Park Hill South senior Paige Riekhof shed a tear as she stepped off the podium for the last time as a high school swimmer on Saturday at the Missouri Class 2 Swimming Championships at the St. Peters Rec-Plex in St. Peters, Mo.
But with the tear came a huge smile as Riekhof capped off a stellar high-school career with a pair of second-place finishes in individual events.
Riekhof also helped Park Hill South relay teams to third- and fifth-place finishes.
The four medals on Saturday put Riekhof’s career tally at 16 for Park Hill South. Nobody can earn more as high-school swimmers are limited to two individual and two relay events.
“I’m just so happy with the way it finished,” Riekhof said. “I worked so hard and I am glad I can see the awards.”
Sixteen of them.
Riekhof was never able to win the elusive first-place medal but came close Saturday.
She was second in the 200-yard freestyle at 1 minute, 50. 75 seconds. Franceska Petrosino of Lafayette won with a time of 1:50.37.
“My big goal this weekend was to make 1:50,” Riekhof said. “If I did that and finished eighth I would have been happy.”
And the big hug she gave Petrosino at the end of the race was real.
“Franceska is my best friend, and she is going to be one of my roommates next year at the University of Kansas,” Riekhof said. “Of course, I wanted to beat her and be a state champion. But I wouldn’t have rather been beaten by anybody else.”
Riekhof also had a second-place finish in the 100 butterfly. Defending champion Karisa Franz of Cor Jesu won the event.
Riekhof, who medaled in both the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly all four years, teamed with Georgia Clark, Emma Clark and Christine Hwang in finishing third in the 200 medley relay. Georgia Clark, Sophie Jaeger, Hwang and Riekhof finished fitfh in the 200 yard freestyle relay, which turned out to be Riekhof’s final high school event.
Clark also had an outstanding meet for Park Hill South, finishing second in the 100 backstroke and third in the 200 IM.
Park Hill’s Nani Welsh, Staley’s Rachel Janiak and Liberty’s Madeline Pittman each closed out their high school careers with a pair of medals on Saturday.
Welsh finished fourth in both the 50-yard freestyle and 100 freestyle. Janiak was fifth in the 500 freestyle and seventh in the 200 medley relay with Delaney McPherson, Chase Kirby, and Cassidy Boord. Pittman was eighth in the 200 freestyle and swam a leg in the 200 freestyle relay team, which finished fourth.
Three other area swimmers had top-five finishes: Blue Springs’ Shaedyn Read was fourth in the 500-yard freestyle. Lee’s Summit West’s Molly Harmon and Blue Springs’ Annemarie Rehbein were fourth and fifth respectively in the 100-yard breaststroke.
Ten of the top-5 divers in Class 2 came from the Kansas City area, topped by a third-place finish by Raytown senior Sydney Jackson. It was the best of three top-10 finishes at state for Jackson.
Park Hill South finished in the top 10 for the sixth straight year as a team. It finished eighth, one point behind seventh-place Kirkwood and two points behind sixth-place Cor Jesu.
Staley and Blue Springs finished tied for 10th, a half point ahead of Liberty.
Freshman leads way for Kearney in Missouri Class 1
Kearney girls swimming coach Nathan Long was well aware of the talent of incoming freshman Andi Kreiling.
He had no clue though about her personality.
“I knew that we were getting a stud freshman,” Long said. “But I didn’t realize that I was getting one of the goofiest girls I have been around.”
Kreiling’s fun loving personality stops though when it comes to her work ethic.
“She is the hardest worker on the team,” Long said. “She is such a tremendous athlete. She goes to volleyball practice after swim practice.”
Kreiling had a memorable and successful first state meet on Friday in Missouri Class 1 state meet at the St. Peters Rec-Plex.
Kreiling qualified in a pair of individual events and in two relays. She made it to the championship heat in all four events, finishing third in the 50-yard freestyle and 100 freestyle. She teamed with seniors Morgan Bonderer and Katelynn Taylor to finish third in the 200 medley relay.
Kreiling, Taylor, Bonderer and junior Lizzie Bitner finished fifth in the 200-yard freestyle relay.
“I was so nervous when I came to the office Wednesday before the meet,” Kreiling said. “And I was still nervous right before the meet. But the nerves were gone as soon as I hit the water.”
The pool was Kreiling’s office and she responded in a big way.
“I was not looking for any particular place,” Kreiling said. “I just wanted to have fun with my teammates and wanted to better my times.”
Kreiling did both as she enjoyed bonding with the older swimmers and she did set personal bests in both of her individual swims.
Kreiling actually had her best time in the 50-yard freestyle in the prelims Thursday night. She had a time of 24.30 in the prelims and 24.33 in the finals.
She had a personal record in the finals of the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 53.49.
“The whole day was great,” Kreiling said. “Making it to the finals in all four events was unbelievable. All the hard work is finally paying off.”
Long was not surprised at Kreiling’s success in her first state experience.
“I knew what she was capable of and thought she could finish in the top three,” Long said. “A lot of girls come to this kind of atmosphere and don’t swim well their first time. But Andi is not your usual swimmer. I think she is a future state champion."
Kreiling led Kearney to a sixth-place finish, the highest for any Kansas City area team in Class 1. It was the best finish as a team for the girls in school history.
Pembroke Hill senior Caroline Salzman capped off her stellar high school career with a pair of medals. She finished just twelve-hundredths of a second behind Kreiling in finishing fourth in the 50-yard freestyle and was eighth in the 100 freestyle.
St. Pius X freshman Ellie Hartwig also returned home with a medal. She finished fifth in the 100-yard backstroke. She was seeded eighth going into the finals but finished with a time of 1:00.44, which was 80-hundredths faster than her time in the prelims.
Carl Junction seniors Kiera Holt, Kinsey Morey, and Madeline Wilson and freshman Emma Lacey earned medals with an eighth-place finish in the 400-yard freestyle relay.
Four area divers finished in the top 11 on Thursday. A pair of Notre Dame de Sion divers led the way. Sophomore Caroline Knopke was third, and senior Sammie Nessleing was sixth.
Winnetonka junior Eden Viles was 10th and Kearney senior Kelli Weidmaier was 11th.
Springfield Glendale won the team title in Class 1 with a score of 195. Parkway Central was a close second with 188 points.