WALLA WALLA — It was a big night for Natalie Fink, as her four victories led the Walla Walla High School girls swim team to a dual-meet win against Southridge.
Fink collected first places in the 200 freestyle and 100 breaststroke, as well as both the 200 medley relay and 400 free relay, as the Blue Devils rolled to a 100-69 win.
Kamiakin was also at the event, swimming in an exhibition meet.
Wa-Hi head coach Katharine Curles heaped praise on her senior for her dedication during the offseason.
“She did so, so good today,” Curles said of Fink. “She put in so much time in the offseason. Natalie came to us as a freshman not having any swimming experience. Now, as a senior, swimming year-round, and she’s really gotten out there. She’s been hoping to shine like that — for her to get the double-first and lead the team today was so solid.”
Fink finished the 200 free in 2:13.62, which was more than four seconds faster than Southridge’s Jaiden Hamilton, who finished second. In the 100 breast stroke, Fink bested the competition by more than five seconds with a time of 1:17.87.
Wa-Hi scored points with its distance team throughout the night, as the Blue Devils took first and second in the 500 free. Mackenzie Hale finished in first with a time of 5:28.98 and teammate Whitney Lux in second as she swam a personal-best of 6:09.02. Lux has dropped 15 seconds from her time at the start of the season, Curles said.
Curles said she did not expect distance to be one of her team’s strengths coming into the year, so Wa-Hi’s performance was a pleasant surprise.
“Going 1-2 was awesome,” Curles said. “(Whitney’s) swimming out of her mind. Going 1-2 was really helpful point-wise. The whole team was cheering for her and having that team-bonding was really fun.”
In the 200 individual medley, Lacey Klem and Jennifer Cho finished first and third, respectively. Klem came in with a time of 2:34.57 and Cho finished in 2:55.15.
Curles said Klem, a freshman, has done a great job leading the team this season.
As for Cho, Curles was downright giddy, considering it was Cho’s first time competing in the event.
“It was Jennifer’s first time doing the 200 IM,” Curles said. “She was not feeling great and she went in there and raced and found her race. Her first half was so strong and then she pulled it together and finished strong. She looked confident.”
Wa-Hi’s relay teams cruised to victories, as the 200 medley relay team of Hale, Fink, Heather Hall and Klem finished first with a time of 2:05.31.
The 400 free relay squad of Fink, Natalie Coleman, Klem and Hale also collected first in a time of 4:11.89.
In the 200 free relay, all four of Wa-Hi’s swimmers collected personal bests. The team of Ball, Cho, Hannah Theil and Kaelie Coleman all split under 30 seconds, respectively, as the Blue Devils took second with a time of 1:56.54.
“We stacked the 200 medley and 400 free and did really well in that,” Curles said. “The 200 free relay was a lot of people who don’t do a lot of sprinting. But the fact that all of them split 28 and 29 (seconds) is unheard of.”
The Blue Devils are competing at the Tri-Cities Championships Saturday at George Prout Pool in Richland.