The Park Hill South girls swimming team has never come home from the state meet with a trophy.
The Panthers put themselves in a position to make school history with an impressive performance Friday at the preliminary round of the Missouri state meet at the St. Peters Rec-Plex.
Park Hill South, which finished a best-ever eighth at last year’s state meet (the top four get trophies), qualified all three relay teams to Saturday’s championship swims with top eight performances. Sophomore Tori Beeler and freshman Allison Garrett will swim in two individual championship heats and sophomore Anna Riekhof also qualified for a championship heat.
“I am just ecstatic about how well things went today,” Park Hill South coach Tim Busenhart said. “The goals were to get the three relay teams in the top eight and we hoped to get five individuals in the top eight.”
The goals were met and then some as the Panthers set two new school records in the relays. The team of Beeler, Riekhof, junior Helen Yeater and senior Olivia McLain set a new mark in the 200-yard medley relay (1:49.57) while McLain, sophomore Maggie Hickey, Beeler and Garrett broke the previous Panther record in the 400-yard freestyle relay (3:37.12).
Beeler had a dominating day individually as she had the top time in the 200-yard individual medley and was second to defending state champion Haley Hynes of Lee’s Summit North in the 100-yard backstroke.
“Tori had a couple of ninth-place finishes last year and she was completely focused today,” Busenhart said. “I think it was the meet of a lifetime for Tori, either high school or club.”
Garrett was also a standout Friday, qualifying in the championship heat in the maximum four events. She finished eighth (the top eight times swim Saturday in the championship heat, the next eight best times swim in the consolation heat) in both the 100-yard freestyle and 100-yard breaststroke. Riekhof will give the Panthers two competitors in the breaststroke as she had the sixth best time Friday.
“We had a very, very good day today and put ourselves in a position to have success tomorrow,” Busenhart said.
Two area defending champions will go into Saturday’s finals as the top seed with Hynes in the backstroke and Blue Springs’ Corinne Rinne in the 100-yard breaststroke.
Hynes also finished second in the 200-yard IM and was part of the 200-yard medley relay team which finished third.
Blue Springs’ Ashley Sturman will also swim in three championship finals Saturday. The junior was second in the 500-yard freestyle and fifth in the 100-yard butterfly. She also swam a leg in the 200-yard medley relay team which finished fourth.
Kearney’s Madison Strathman and St. Teresa’s Andie Round each qualified in two individual championship heats. Strathman, a junior, was third in the 100-yard breaststroke and fourth in the 200-yard IM. Round, s a sophomore, was second in the 50-yard freestyle and fourth in the 100-yard freestyle.
The finals for the swimming will begin at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Rec-Plex. The diving finals begin at 9 a.m.