeler also set a new school record in the 200-yard IM.)

As expected, Columbia Rock Bridge’s depth led to a team championship. The Bruins had 295 points. Glendale was second with 234.5 points, while Park Hill South had 207.

“I was proud of the whole team,” Park Hill South coach Busenhart said. “Different girls stepped up all year, and this accomplishment was a true team effort.”