Park Hill South senior Tori Beeler made her final high school meet a memorable one Saturday at the 41st Missouri Girls Swimming and Diving championships at the Rec-Plex.
Beeler won two individual championships, giving her five individual titles during her high school career. And in one of them she set a state record.
“It was an extremely fun four years,” said Beeler, who won 14 (out of a maximum 16) state medals. “My teammates are some of my best friends.”
And those teammates let out a huge roar when Beeler touched at the end of the 200-yard individual medley, winning with a state record time of 2 minutes, 0.24 seconds.
That broke the record of 2:00.74, which was set in 2007 by Liz Smith of Parkway South. Smith later became a four-time All-American at Stanford.
“Breaking the record means everything to me,” said Beeler, who also won the 200 IM as a sophomore and junior. “Yesterday I just wanted to see how far I could get down and I came within four-tenths of a second. After that, I said that we can so do this.”
And did it she did on the strength of a fantastic freestyle leg.
“I would have loved to have broken two minutes but I am not in the least disappointed,” she said. “My goal today was to break a state record.”
At the time she became the only individual swimmer from outside the St. Louis area to have a state record (two Blue Springs relay teams had records set in 2006 although one of those was broken Saturday). That distinction lasted about an hour as Brittany Wen of Hickman set a meet record in the 500-yard freestyle.
“I didn’t know that,” Beeler said with a smile when she learned that she broke the St. Louis monopoly on records.
“St. Louis has everything. Maybe this will put Kansas City on the map.”
Beeler, who will be attending the University of Nebraska, certainly helped put Park Hill South on the map.
“Tori is an outstanding athlete and a really good teammate,” said Panther coach Tim Busenhart, who was named the Missouri Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association (MISCA ) coach of the year for the third year in a row. “She got faster every year and I think she will have an awesome career in college. She just keeps getting better and better.”
Beeler’s other title came in the closest race of the meet. She won the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 51.63. Kelly Tackett of Rock Bridge was second at 51.64.
Another local highlight of the meet was a pair of top-10 finishes in diving by Blue Springs South. Sophomore Bailey Carter was second and teammate and classmate Delaney Jackson was 10th.
“I thought Bailey has a legitimate shot at the top eight,” Blue Springs South coach Errich Oberlander said. “But she was so steady today. She was one-two all day. The Marquette girl nailed her ninth and 10th dives.”
Marquette’s Ashley Yarbrough won with 414.3 points. Carter was second with 390.80 points.
“All I really wanted to do was get a medal after finishing 11th last year,” Carter said. “I didn’t expect to do this well. I thought I was pretty consistent. The difference was the degree of difficulty was higher for the Marquette diver.”
For the third year in a row, Park Hill South came home with a team trophy. And for the third year in a row it was for third place.
The Panthers had a chance for second going into the final event, but Lafayette won the 400-yard freestyle relay and finished second behind champion Rock Bridge.
“I knew it was going to be tough going into that last event because Lafayette has some really good freestylers,” Busenhart said. “But I was very happy with the girls. The scores were closer than they have been the last couple of years.”
Rock Bridge won with 260 points. Lafayette was second with 236 and Park Hill South was third with 222. Parkway West was a distant fourth with 177 points.
Parkway West senior Gabriela Vieira, who was swimming in high school for the first time, was named the swimmer of the meet. She won two individual events and set a state record in the 100-yard butterfly.