Hanford High School sophomores Skyler Younkin, John Markillie and Jack Elliott have swum together since they were in elementary school, so it’s natural to see a little friendly competition among them from time to time.
But as far as who wins in head-to-head races, they say it’s a toss-up.
“Mostly who has the better mindset and who’s feeling good in the water,” Elliott said.
Those duels in the pool have helped prepare the trio for the Class 4A state meet, which starts Friday in Federal Way. Hanford is coming off a second-place finish at the District 4/5 championships in Kelso.
Since Younkin, Markillie and Elliott swam at last year’s 3A state championships, Hanford/Richland coach Jesse Grow has watched each of them become more mature and self-assured.
“They’re all very invested in their own improvement,” Grow said. “Instead of just waiting for a coach to tell them what to do, they’re asking, ‘What can I do?’ It’s that initiative that I really enjoy about that group at such a young age.”
Younkin, who attended Tri-Cities Prep before transferring to Hanford ahead of this school year, finished seventh at state last winter for the Falcons in the 100-yard butterfly. He turned in a pair of record-setting performances in the fly during last weekend’s district meet at Gaither Pool.
Younkin set a pool and meet record of 51.06 seconds during preliminaries, then broke it in finals the next day with his winning time of 50.70. That time gives him the No. 1 seed entering the 4A state preliminaries at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center.
“I’m feeling kind of nervous but confident at the same time,” he said.
Younkin also will swim the 200 freestyle, an event in which he finished fifth at districts with a state-qualifying time. The top two in each event automatically received state berths.
Younkin was 13th — a spot ahead of Markillie — in the 200 free at last year’s state meet.
Swimming lifetime bests, Markillie took second at districts in the 200 and 500 free behind Camas junior Mark Kim, the defending 4A state champion in both events.
“I was really excited to compete against him,” said Markillie, who last year finished 11th at state in the 500. “The 200 and 500 were probably the two most fun races that I’ve ever done at a high school meet.”
Elliott was fourth at districts in the 100 breaststroke and 500 free, but he earned his state-qualifying time in the 500 during prelims. As a freshman, he was 22nd at state in the 200 individual medley.
This year, Elliott is seeded fifth in the 500 free, while Markillie is third in the 500 and fourth in the 200.
They will join forces with Younkin this weekend in the 400 free relay. At districts, the Falcons dropped almost 10 seconds off their prelim swim to advance with a state-qualifying time of 3 minutes, 18.96 seconds.
Elliott, Markillie and Younkin are proud of racing so well in what they and their coach say is the fastest district in the state. If the sophomores’ success so far is any indication, the future of Hanford boys swimming is bright.
“Hanford’s really starting to come on these last couple years as a strong swim team,” Younkin said, “and they haven’t really been as much before, so it feels good to make the team stronger every year.”
The Kamiakin Braves will go for their fourth consecutive Class 1A/2A/3A state title Thursday at the Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall. Individual finals are Friday.
Kamiakin placed second in last Saturday’s quad-district meet at Ballard High School. The top four teams — Holy Names, Kamiakin, Lake Washington and Mt. Spokane — earned a trip to Tacoma. Kelsey Dearing, Samantha Harper, Sophia Mancinelli, Piper Polanik, Ryanne Rogers and Abby Winstead helped the Braves score 175.95, while winner Holy Names finished at 178.0.
Southridge’s Makayla Hui and Mackinley Morgan will compete at state in individual events.
WIAA STATE SWIMMING AND DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
When/where: Friday-Saturday, Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center, Federal Way.
Schedule: Friday’s preliminaries — 4A, 9:45 a.m.; 2A, 2 p.m.; 3A, 6:30 p.m.; Saturday’s finals — 4A, 9:30 a.m.; 2A, 2:15 p.m.; 3A, 7 p.m.
LOCAL STATE QUALIFIERS (w/seeds)
200 medley relay: 9, Hanford 1:42.00; 15, Richland 1:43.62 (wild card); 200 freestyle: 2, Cole Westendorf (Rich) 1:45.52; 4, John Markillie (Han) 1:45.95; 6, Luke Elmenhurst (Walla Walla) 1:46.68; 11, Skyler Younkin (Han) 1:47.99; 50 freestyle: 7, Brady Myers (Han) 22.04; Diving: 23, Remi Marvel (Han) 274.25; 24, Ryan McClelland (Rich) 197.55; 100 butterfly: 1, Younkin (Han) 50.70; 3, Myers (Han) 52.16; 11, Jeff Kern (Rich) 53.62; 100 freestyle: 10, Elmenhurst (WW) 49.12; 500 freestyle: 2, Westendorf (Rich) 4:40.92; 3, Markillie (Han) 4:45.90; 5, Jack Elliott (Han) 4:55.36; 7, Addison Pollick (Rich) 4:56.79; 9, Kern (Rich) 4:58.20; 200 freestyle relay: 11, Hanford 1:31.31; 100 backstroke: 16, Pollick (Rich) 56.66 (WC); 400 freestyle relay: 7, Hanford 3:18.96; 15, Richland 3:23.49.
50 freestyle: 16, Tavian Valenzuela (Grandview) 23.64 (WC); 23, Kord Tuttle (Prosser) 24.44 (WC); 200 freestyle relay: 23, Prosser 1:44.36 (WC); 100 backstroke: 22, Levi Russell (Pro) 1:02.57 (WC); 100 breaststroke: 14, Valenzuela (Gra) 1:05.98; 400 freestyle relay: 19, Prosser 3:58.16.