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Lady Zizzer Swim Team Wins the SWMW Varsity Swim & Dive Championship Team Title


The West Plains Lady Zizzers are the 2024 Southwest Missouri Swimming and Diving Champions. The Lady Zizzer Swim Team competed at the Southwest Missouri Championships in Springfield where a year ago they finished Runner-Up to Webb City, the first time any teams had finished 1-2 other than Glendale and Kickapoo.


The Lady Zizzers didn’t lose any swimmers to graduation last year but improved and added depth. “This has been the goal since last year,” said an excited Head Coach Ryan Smith after the team victory Saturday night. “The best part was being able to put all 3 relays into the A Final for the first time. Any time a team can do that, it shows the depth they have and is an extreme boost in points.”


The Lady Zizzers started off the weekend Friday in the preliminaries of the Varsity meet. 12 of the 14 girls competed individually at the varsity meet. Out of 24 individual swims, 20 advanced to finals. This was another “most” set by this Lady Zizzer team during this dream season. Along with the 20 individual finalists, 2 were first alternate, just missing out on the finals. “Prelims is sometimes the tougher of the two days,” remarked Smith. “If you don’t hit, you may get left out of the medals or any final, and you give up some potential points.”


The top 6 in each event qualify for the A Final (Championship Final) to race for the medals. The 200 Medley Relay started it off by qualifying in the 4th position for finals. Addison Peugh (back), Evie Niesen (breast), Riley Spurling (fly), and Roslyn Fiorino (free) went 1:56.50. Paige Sheridan swam her way not only into 2 A Finals but was the top-seed for both the 200 and 500 Free setting the school record in the 200 Free in a time of 1:56.93. Riley Spurling added 2 A Finals with the 200 Free (3rd) and 100 Fly (2nd) as did Addison Peugh in the 200 Individual Medley (5th) and 500 Free (4th). Roslyn Fiorino rounded out the 7 individual A Finals in the 100 Free (4th). The 200 Free Relay of Evie Niesen, Addison Peugh, Abigail Peugh, and Paige Sheridan swam to a season’s best of 1:43.75 to qualify in 2nd. In the last event of the day, the 400 Free Relay of Paige Sheridan, Riley Spurling, Abigail Peugh, and Roslyn Fiorino posted a new school record of 3:45.23 and took the top seed into finals.


Those that finish 7th-12th in prelims qualify for the B Final (Consolation Final). The Lady Zizzers advanced in 8 individual events: Abigail Peugh in the 200 Free (11th) and 500 Free (8th), Penelope Autry in the 200 Individual Medley (7th) and 100 Breast (10th), Evie Niesen in the 50 Free (12th) and 100 Free (7th), Audrey Land in the 100 Fly (9th), and Roslyn Fiorino in the 50 Free (7th).


The C Final (Bonus Final) is for 13th-18th place finishers in prelims. Those advancing to the C Final included: Brylee Barnes in the 200 IM (18th) and 500 Free (14th), Emily Ritter (14th) and Aubrey Gross (15th) in the 100 Fly, and Lilliahna Wake in the 100 Back (17th).


Saturday morning, the JV Timed Finals meet took place with 2 of our swimmers taking home individual medals. Hannah Call won the 100 Fly (1:26.18) and Lily York placed 6th in the 100 Back (1:21.66). They teamed up with Lilliahna Wake and Emily Ritter to take 2nd in the 200 Medley Relay (2:22.44). Penelope Autry, Aubrey Gross, Brylee Barnes, and Audrey Land put together a great race in the 200 Free Relay to take 2nd (1:56.52). Then, to end the meet, Autry, Wake, Ritter, and Land swam to victory in the 400 Free Relay (4:15.33). If they awarded medals to 2 relays from the same team, the relay of Barnes, Call, York, and Gross would have placed 3rd (4:38.77). “The JV meet was created about 5 years ago,” said Smith. “It is great for these swimmers to find success and be honored for their accomplishments.”


Later Saturday afternoon, the Varsity Finals kicked off. Coach Smith loves the environment of a championship meet. “If you have never been to a championship swim meet, it is an environment like no other. The DJ is blasting music; the crowd is electric, especially during relays; and the energy is at an all time high. You just have to be there to experience it.”


The 200 Medley Relay led off the meet once again in the Championship Final. With a great race from start to finish for the foursome, Roslyn Fiorino anchored trying to track down Lebanon and Ozark for 2nd place, but came up just short while going her best relay split ever and 3rd best in Lady Zizzer history. Four-tenths separated 2nd-4th with West Plains (Addison Peugh, Evie Niesen, Riley Spurling, and Fiorino) finishing in 4th.


Paige Sheridan swam away from the field in the 200 Free and won by almost 6 seconds in 1:57.90. Riley Spurling added a medal with a 4th place finish in 2:08.03. Abbie Peugh (12th) added points from the Consolation Final in 2:11.11.


Addison Peugh earned her first of two individual medals on the day in the 200 IM by placing 6th (2:27.16) while Penelope Autry (2:30.14) placed 8th in the Consolation Final, and Brylee Barnes (2:45.48) placed 18th in the Bonus Final.


Roslyn Fiorino and Evie Niesen both added points to the team effort in the 50 Freestyle by placing 8th and 12th, respectively, in the Consolation Final. Fiorino went a time of 25.55, and Niesen went a time of 26.59.


Riley Spurling added a second individual medal in her attempt to track down Kickapoo’s Addy Moore in the 100 Fly. She placed 2nd but took more than a second off of her school record and best time going 1:00.95. Audrey Land (1:11.43) also went a best time on her way to a 10th place finish in the Consolation Final. Emily Ritter (1:17.56) and Aubrey Gross (1:18.30) used surges in the final 25 yards to finish 14th and 15th, respectively, in the Bonus Final, helping the team’s point total.


