The Kamiakin High School girls swimming team has chalked up one milestone after another this season.
When the year began, coach Kathy Spane had her biggest-ever team at 36 swimmers. The Braves then went on to achieve big things in the pool, starting with their third-place finish at the Mid-Columbia Invitational on Sept. 20.
In a Class 3A Mid-Columbia Conference showdown with Hanford on Sept. 30, Kamiakin mounted a strong challenge against the six-time defending district champion before losing 96-90.
At last weekend’s Mukilteo Invitational at Kamiak High School, Kamiakin finished sixth and outscored Hanford and fellow 3A MCC team Southridge. On Tuesday, the Braves beat Walla Walla 108-75, earning their first conference win over the Blue Devils in Spane’s six-year tenure.
“We’ve never scored 108 points before. We’d never scored 90 points before,” Spane said. “We’ve had a lot of firsts this year. They’re all sticking together. It’s exciting.”
Against Walla Walla, the Braves nabbed at least two of the top three spots in 10 of 12 events. In the Hanford meet, Kamiakin stayed close with a top-three sweep of the 100 backstroke and 2-3-4 finishes in the 200 individual medley, 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke.
“We have a middle group that has come alive, and we don’t just have depth,” Spane said. “We’re getting second-third-fourth, or 1-3-4. We didn’t used to do that. If we won a race or got second, we usually didn’t get anything else.”
Sophomores Madison Thurber and Carisimma Sartor, junior Sydney Caufield and senior Claire Megna paced the Braves at Mukilteo. The quartet swam on Kamiakin’s fifth-place 200 medley and sixth-place 200 free relay teams. Thurber was third in the 100 backstroke and fourth in the 100 free, and Megna took fifth in the 500 free.
The Mukilteo Invite usually is held at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, but it’s undergoing renovations ahead of next month’s state meet. The smaller Kamiak pool might have helped the Braves, Spane said.
“The blocks are higher (at the KCAC). The bulkhead’s there. It’s hard to adjust,” Spane said. “That pool was perfect.”
The Bombers are undefeated in the MCC, and they won their third team title at Mukilteo.
The Mukilteo Invite marked the return of junior Lauren Hall, who hadn’t raced since March because of a concussion. She finished second in the 100 back and third in the 100 fly.
“We were all real pleased with how she swam,” Richland/Hanford coach Randy Willis said. “We didn’t quite know what to expect because it had been so long since she had a competitive race.”
Senior McKenzie Schroder won the 200 free in 1 minute, 59.26 seconds, edging freshman teammate Claire Schaef, and took second in the 100 free (54.81). Schroder qualified for state in both events.
“It’s the first time in her career she’s had two state-qualifying times before she got to districts,” Willis said. “So now that takes a lot of anxiety off the kid’s shoulders because they can continue to train hard and not worry that, ‘if I don’t have the good meet or the perfect swim, I won’t make it.’ ”
The Bombers’ 400 free relay team of Schroder, Hall, Schaef and junior Alyssa Musick qualified for state with their winning time of 3:45.01. The 200 medley relay team of Hall, Musick and the Schroder sisters — McKenzie and sophomore Katie — took first in 1:56.01, just missing the Class 4A state-qualifying standard of 1:55.99.
The Bombers’ next attempt at going under that mark will come Saturday at the Tri-City Championships at Prout Pool in Richland.
“I’d like to get one relay time out of the way this weekend,” Willis said.