State season; girls’ swim team places at state


Grace Denkoff

Paige Howell, junior, dives off the blocks as her race begins.

Under the water, the sounds of hands gliding hit her ear, and as she comes up for a breath she can hear people yelling. For Ella Pearl, junior, swimming isn’t just an individual sport. According to Pearl, the team aspect is key, and took the girls’ swim and dive team to state this year.

“There are times when one of us doesn’t want to go through the entire practice,” Pearl said. “We just have to remember what we are doing it for, [and] keep our minds in the game until the end of the season. The help that I got over the season was amazing.”

This season, the girls’ team placed second in the Class Two State Championship with 237 points, below Marquette’s 242. Kirkwood had two, two-time champs with Alyssa Dennis and Ella Pearl, as well as Pearl winning the Missouri State High School Activities Association swimmer of the year award. This compares to last year when the team didn’t make it to the top four.

“We knew we had a pretty good chance at state this year,” Pearl said. “Everyone was so excited for one another’s [success]. It was an amazing feeling to see all of that hard work pay off.” 

The girls’ swim team coach, Matt Beasley, also said that the girls’ support of each other over the season was important in getting them to state. The team just clicked together, and that is what made the difference in their outcome of this season according to Beasley.

“As a group you could tell we had common goals as a team,” Beasley said. “You could tell that when [the] girls showed up everyday they were happy and ready to go. [This season] it was just a better overall feel.”

Jessica Briars, freshman, was nervous going into the season, but she said that as she got to know the team practices became better. According to Briars, it was this bond that made the team’s drive stronger as the season progressed.

‘With Marquette winning last year, our goal all season was to beat them,” Briars said of Marquette. “We knew we were just as good as them, and that it would come down to the last couple points.”

Beasley said that the meet, where their potential for the season really clicked, was the Kirkwood Invite where the girls’ won against other schools around St.Louis for the first time in years. However, they never directly said their goal for the season, it was just something that everyone knew they wanted.

“I never outright said we are going to win state this year. I always referred to it as something Kirkwood Swim and Dive has never done in the history of the program,” Beasley said. ” I don’t think we really knew we could do it until about three events to go [at state.]”

Grace Denkoff
Paige Howell, junior, and Alyssa Dennis react to the results.