by Michael Smith
The Grain Valley girls swimming and diving team is having a breakthrough season.
For the first time in program history, the Eagles have qualified for 11 out of 12 events for the Missouri State High School Girls Swimming and Diving Championships.
They will send 13 competitors to the St. Peters Rec-Plex to compete in the Class 1 state competition, which will begin Friday.
“It’s really exciting for these girls. I have freshmen on the team but they are experienced,” Grain Valley head coach Julie Reilly said. “I think my 400 free relay is all freshman girls and we are sitting in the top 12.
“I definitely think we will have some girls finish in the top 16. I don’t know where, but I think we will have a couple. This is a very fast season of girls all around. I am really proud of these girls.”
Senior Madison Rogers, who is seeded No. 2, will compete in the 1-meter diving event after taking first at the Class 4 District 1 diving event with a score of 408.40. She also was the Suburban White Conference champion.
Before state, she has especially been putting in work on her forward 2 ½ dive.
“I set my personal best,” Rogers said. “I feel pretty confident in getting top eight. I have really been working on the same dives and have been working on perfecting them so they can be as good as they possibly be at state.”
Junior Jayme Whitley will be one of the Eagles competing in an individual event as she will compete in the 100 free. She had a qualifying time of 58.28 seconds during the season.
“It definitely not my favorite event, but it’s the one I am best at,” Whitley said of the 100 free. “I just suck it up to do it.”
Freshman Elizabeth Martin made a huge impact during the season, qualifying for the 500 free with a time of 5:40.19 and the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:22.15.
“I have been swimming for seven years and making it to state has always been a goal for me,” Martin said. “I am excited to go there not only to compete in an individual event, but to support my teammates.
“For the IM, I like to break down each section of the event and try to perfect each one before putting it all together. My breaststroke is not as good as my butterfly, but I try to maximize my effort in each stroke to get a personal best.”
Other Eagles to qualify in individual events were Katelyn Epple (200 free), Kalli Beard (50 free and 100 butterfly) and Emily Holzworth (100 backstroke). The Eagles will also have relay teams in all three events.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for all of us,” said Seena Tyler, who will compete in either the 200 or 400 free relay. “We have put the work in to improve.
“We have dropped lots of time in all the relays. We are really excited to compete in the biggest meet of the year.”
From left, Jayme Whitley, Elizabeth Martin, Madison Rogers and Seena Tyler will be among the 13 girls competing in the Class 1 Missouri State High School Girls Swimming and Diving Championships Friday at the St. Peters Rec-Plex. Photo credit: Michael Smith