While the season-opening swim meet is still a few days away, and some noted standouts are spending this weekend unattached in Atlanta at the U.S. Open Swimming Championships, anxious limbs await the opening horn.
Defending champions, dynasties, underdogs and unknowns begin the season all the same. They start on the same wall and touch the same final wall. What happens between those moments is where greatness happens. Same goes for each revolution and rotation on the board.
So here’s a brief watch list of who’s primed to make an impression this winter.
Max DeYoung, Laramie: The owner of nine state swim championships returns for his senior season. He owns back-to-back IM and backstroke championships, as well as a leg on Laramie’s back-to-back gold-medal free relay team. The Wyoming signing’s showing he’s still got it at the U.S. Open Swim Championships in Atlanta this weekend.
Kellen Chadderdon, Kelly Walsh: He’s the only other returning individual 4A gold medalist after winning the 100 breast by nearly 5 seconds last year. The senior also swam on the Trojans’ winning 200 medley relay team last year. He could be the leader on a team of youthful promise.
Jason Richmond, Green River: Keep an eye out for this junior. He swam a successful sophomore season and, after living years in his brother’s (Michael) shadow, he’s ready to make his own run at gold. His best finish came in silver last year in the 200 IM to DeYoung.
Isaiah Haliburton, Thunder Basin: He’s the top returning diver in 4A and should be considered the favorite to earn gold in his sophomore season. Haliburton spent the fall as an elusive return man for the Bolts’ football team so he’s primed for the bright pool lights this winter.
Ian Pfaff, Kelly Walsh: One of the few seniors on Kelly Walsh’s projected roster this winter, he helped the Trojans to a 200-medley relay gold by swimming the anchor leg. He also picked up two silvers in last year’s state meet (50 and 100 free) to give him a solid base to work off.
You have free articles remaining.
Colton Drury, Laramie: He’s been the role player on the Plainsmen team while accruing modest podium finishes. This year could be his breakout. Pushed by a deep team roster and the urgency of his senior season, he may just earn some gold of his own.
Nick Allen, Cheyenne Central: This senior could be the dark horse contender in a loaded freestyle field. He scored bronze-medal finishes in the 50 and 100 freestyle at last year’s state meet with little separating him from gold. A strong regular season would put him in contention once again.
Nick Kulow, Lander: Already an 11-time state swimming gold medalist, he gets back into the pool for a final go-round. Along with two relay legs, he earned individual gold in the 200 and 500 freestyles last season, both by comfortable margins. The Tigers’ dominance has been because of swimmers like him.
Richard Spann, Powell: It’s a testament to his abilities that his gold-medal finish in the 100 back last year by beating two Lander Tigers wasn’t that much of an upset. He also took silver in the 200 IM last year. He’s another gold-medal contender in his senior season.
Jonny Kulow, Lander: Realistically, any watch list could include every Tiger swimmer, but this sophomore’s earned a right to stand on his own. He scored individual gold in the 100 free and 200 IM by at least 3 seconds each as a freshman and can somehow improve on that this winter.
Jackson Fouras, Sublette County: Here’s another sophomore with a lot of promise. He won multiple club state championships with Jackson before joining his high school team of Sublette County. His freshman season ended without gold in the 100 breast but it’d be a shocker if that happens again.
Dalton Coleman, Rawlins: The reigning East Conference champion who settled for bronze in the 200 free and 100 breast comes back for a junior season filled with potential. Swimming databases rank him No. 9 in Wyoming and he’s out to prove that this winter.
Zayne Cooper, Worland: He’s gone all 3 years without gold so far, coming as close as second in the 50 and 100 free last year. He also dipped his toes into the 50 back at times as a junior. This is it for a senior primed to make one last run at gold.
Seth Felbeck, Buffalo: The top five divers from last year all return this year. So it’ll take some special effort to come out of that pack victorious. Perhaps the Bison senior’s history of sprints and hurdles during the spring can build the separation needed to win this year.
Follow sports reporter Brady Oltmans on Twitter @BradyOltmans