The boys got back in the pool with the first allowable practices that were held on Nov. 27 to begin preparations for this season, which will begin this weekend with the opening meets.
Reigning back-to-back champions Gillette will be in danger of getting knocked of the boys swimming pedestal due to the split of swimmers with Thunder Basin. It’s uncertain how that divide among boys swimmers will go, but the lineups for both teams will be interesting after seeing how the fall sports were divided.
The Camels won last year’s Class 4A state championship with nearly a 100 point cushion between them and second-place Laramie.
Considering the swimming culture in Gillette and the community aquatic center where the championship meet is held, the gold this year could come down to a dual between Thunder Basin and reigning Camels. Returning swimmers who should make an impact regardless of which team they swim for include: Gunnar Poley, Ty Conklin, Landon Hoffman, Tyler Williams and Corben Vaughn.
Young swimmers will return in Class 4A to highlight an exciting field.
Darwin Anderson of Rock Springs won the 200 freestyle last year with a 4-second margin of victory, as well as an 8-second win in the 500 freestyle as a freshman, and will likely be the favorite to repeat. Green River’s Michael Richmond in the 100 butterfly and 200 IM is the only other returning state champion not swimming in Gillette.
Among other potential impact swimmers there is Kelly Walsh sophomore Kellen Chadderdon, who took second in the 100 butterfly at last year’s state meet. Sheridan’s Oscar Patten (100 freestyle), Cheyenne East’s Jackson Mugg (200 IM, 500 freestyle) and Green River’s Ethan Moffatt (100 breaststroke) are other returning second-place finishers.
Meanwhile, in Class 3A, it appears to be Lander’s championship to lose yet again. The Tigers have won 23 consecutive state swimming championships and show no signs of slowing as the successful underclassmen return with another year of experience.
Standout junior Caleb Huelskamp joins sophomores Nick Kulow and Ryan Brinda as the top three returning Tigers. All three were on last year’s winning 200 medley relay team, Huelskamp and Kulow were both on the winning 400 freestyle relay team and they won a combined four individual championships.
There were, however, three swimming events in addition to the 1-meter diving that Lander did not win. Of those events, just one champion returns this season.
Lyman’s Cooper Haycock is the reigning 100 backstroke champion. Haycock also finished second in the 50 freestyle at last year’s state meet and currently holds the best time in that event among returning swimmers.
A new diving champion will be crowned and the prospective favorite is Powell’s Hudson Wilkerson. Wilkerson was second as a junior last year (399.05) and the other three divers to score over a 300 were all seniors.
Class 4A will get underway on Friday with the Gillette Relays that precede the Gillette Pentathlon. Class 3A convenes on Rawlins for the Rawlins Pentathlon on Saturday.