WALLA WALLA — The Walla Walla High School boys swim team’s depth was on full display as it squared off with Richland and Hanford at Whitman College’s Harvey Pool on Saturday.
The Blue Devils entered the 400-yard freestyle relay tied with Hanford and trailing Richland, but could not overcome Hanford’s A-team, which posted a first-place finish in only 3:23.13. Walla Walla’s top relay of Russell Skorina, Joe McKiernan, Darian Corpus and Tyler Jones finished in 3:42.87, which was second to both Hanford and Richland, respectively.
With the relay finish, the Falcons prevailed 86-84 while Richland bested Wa-Hi 107-64.
“Richland and Hanford have a lot of really fast year-round swimmers,” Curles said. “I was really excited for what our depth could do, knowing they’re going to be rocking first places for almost everything. It was really fun to see our guys get out there and race.”
Tyler Jones was the lone Blue Devil to secure wins against both Hanford and Richland. Jones, with his older brother Carl at the meet for his induction into the Wa-Hi Hall of Fame this weekend, set two personal records in the 200 and 500 free. He finished with a time of 1:50.52 in the 200 free, which is only two-tenths off a state berth, and swam a 4:56.94 in the 500 free, which he has already qualified for state in.
“Tyler just swam so well,” Curles said. “It’s so fun watching him swim when his brother is on deck. He has so much respect for Carl — and rivalry — and it’s so fun to see them have their connection. I knew he was going to go two best times today because that’s what he does when Carl’s around.”
Chris Yaw finished fourth overall in the 500 free, as he cut nearly four seconds off his best time with a 5:28.58.
“It was great,” Curles said. “Last night, he said he wanted to go below a 5:30 (and) the whole team got behind him. That was the best split race I’ve ever seen Chris swim. He sees himself as a distance swimmer and he’s really filling into that.”
Outside of Jones, Braden Kimball also set two personal records in the 50 free and 100 free. Kimball finished second to Richland’s Ashton Pollick in the 50 free, but his race of 23.87 seconds was good enough for first place against Hanford.
Curles said Kimball’s aim entering the meet was to finish in under 24 seconds.
“Braden had a great day,” Curles said. “Last night at team dinner, we went around and everyone said what their goals were. It was really fun for the whole team to be cognizant of one another’s goals for the day. He was ecstatic.”
In the 200 individual medley, Wa-Hi only managed fourth and fifth-place finishes overall, but McKiernan shaved more than nine seconds off his best time with a 2:25.34. Corpus also finished fourth with a time of 2:20.04.
Curles said she decided two weeks ago to put McKeirnan in the IM, which has resulted in him dropping over 20 seconds in two meets.
“He’s a really good all-around swimmer,” Curles said. “He’s becoming a wonderful sprinter, but our team’s deficit is in the 200 IM and he’s filling that deficit really well.”
In the 200 free relay, the team of Kimball, Skorina, Corpus and Jones combined to finish in 1:37.84 for a second-place finish to both Hanford and Richland.
Curles said she has tinkered with her relay choices throughout the year, but with districts coming up she is getting a better idea of what her swimmers are capable of.
“It was a great split for Darian in that and Braden as well,” she said. “I have no idea what we’ll do for our district relays, but it’s fun to see where we’re at right now.”
The 200 medley relay also secured a personal record by two seconds, as Eddie Kaminsky, Wiley Townsend, Kimball and McKeirnan combined for a 1:52.83 finish.
“The fact that we got a PR on that relay with it being Eddie, Wiley and Joe — all of whom haven’t really swam on the ‘A’ team — shows so much about our depth.”
After taking the SAT earlier in the day, Skorina finished third overall in the 100 butterfly with a time of 56.71. Curles said Skorina is only 1.5 seconds away from a state berth.
The Blue Devils will now focus on the district meet in Ellensburg on Feb. 7. Wa-Hi will take its top 22 swimmers to districts.