It’s the nature of the sport in the region that a high school diver in the South Sound faces a two-hour round trip daily to practice the craft.
CeCe Pennella, a Black Hills High School junior, has put in the time — in the car and on the diving board — and on Saturday won a district title, and broke her own school and meet records, at the Class 2A Southwest District IV swimming and diving championships at The Evergreen State College.
She will dive at the 2A state championship meet at the King County Aquatic Club in Federal Way next week — the site of her diving workouts.
You have to go where the diving coaches are, and for Pennella, that means KCAC.
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“It’s awesome dedication,” said Henry Valz, Pennella’s coach. “She’s primed and ready for a big state run.”
No one was able to topple Aberdeen and Columbia River in the team competition Saturday, but there were records set and goals achieved by local athletes.
Aberdeen, with strength in numbers, topped the 11-school field, while Columbia River, with most of the meet’s top individual swimmers, was a strong second.
Tumwater finished third as a team, and will send two individuals — diver Claire Barnard and swimmer Hope Roethke — to state, along with two relay teams.
Black Hills, a close fourth behind its cross-town rivals, will, along with Pennella, advance one individual swimmer — freshman Emma Prybylski — along with one relay and possibly a second.
Pennella compiled 407.30 points in judges’ scoring for 11 dives, which bettered her district record of 403.85, set last year. Barnard, a sophomore, was second with 348 points.
Pennella said she’s worked especially hard in her club workouts on the front double somersault, the front full twist and the back one-and-a-half.
“They all felt pretty solid,” she said. “I feel pretty confident. I have to work this week to get everything where I want it.”
Prybylski broke her own record in the 50-yard freestyle with her second-place time of 26.53 seconds. She claimed second in the 100 backstroke (1:05.52) and swam on the Wolves’ third-place, state-bound 200 relay along with junior Leah Rietema and sophomores Brielle Bryan and Kalli Bishop.
Valz said the Wolves’ fourth-place 400 free relay (Bryan, Josie Krysinski, Rietema and Prybylski) might get a nod to state as a wild-card entry.
Roethke, a Tumwater junior, finished third in the 200 free (2:12.99) to punch a ticket to state, and she, along with freshman Delaney Boe and juniors Hannah McLeod and Kali Teal, swam on two state-bound relays — the 200 free relay (second in 1:50.9) and the 400 free relay (third in 4:09.21).
Tumwater coach Laurel Smith was delighted with the T-Birds’ third-place team finish — she graduated 12 seniors off last year’s team.
“At the beginning of the season, I honestly didn’t think we’d be able to do that,” she said.
Aberdeen had the most bodies at the meet — 30 — and was the clear-cut team champion with 578.5 points. Columbia River had district champions in nine of the 12 events to finish second with 372 points.
Tumwater was third with 258, Black Hills had 250, Mark Morris 175, W.F. West 118.5, R.A. Long 63, Washougal 60, Hockinson 44, LaCenter 34 and Centralia 12.
Prairie 3, Yelm 0: Aimee Kurfurst had a hat trick to eliminate the Tornados (11-5-2) from the playoffs in a 3A West Central/Southwest bidistrict tournament game at McKenzie Stadium in Vancouver.
Kurfurst’s first goal came in the 25th minute , and she fired off a series of shots in the second half and scored twice in the final 10 minutes.
Elma 2, Seton Catholic 0: The Eagles advanced to the 1A state playoffs for the first time since 2014 after Jillian Bieker and Brooke Sutherby scored in the second half in a 1A Southwest District tournament game at King’s Way Christian in Vancouver.
Elma (13-5) will play La Salle (15-3-1) in the first round at 6 p.m. Tuesday.