The early weeks of the Mid-Columbia high school boys swim season have shown that Hanford and Richland are set up nicely for success this season — and for future years, too.
In last Saturday’s double dual against Richland and Walla Walla, Hanford junior Brady Myers swam a Class 3A state-qualifying time of 53.39 seconds in the 100-yard butterfly. He’s also less than a second away from a state cut in the 50 freestyle.
Hanford and Richland, both led by second-year coach Jesse Grow, will face West Valley on Saturday in their final meet before winter break. They resume the season Jan. 9 at the Kentridge Invite in Federal Way.
Myers and seniors Daniel Dohnalek and Matt Wagnon are back from the Hanford squad that finished 15th at state last season. The Falcons also gained three freshmen from the Tri-City Channel Cats club team: Skyler Younkin, John Markillie and Jack Elliott.
“Skyler is looking to get the state time here soon, probably at Kentridge, in the 100 fly,” Grow said. “He’ll be instrumental in all the relays.”
Grow has pegged Markillie, a club distance swimmer, for the 200 and 500 free. Elliott’s best events are expected to be the 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley.
“He’s got the heart and brain of someone twice his size,” Grow said of Elliott, the younger brother of Hanford girls swimmer Maddie Elliott. “He’s a hard worker.”
Collectively, the area’s biggest postseason threat appears to be Richland, which returns most of last season’s sixth-place 4A state team.
Seniors Scott Francis and Charles Fillebrown, juniors Cole Westendorf and Jeff Kern, and sophomores Addison Pollick and Conor McShane led the Bombers past Hanford and Walla Walla last week. Fellow state veteran Luis Hernandez, a senior, competed in the season-opening Moses Lake pentathlon.
Richland also welcomed back junior Cade Musick, who missed the last postseason because of stress fractures in his spine.
Kern was the Bombers’ top placer at last season’s state meet, finishing fourth in the 500 free and sixth in the 200 free.
“He wants to go in and do better than he did last year,” Grow said. “It’s crazy to see these young adults mature from one year to the next.”
Walla Walla graduated Tyler Jones, last season’s 4A state champion in the 500 free, but still has state swimmers Chris Yaw (200 and 500 free) and relay duo Darian Corpus and Eric Cho, all seniors.
Luke Elmenhurst, who raced at state last season as a freshman in the 200 and 400 free relays, is out of the pool after undergoing surgery.
The Blue Devils are leaning on the experience they have, with Yaw and junior breaststroker Calum Close earning wins against Hanford last week.
“Half our team is brand new,” coach Nancy Rose said. “Fifteen boys never swam before. One of them just learned to swim.”
Grandview coach Patrick Elerding has added to his workload this season. Thanks to a new co-op situation, he’s also coaching the Prosser boys team.
Elerding is overseeing 11 swimmers — five from Grandview and six from Prosser, which originally had two boys signed up for this season.
“It will probably stay as a co-op unless the team grows significantly over the next couple years,” Elerding said.
Elerding believes junior Tavian Valenzuela and senior Micah Binfet, both state swimmers last season, will be key contributors again for Grandview. Junior Levi Russell has emerged as a swimmer to watch at Prosser. All three won this week against Medical Lake and Cheney.