Hanford Champion
Year: 2010
Team: Swimming
State Meet - Third Place
The Hanford lineup of junior Melissa Merrill, sophomore Stephanie Tixier, and seniors Christine Tixier and Kristen Bennett won the 200 freestyle relay 3A state championship with a time of 1:38.45 on Saturday at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.

The Falcons placed third overall with 203 team points, Hanford's highest state finish ever, but the 200 free relay was remarkable unto itself and is a feat which will speak volumes for the team in years to come, as earlier in the day Merrill, the race's leadoff swimmer, received on her heel five stitches following an in-pool incident during final warmups.

"Her foot hit the bulkhead," said Hanford coach Kathy Piper. "She had about an inch-and-a-half slice across the meaty portion of her heel that went a quarter-inch deep.

"There was a lot of blood and 'Oh my gosh, oh my gosh', and we had less than six minutes before the first race," said Piper who noted that first-aid skills were quickly contributed by team parent Susanne Tixier.

And, with the clock ticking, Hanford freshman Taylor Fievez stepped in to replace Merrill for the backstroke portion of the 200 medley relay where she posted a lifetime best 29-seconds flat and the team, which also included Christine and Stephanie Tixier as well as junior Taylor Burnight finished 2nd overall (1:51.32).

Meanwhile, a physician attended to Merrill's foot and she was back in the water for the 100 free event where she placed 8th with a time of 55.77 seconds.

"It didn't hurt terribly, just because they numbed it," Merrill said. "I couldn't feel anything for a while, and when it did start to hurt I told myself that I can get through it, but I didn't even pay much attention to it."

And when finally faced with the challenge of leading off the 200 free relay, she kept a positive outlook and concentrated on the business at hand.

"I could still help my team out by doing my best and not giving up. I just kept that in my mind and did the best I could."

As matter of fact, the entire team gave it their all today with highlights including school records in the 200 IM and 100 butterfly races.

Kristen Bennet's time of 2:08.93 in the 200 IM not only earned her 3rd-place finish, it also replaced the record set in 1990 by Christine Miller.

And Christine Tixier, who posted the 100 fly's SR with a 4th-place time of 57.64 seconds, recorded not only a lifetime best in the 100 breaststroke (3rd, 1:07.67) but also the event's highest Hanford finish in 20 years.

Christine also noted her participation in the 200 freestyle relay race as a personal highlight.

"I'm really proud of everybody," she said. "It was pretty incredible. It was awesome."

And Piper agrees with that summation of the day.

"It was just an amazing day for Hanford, it was kind of a little bit of drama, a lot of excitement. ...Melissa just rallied and was so courageous and amazing, and the team was amazing to rally around that drama.

"I couldn't be more proud of these girls finishing and representing Hanford."

3A State

Top 5 and area results

Team scores--3, Hanford 203. Other team scores unavailable.

200 medley relay--1, Mercer Island 1:50.34; 2, Hanford (Taylor Fievez, Christine Tixier, Stephanie Tixier, Taylor Burnight) 1:51.32; 3, Bainbridge 1:51.80; 4, Bellevue 1:52.96; 5, Kennedy 1:53.86; Southridge (Megan O'Leary, Katelyn McLaughlin, Cassidy Rosenbaum, Alisha Sanchez) 1:58.07.

200 free--1, Dana Michaels (Shorewood) 1:50.63; 2, M. Bottelberghe (Columbia River) 1:52.15; 3, Geneva Levy (Bainbridge) 1:55.78; 4, R. Schneider (Bellevue) 1:55.95; 5, Amanda Clark (Capital) 1:56.21.

200 IM--1, Grace Wold (Mercer Island) 2:04.75; 2, J. Bottelberghe (Columbia RIver) 2:05.55; 3, Kristen Bennett (Hanford) 2:08.93; 4, Rachael Kurtz (Juanita) 2:09.15; 5, Kelsey Crowder (Decatur) 2:11.00.

50 free--1, Lauren Kaufman (Hazen 23.31; 2, Anna Keane (Meadowdale) 23.84; 3, Peggy Liang (Mountain View) 24.20; 4, Melissa Randolf (Glacier Peak) 24.38; 5, Lauren Poli (Mercer Island) 24.43; 6, Stephanie Tixier (Hanford) 24.45; 11, Toni Castillo (Sunnyside) 25.31; 14, Alisha Sanchez (Southridge) 25.61.

50 free--1, Lauren Kaufman (Hazen 23.31; 2, Anna Keane (Meadowdale) 23.84; 3, Peggy Liang (Mountain View) 24.20; 4, Melissa Randolf (Glacier Peak) 24.38; 5, Lauren Poli (Mercer Island) 24.43; 6, Stephanie Tixier (Hanford) 24.45; 11, Toni Castillo (Sunnyside) 25.31; 14, Alisha Sanchez (Southridge) 25.61.

Diving--1, C. Pinczower (Juanita) 404.30; 2, Ashley Knox (Kennedy) 372.00; 3, Paige Greeley (Kennedy) 347.50; 4, S. Engelbrecht (Bainbridge) 340.30; 5, Libby Fogel (Peninsula) 323.20.

100 fly--1, Grace Wold (Mercer Island) 56.22; 2, Tess Harpur (Bainbridge) 57.16; 3, Hannah Weiss (Bellevue) 57.29; 4, Christine Tixier (Hanford) 57.64; 5, J. Bottelberghe (Columbia River) 57.68; 6, Stephanie Tixier (Hanford) 58.11; 8, Toni Castillo (Sunnyside) 1:00.10.

100 free--1, Lauren Kaufman (Hazen) 51.26; 2, Anna Keane (Meadowdale) 52.07; 3, Peggy Liang (Mountain View) 52.08; 4, Rachael Kurtz (Juanita) 52.22; 5, M. Bottelberghe (Columbia River) 52.37; 8, Melissa Merrill (Hanford) 55.77; 11, Hailey Murphy (Kennewick) 1:00.95.

500 free--1, Dana Michaels (Shorewood) 4:57.78; 2, Kristen Bennett (Hanford) 5:08.14; 3, Sarah Grundman (Bainbridge) 5:08.29; 4, Amanda Clark (Capital) 5:09.67; 5, Josie Antilla (Holy Names) 5:10.01; 13, Mylie Oberg (Hanford) 5:32.05.

200 free relay--1, Hanford (Melissa Merrill, Stephanie Tixier, Christine Tixier, Kristen Bennett) 1:38.45; 2, Columbia River 1:40.15; 3, Bainbridge 1:40.25; 4, Shorewood 1:40.26; 5, Mercer Island 1:41.44; 6, Southridge (Katelyn McLaughlin, Megan O'Leary, Breanna Lyons, Alisha Sanchez) 1:42.85.