State swimming: A true team effort at La Center

Wildcats will have relay teams; plus a list of all athletes from Clark County competing at state

LA CENTER — A year ago at this time, Hailey Grotte and Bryanna Ungs were getting ready to compete in the Class 2A/1A state swim meet, but they also had their eye on the 2019 championships.

For the first time, the La Center Wildcats have enough athletes to make for a relay team at the state championships this week. In 2016, there was just one swimmer on the team. Now the Wildcats have a total of five competing this weekend in Federal Way. From left to right: Sabrina Joner, Rebekah Skufca, Bryanna Ungs, Hailey Grotte, and Riley Bingham. Photo courtesy La Center athletics
For the first time, the La Center Wildcats have enough athletes to make for a relay team at the state championships this week. In 2016, there was just one swimmer on the team. Now the Wildcats have a total of five competing this weekend in Federal Way. From left to right: Sabrina Joner, Rebekah Skufca, Bryanna Ungs, Hailey Grotte, and Riley Bingham. Photo courtesy La Center athletics

Oh, sure, La Center has a swimming team. This is the fourth year, in fact. But the first year, it was just Grotte.

Then it was Grotte and Ungs.

A year ago, the two shined at state — Grotte finished second in her two events and Ungs was second and third.

Still, they knew then that this year had a chance to truly make the La Center swim team a team. Two incoming freshmen, talented freshmen, were joining the squad.

This weekend in Federal Way, the La Center swim team will have two relays at state.

“Having a relay team my final year, it’s amazing,” Grotte said. “That’s what I’ve always wanted.”

Now, it is a reality. Riley Bingham and Sabrina Joner will compete with Grotte and Ungs. 

Oh, and there is a fifth swimmer from La Center, too. Rebekah Skufca is competing in the adaptive race on Saturday. Skufca also will singing the national anthem prior to the preliminary races Friday.

While Grotte and Ungs have opportunities to win individual state titles this week, it is the relay team that has made this season special. 

Here is how the team materialized, what the athletes do in their roles, and how they made it to state.

“My dad works at the middle school,” Grotte said with a laugh.

Grotte and Ungs used that to their advantage in hoping to draw new athletes.

“I was in his class sixth grade,” Bingham said. “I told him I swam a couple years ago. He said, ‘Great you can be on the high school swim team.’” 

“He pretty much did the same thing to me,” Joner added.

“It’s always been Hailey’s goal. ‘My senior year, I finally want a relay. I finally want a relay,’” Ungs said. “When summer came along, we saw the roster, and saw two freshmen there … that was pretty dope. We just had to keep them on the tam.

“We couldn’t scare them away,” Grotte said.

The Wildcats will be competing in the 200 freestyle relay and 400 relay at state. Ungs, Joner, Bingham and Grotte are the lineup for the 200. 

“My goal is to just get the lead, to get the start,” Ungs said. “The girls can keep it and Hailey can finish it.”

As soon as Ungs finishes her leg, she turns into a fan.

“I cheer like nobody’s business,” she said. “I scream so loud. My throat starts to hurt.”

Joner takes over from Ungs.

“I try to block out the nerves and think about how to dive without hitting Bryanna. That’s the most important part,” Joner said. 

“Just keep on going and do the best flip I can at the wall and just go, go go,” she said. 

Joner then joins Ungs in the screaming department.

Next up is Bingham.

“Keep it fast and make it so Hailey doesn’t have to pass six people to win,” she said.

That is an inside joke. The Wildcats were in sixth place when Grotte got in the pool last week in the race to make it to state. They had to finish third. Grotte got it done, passing three swimmers in 50 meters.

“Just get out of the water and scream,” Bingham said of her final responsibility.

Next is Grotte.

“I’m screaming for them. My adrenaline is definitely going. I’m planning in my head about how I need to swim in order to get my team where they need to be.”

Where they needed to be was state.

“Oh my God, we did it. We placed third. We’re going to state. Excitement was everywhere. Emotions were all over the place,” Ungs said.

“I could hear my mom screaming from the other end of the pool,” Bingham said. 

“I had faith in us,” Grotte said. 

Joner opens the 400 relay with Ungs at No. 2, followed by Bingham and Grotte.

The Wildcats are not putting pressure on themselves in the relays. They are thrilled to be a team, going to state.

As far as individual events, Grotte has the top qualifying times in the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle. Grotte, who signed with Washington State this week, would love to end her career with a state title.

Ungs has the best qualifying time in the 100 breastroke. She is also one of the top qualifiers in the 200 individual medley.

Here is a list of all Clark County swimmers who have qualified for state this week in Federal Way. For results this weekend, go to the WIAA’s tournament central page for swimming: http://wiaa.com/subcontent.aspx?SecID=1161

Class 4A

CAMAS

Paeton Lesser 200 IM, 100 freestyle

Campbell Deringer 200 IM, 100 breaststroke

Ashlyn Burgener 50 freestyle

Irelyn McGee diving

Shaelyne McGee diving

Mia Kemenko 100 backstroke

200 medley relay

200 freestyle relay

400 freestyle relay

SKYVIEW

400 freestyle relay

UNION

Jean Lin 200 IM

Annette Chang 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle

Abby Crowson 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke

Avery Gunderson 100 breastroke

200 medley relay

200 freestyle relay

Class 3A

EVERGREEN

Kelsi Flint 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle

MOUNTAIN VIEW

Emily Ipe 200 freestyle

Samantha Foster 200 IM, 100 breaststroke

Madison Wick 50 freestyle, 500 freestyle

Shu-Ting Jones 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke

Amy Ipe 100 breaststroke

200 medley relay

200 freestyle relay

400 freestyle relay

PRAIRIE

Faith Bradford 200 IM

Savannah Perkins 100 freestyle

Brooke Coen, 500 freestyle

Ella Limberg 100 breaststroke

200 medley relay

200 freestyle relay

400 freestyle relay

Class 2A/1A

LA CENTER

Bryanna Ungs 200 IM, 100 breaststroke

Hailey Grotte 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle

200 freestyle relay

400 freestyle relay

WASHOUGAL

Kaylyn Schmid 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle

Charlotte Baker 100 freestyle, 100 backstroke

Lily Seitz 500 freestyle

200 medley relay

200 freestyle relay

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