Whether in dual meets or at invitationals, the Richland girls swimming team usually has no problem taking care of business.
Saturday was no exception as the Bombers ruled the Tri-City Championships at Prout Pool in Richland. They won all but one event against their Mid-Columbia Conference rivals and took the team title with 346 points, well ahead of Kamiakin (202) and third-place Hanford (169).
“We had a lot of them in off events, and that sort of renews interest or changes things up,” Richland/Hanford coach Randy Willis said via phone. “And some younger ones came through with some good times.”
Richland junior Alyssa Musick won the 200-yard individual medley and 100 butterfly, while senior captain McKenzie Schroder swam to victories in the 50 and 500 free.
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Schroder’s younger sister Katie took first in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1 minute, 12.62 seconds, beating out Kennewick junior Alexis Murphy (1:12.83). Freshman Claire Schaef (100 free) and sophomore BreAnn Bell (200 free) also picked up victories for the Bombers.
Richland swept all three relays, while junior Kelsea Hinkley accumulated 245.25 points to win the diving competition. Hinkley qualified for state Friday at an 11-dive meet in Wenatchee.
The lone non-Richland competitor to win an event was Kamiakin sophomore Madison Thurber in the 100 backstroke. Thurber clocked in at 1:04.52, just ahead of Walla Walla’s Mackenzie Hale (1:04.67) and Paige Gardner (1:04.72).
Kamiakin coach Kathy Spane was ecstatic about the Braves’ runner-up finish in the team standings.
“We paid our dues, trust me,” she said. “Last place many times.”
Senior Claire Megna took second in the 500 free, and teammates Erin Child and Courtney Lewis joined her in the top eight. Megna (200 free) and Thurber (50 free) also each earned a third-place finish, and the Braves’ 200 medley and 200 free relays finished in the top four.
Relays are an area of focus for Spane, Willis and their fellow MCC coaches, particularly as the postseason nears.
“With Hanford, the medley relay time still continues to come down, so that’s good,” said Willis, whose Falcons turned in a second-place time of 2:02.44. “We’re tracking and heading in the right direction. Obviously, our objective is to get a couple of them to state.”
The Bombers’ 400 free relay is the only MCC team to record a state-qualifying time thus far, and the opportunities to get more of those marks are dwindling.
Richland will try to cap an undefeated MCC dual meet season Tuesday against Kennewick. The Bombers will get 11 days off before facing Wenatchee on Oct. 25 — a challenge that Willis is eager to accept. The Panthers beat Richland earlier this season and have won four of the past five Class 4A district titles.
“We will take advantage of the fact that we can train particularly hard,” Willis said. “We’ll take advantage of no meet interruptions to increase training yardage and increase intensity of training.”
Meanwhile, another Tri-City battle is on the horizon.
Hanford, Kamiakin, Southridge and Kennewick will face off at the 3A district meet in Ellensburg on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. The district has one state allocation per event, heightening the stakes for all four teams, including six-time defending district champion Hanford.
“(Willis) did put up a good lineup in our dual meet, and their divers are amazing,” Spane said. “When you watch them dive, they’re very impressive. They could kill the dives and bring in the points, but we’ve got depth and we’re getting stronger.”