Roslyn Fiorino swam her way onto the podium with a 4th place finish in the 100 Free (55.85). Evie Niesen finished 9th in the Consolation Final with a time of 57.39.


The highest scoring event of the day came in the 500 Free. “It’s no shock to anyone in the area that West Plains consistently places high and places many in the 500,” said Smith. “There must be something in the water, pun intended.” Paige Sheridan grabbed her 2nd individual win, posting a 5:15.81, more than 26 seconds ahead of 2nd place. Addison Peugh earned her second medal finishing 4th (5:47.99). Abigail Peugh added an 8th place finish (6:01.20) in the Consolation Final, and Brylee Barnes won the Bonus Final in 13th place (6:15.08) to give the Lady Zizzers 68 points in the event and put them in front for good.


Although this is when they took the lead and never gave it back, they couldn’t relax. Kickapoo and Ozark were looking to get back into the lead. The 200 Free Relay was a huge race that came down to 4 teams swimming stroke for stroke the last 15 yards all of the way to the wall. Paige Sheridan held off Lebanon’s Missy Mizell, Carl Junction’s defending State Champion in the 50 Free Chloe Miller, and Kickapoo’s Addy Moore to take the win for the Lady Zizzers team of Evie Niesen, Addison Peugh, Abigail Peugh, and Sheridan. “I may be a little crazy with how I organize relays at times, but these girls step up. Both Peughs and Sheridan had just swam the 500. Then they step up less than 10 minutes later and take the sprint relay win. Who does that?” questioned Smith. “Zizzers can. We do this all of the time. They are used to doing it, and most of the time, we have success.” Sheridan split the fastest 50 relay split ever for her and the 2nd fastest in Lady Zizzer history.


Lilliahna Wake swam a best time by almost 2 seconds in the Bonus Final of the 100 Back (1:14.74) to take 15th place. Penelope Autry placed 10th in the Consolation Final of the 100 Breast with a time of 1:17.37.


When it came down to the final relay, the 400 Free Relay, the Lady Zizzers led Kickapoo by 36 points and Ozark by 78 points. With Kickapoo only able to get 32 points maximum in the Consolation Final, and Ozark only able to get 54 points with a win in the Championship Final, the Lady Zizzers had cemented the team win, but that wasn’t enough for Coach Smith. “I went to the girls in the 400 Free Relay and gave them the ‘safe-starts’ and ‘no-DQs’ speech. I told them I wanted to win the final event, but the team win was more important.”


The Lady Zizzers team of Paige Sheridan, Riley Spurling, Abigail Peugh, and Roslyn Fiorino got out to a fast start with Paige Sheridan breaking the school record in the 100 Free as a relay leadoff in 54.53. Riley Spurling extended the lead with a 56.34 split. Laura Pinzon Torres of Ozark started to gain ground, but Abigail Peugh fought back to split a best time of 57.91. There was just over a second that now separated the Lady Zizzers and Ozark. Roslyn Fiorino and Brooke Guyer battled it out the entire 100, but Fiorino was not to be denied. She got her hand on the wall first, splitting a season’s best 54.68 and capping off not only a relay win, but a new school record by almost 2 seconds for the 400 Free Relay. “I think the building was literally shaking during that final relay. It was such a phenomenal swim by both teams,” said an exhausted Smith, who is frequently seen running and jumping up and down the side of the pool during races.


After the final medals were awarded for the 400 Free Relay, they announced the team standings with Ozark finishing 3rd with 334 points, Kickapoo finishing 2nd with 354 points, and the West Plains Lady Zizzers taking their first Championship with 420 points. “It was our year, and these ladies were not going to be denied. The work they have put in during the season, and the work they do on their own and with the Waves Swim Club in the off-season is paying off big time.”


The Lady Zizzers will head to the Class 1 State Championships next Wednesday, February 14 in St. Peters to compete Thursday and Friday, February 15-16. “We have high expectations and our hopes are up. We want this so bad. 9th last year was great, but we want more!”


There will be a send-off for the Lady Zizzers next Wednesday, February 14 at 1:00 pm at West Plains High School. They will run the halls to cheering students and staff and then out to the parking lot where the community is invited to greet them with signs and cheers to wish them gook luck as they head off to State. They also invite any Zizzer fans to St. Peters for the 2-day meet. Prelims will be contested at Noon on Thursday, February 15. Finals will be at 10 am on Friday, February 16. Tickets are $10 per session and can be purchased on the MSHSAA website.



  1. The Lady Zizzers celebrating their first Southwest Missouri Championship!
  2. Seniors Riley Spurling, Paige Sheridan, Addison Peugh, and Abigail Peugh being recognized at SWMO.
  3. Paige Sheridan on the podium after her win in the 200 Freestyle.
  4. Addison Peugh walking out for her final in the 200 Individual Medley.
  5. Riley Spurling celebrating her school record and best time in the 100 Butterfly.
  6. 200 Freestyle Relay on the podium after their win (Front - Paige Sheridan, Abigail Peugh; Back - Evie Niesen, Addison Peugh).
  7. 400 Freestyle Relay on the podium after their win (Front - Paige Sheridan, Riley Spurling; Back - Abigail Peugh, Roslyn Fiorino)
  8. Hannah Call on the podium after her win in the JV 100 Butterfly.
  9. JV 200 Freestyle Relay on the podium after finishing 2nd place (Penelope Autry, Brylee Barnes, Aubrey Gross, Audrey Land).
  10. Lily York on the podium after her 6th place finish in the JV 100 Backstroke.
  11. JV 400 Freestyle Relay on the podium after their win (Penelope Autry, Emily Ritter, Audrey Land, Lilliahna Wake).