The conference name might be different this year, but most of the power still lies with the Richland schools when it comes to swimming.
The Richland Bombers and Hanford Falcons won 10 events between them at Saturday’s Mid-Columbia Invitational at Serier Pool in Kennewick, and the Bombers claimed the team title by just two points, 276-274.
“It was pretty nice to beat Hanford,” said Richland senior Vanessa Whattam, who won the 50-yard freestyle and 100 backstroke. “It seems like all four years we’ve been on the team, they’ve beat us, but we have a pretty strong group of seniors this year, and it all came together for us.”
The Falcons had a 26-point lead over the Bombers after winning four of the first six events, but as is the case with swimming, you can’t get too comfortable knowing what -- or who -- could be lurking behind you.
And these teams know each other very well.
Richland won the 200 free relay, and its A, B and C teams totaled 48 points to Hanford’s 38. The victory also jump-started a four-event win streak by the Bombers.
After Whattam cruised in the 100 back, Lisa Bratton took the 100 breaststroke, and Richland triumphed in the day’s final event, the 200 medley relay.
Richland/Hanford coach Kathy Piper was happy with the showing from both of her teams, including state-qualifying times by Hanford’s Mylie Oberg (500 free, 5:27.82) and Lisa Tixier (200 individual medley, 2:13.28). She was eager to test her swimmers by entering them in events where they’re not as strong.
“We just wanted to get a look at where they’re at and figure out where we want to go for the season,” Piper said. “Richland’s pretty strong in the strokes this year and has just a tad more depth than Hanford.”
Though Stephanie Tixier doesn’t normally swim the 200 free, the Hanford senior won in 2:04.81. She then clocked 59.05 in the 100 butterfly, beating Bratton’s 1:00.13.
“The 100 fly was probably my best race,” Tixier said. “The 200 free wasn’t very good. I’d like to go 2:01 instead of 2:04.”
Prosser’s Hailey Rankin wasn’t satisfied with her state-qualifying time of 5:33.73 in the 500 free, but after undergoing knee surgery and taking the summer off, she was happy to hang with Tixier and Bratton in the 100 fly, clocking 1:02.30 for third place.
“I was really proud of the 100 fly,” she said. “It wasn’t my best time, but I was confident in what I did swim.”
The top three finishers in the 100 fly posted state-qualifying times in their respective classes.
In diving, Kamiakin’s Danielle Brandon won with 176 points. Her teammate, fellow 2011 state participant Jessica Anderson, was out because of an ankle injury, while Southridge’s Danielle Freund, recovering from a concussion, hopes to be cleared for competition this week. She will visit the doctor Monday, according to Suns dive coach Mike Sandbeck.
Walla Walla swimmer Emma Timm-Ballard, who held the top seed times in the 100 back and 200 free, also didn’t make the meet because of a fever.
Team scores—Richland 276, Hanford 274, Walla Walla 175, Kennewick 114, Southridge 108, Kamiakin 97.5, Ellensburg 84, Prosser 71.5. 400 free relay—1, Hanford A 3:50.54 (SQ); 2, Kennewick A 3:56.63; 3, Walla Walla 4:00.79. 200 free—1, Stephanie Tixier (Han) 2:04.81; 2, Lauren Hall (Rich) 2:10.84; 3, Rachel Schafer (SR) 2:11.51. 200 IM—1, Lisa Tixier (Han) 2:13.28 (SQ); 2, Abby Crowley (WW) 2:16.57; 3, McKenzie Schroder (Rich) 2:18.67. 50 free—1, Vanessa Whattam (Rich) 25.76; 2, Katelyn McLaughlin (SR) 26.24; 3, Breanna Lyons (SR) 26.79. Diving—1, Danielle Brandon (Kam) 176.00; 2, Carly Garland (Rich) 173.50; 3, Kayla Lassiter (Han) 129.55. 100 fly—1, S. Tixier (Han) 59.05 (SQ); 2, Lisa Bratton (Rich) 1:00.13 (SQ); 3, Hailey Rankin (Pro) 1:02.30 (SQ). 100 free—1, Taylor Wilson (Ell) 55.85 (SQ); 2, Crowley (WW) 56.75; 3, Sarah Olsen (Rich) 58.28. 500 free—1, Mylie Oberg (Han) 5:27.82; (SQ) 2, Rankin (Pro) 5:33.73 (SQ); 3, Alexis Murphy (Ken) 5:51.70. 200 free relay—1, Richland A 1:44.60; 2, Hanford A 1:45.04 (SQ); 3, Southridge A 1:51.38. 100 back—1, Whattam (Rich) 1:06.41; 2, Kelsey Olsen (Rich) 1:08.67; 3, Elli Rassbach (WW) 1:10.26. 100 breast—1, Bratton (Rich) 1:11.40; 2, Wilson (Ell) 1:11.91 (SQ); 3, L. Tixier (Han) 1:12.61. 200 medley relay—1, Richland A 1:59.51; 2, Kennewick A 2:02.34; 3, Walla Walla A 2:05.37.
w Katie Dorsey: 582-1526; firstname.lastname@example.org