Kennewick High School senior Alexis Murphy usually doesn’t look at where she’s seeded before swim meets because she doesn’t want to psych herself out.
But after Lions coach Trine Tippett told her where she stands ahead of Saturday’s Mukilteo Invitational in Federal Way, Murphy is eager to get on the blocks.
She’s the top seed in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1 minute, 7.80 seconds. Abby Russell, a sophomore from defending Class 2A state champion Liberty of Renton, is seeded second at 1:09.08.
“I’m excited,” Murphy said. “It got me pumped. I want to race hard.”
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According to the psych sheet released Monday, Murphy is seeded fourth in the 100 butterfly (59.61), and her twin sister, Blair, is the No. 9 seed in the 200 freestyle (2:05.07). Both of them are well acquainted with the meet venue, the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center. They competed there during the past three WIAA Class 3A state championships, and they swam in the Mukilteo Invite in 2012 and 2013.
Kennewick did not attend the meet last year, when it was held at Kamiak High School in Mukilteo because of renovations at the Federal Way pool.
Murphy says the atmosphere at the Mukilteo Invite is less intense than at state.
“We have more fun at this one,” said Murphy, who was 15th in the 100 breast at Mukilteo as a freshman and sixth as a sophomore. “At state, we’re there to do business and get it done. But with this one, since we’re taking our whole team, and it’s a new experience for some of them, we want to have fun.”
The Murphys will compete at Mukilteo with teammates Aletha Kleis, Courtney Schreiner, Gabby Humphries, Savannah Martin, Taiylor Brower, Kati Ham, Lindsay Alvarez and Anna Hall.
Last fall, Richland won its third Mukilteo team title in four years, but the Bombers will be without sophomore Claire Schaef, the defending champion in the 500 freestyle. Schaef is an athlete representative at this week’s USA Swimming national convention in Kansas City, Mo.
Richland has three swimmers seeded in the top 10: senior Lauren Hall (No. 3 in the 100 backstroke), junior Katie Schroder (No. 8 in the 100 breast, No. 10 in the 200 individual medley) and senior Alyssa Musick (No. 8 in the 200 IM).
In the relays, the Bombers are seeded sixth in the 400 free, eighth in the 200 free and ninth in the 200 medley. They won the 200 medley and 400 free relays last year.
Kamiakin junior Madison Thurber is seeded ninth in the 100 back and 100 free, and Hanford sophomore Maddie Elliott is No. 9 in the 500 free. The Falcons are eighth in the 400 free relay.
YOUNG GUNS: There is speed in spades among the Mid-Columbia Conference’s youngsters.
The area’s top six times in the 100 free belong to underclassmen: Schaef (56.19), Walla Walla sophomore Paige Gardner (57.56), Elliott (58.04), Southridge freshman Hilary Petersen (58.09), Wa-Hi sophomore Hally Ruff (58.17) and Kamiakin freshman Lilly Thurber (58.79).
Petersen won the 200 IM against Walla Walla, the 50 free against Hanford and the 200 free against Richland. She is seeded 14th in the 100 free and 20th in the 100 back for her first Mukilteo Invite.
“She is a good competitor and has some outstanding finishes,” Suns coach Jason Hart said.
Hanford sophomore Megan Gelston and freshmen Annie Shen, Kayla Burck and Maha Fathali also have had an impact in the pool this year, along with Walla Walla sophomore Hannah Gardner and Richland sophomores Neomi Mennetrot and Marcia Kim.
Many of these athletes developed their skills in club swimming, but high school competition is a different beast, Richland/Hanford coach Randy Willis said.
“They’re gonna learn to race,” Willis said after the Mid-Columbia Invitational on Sept. 19. “That’s one of the things that’s distinctly different — a lot of meets in a real short time. Whereas they’d get one meet a month or a couple meets in a four-month period, they’re gonna get about 10 meets in two months. Aside from the training, they learn to race. I’m excited for what they’re going to do.”