Platte County finds a way to push large group on to state swimming

Coming off 2nd-place finish at conference, Pirates learn 2 relays, 4 individual events qualify for this weekend’s 1-day meet in St. Peters.
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Despite not having any automatic qualifiers, Platte County will be well represented at this weekend’s modified Class 1 Missouri Swimming & Diving Championships in St. Peters. The Pirates will be sending seven swimmers to the state meet to compete in four individual events and two relays on Saturday, Nov. 14 at the Rec-Plex.

Platte County seniors Jacob Flynn, Ryan Dye and Luke Harms, juniors Dylan Bietz and Christian Yocklin and sophomores Collin Burton and Gage Jonkman are on the list headed to state for the Pirates, coming off another runner-up finish at the Suburban Conference Blue Division championship.

“Where these guys are this year, compared to last year, is amazingly good,” Platte County coach Bret Anderson said. “They have put forth their best effort.”

Instead of two-day meets for both Class 1 and Class 2 teams, the Missouri State High School Activities Association altered the configuration and qualifying this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The one-day event for the Pirates will start at 3:30 p.m. with preliminaries nixed.

Instead of the usual 32 qualifiers in each event, only 24 were taken this year, although some of the Platte County qualifiers were seeded lower than 24 according to Direct Athletic rankings.

There will be three heats of eight seeded by qualifying times instead of prelims. The top eight times will be in the last heat, although it will be possible for a time in the second or even third heat to earn all-state honors.

Bietz, Dye and Burton were all qualifiers for Platte County last year, and Dye was on a relay that made the consolation finals. The Pirates took seven individual events and all three relays to the state meet in 2019 behind a veteran-laded team that featured Baxter Stone, Joe Ragone, Rhett Spell and Brice Bils.

The graduated seniors made up the 200-yard freestyle relay team that took seventh place at the state finals, the best relay finish in program history.

This year, Platte County won’t have that relay at state, but will have the 200 medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay — a team that returns three of the four from last year’s team that was 23rd at state.

Burton, Bietz and Dye were joined by Bills on that team last year.

This year’s lineup features the same three and the addition of Burton. The team had a season-best time of 3 minutes, 37.67 seconds at the Gladstone Last Chance meet on Nov. 3 — just days after the conference meet at the same location. That has the Pirates seeded 22nd in the state.

The medley relay at the conference meet featured Dye, Yocklin, Burton and Bietz, a team that took third place with a season-best time of 1:46.04. That has the Pirates seeded 17th, just outside of honorable mention all-state status of top 16.

Bietz will compete in the 50 and 100 freestyle. His time in the 50 (22.92) is seeded 37th in the state and his 100 time of 51.88 is 49th, according to Direct Athletics.

Burton posted his best time in the 100 butterfly at the last chance meet, swimming 57.30 — the 41st best time in the state and that was enough to get him to St. Peters. He will also be in the 100 freestyle, where his best time is 52.26 — 54th best.

Oftentimes swimmers qualify in multiple events but have to pick which four events — two relays and two individual events — to enter at state. That will open the door for those with state consideration times to earn a spot at the state meet.

Dye competed in two individual events last year, the 100 breaststroke and 100 butterfly, but didn’t make the cut in either this year. His closest call came in the 100 backstroke, where he had the 39th best time and got pushed down a few spots after many teams took part in last chance qualifiers. He was 24th in the backstroke and 32nd in the butterfly last year at state.

Suburban Conference Blue Division Championships

Platte County’s aim to take conference supremacy came up short late last month. The Pirates scored 456 points, but Kearney topped them 509 points to win its sixth straight Blue Division title. 

“We obviously wanted to win conference, but we gave everything we had and made the score a lot closer than expected,” Platte County coach Bret Anderson said. “We had time drops across the board.  We also had fun. We enjoyed competing and doing our best.”

Platte County didn’t win any races but showed off depth with multiple top-three showings to rack up points.

The 200-yard medley relay of Dye, Yocklin, Burton and Bietz took third with a time of 1:46.04. The 200-yard freestyle relay of Jonkman, Yocklin, Miles Bray and Flynn came in third third, as well, and the 400-yard freestyle relay quartet of Burton, Dye, Jacob Flynn and Bietz came in second.

Platte County had three swimmers finish in order in the 200 freestyle with Flynn taking third, followed by Luke Harms and Gage Jonkman. Yocklin was third in the 200 individual medley and fourth in the 100 breaststroke. Bietz took third in the 50 freestyle and Dye was third in the 100 backstroke.

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