WALLA WALLA — Walla Walla High School swim coach Katharine Curles allowed her boys a lot of freedom against West Valley on Tuesday.
Not only did the Blue Devil swimmers select their own events, but the team also warmed up its vocal chords by singing the national anthem before the meet.
Curles’ tactic paid off however, as Wa-Hi beat the Rams, 186-100.
The Blue Devils got a major boost from senior Braden Kimball, who took first in the 50 freestyle with a time of 24.07 seconds and second in the 100 freestyle with a time of 54.16 seconds. Both times were personal bests.
“Braden was on fire today,” Curles said. “He went two lifetime bests. His 100 free was his best by over a second.”
Kimball also added two more first-place finishes in both the 200 and 400 free relays.
In the 200, he teamed up with Joe McKeirnan, Russell Skorina and Tyler Jones as the squad shaved four seconds off its best time with a 1:38.73.
Tuesday was Skorina’s first meet with the squad, as he’s been busy with other engagements, but Curles was pleased to have him back in the pool.
“That was definitely our relay’s best time,” she said. “That was great swims for everybody. It was nice to have Russell back in that relay. We haven’t done the same relay twice, which is a really fun game to play and have that flexibility.”
Wa-Hi’s B-team also took second in the 200 relay, as Wiley Townsend, Eric Cho, Ryder Magnaghi and Cole Woelfle teamed up to finish with a time of 1:45.26.
In the 400 free relay, the Blue Devils took first and third. The A-team of Kimball, McKeirnan, Jones and Darian Corpus went 3:37.25 in the event, as Jones swam a 53.02 split in the event to overcome West Valley’s lead on the final leg.
“That was the same exact time they ended up going at Pullman last week,” Curles said. “That was their second fastest time all season. (McKeirnan) especially had a really fast leg in that and that was a really good race for him.”
Wa-Hi’s second relay in the 400 also took third with a time of 3:58.56. Townsend and Woelfle both broke the minute barrier on their splits in the event.
In the 200 free, Jones was only nine-tenths of a second off a state berth with a lifetime best of 1:50.98. Jones, who practiced in the morning with his club team on Tuesday, shaved nearly a second off his personal best.
“Tyler really wants that state cut and he’s so close he can taste it,” Curles said. “He’s so close to it and it’s really frustrating to see it, but fun to see him get closer and closer.”
In the 200 individual medley, Wa-Hi took the top three spots with Corpus, Bryan Lopez-Vargas and Eddie Kaminsky taking first, second and third, respectively. Corpus, who also had morning club practice, used a 34.98 second split in his backstroke leg to take a commanding lead in the event. He finished with a time of 2:19.16.
“Darian was only two seconds off his district time last year,” Curles said. “He had a really good backstroke leg. I thought it was a really good swim.”
Lopez-Vargas tied his personal best with a time of 2:26.21 and Kaminsky finished in 2:33.23.
Skorina soared in the 100 butterfly, as he finished three seconds faster than the next closest competitor. Skorina came in with a time of 56.27, which is less than a second away from a state berth.
“He did great today,” Curles said of Skorina. “State for (the 100 fly) is a 55.50, so he’s only a second off of it. He’ll get it. That was really fun to see where he’s at.”
He also took first in the 100 breaststroke, as he bested the competition by nearly three seconds with a 1:06.84.
In the 500 free, Chris Yaw shaved seven seconds off his personal best en route to a first place finish. His 5:32.13 was more than 16 seconds faster than Townsend, who finished second.
“He swam really well,” Curles said of Yaw. “He’s a little guy who’s figuring out how to swim distance and getting stronger and stronger.”
Curles also credited Townsend, a senior, for his time of 5:49.39. He had not swam the event since his freshman year, but after competing in the 200 free earlier this year, Townsend asked Curles to swim the 500 free. Townsend also finished second in the 100 breaststroke.
Wa-Hi returns to the pool in Wenatchee on Saturday.