Since 1997, only one team has stood atop the podium at the conclusion of the Wyoming State High School Class 3A Swimming & Diving Championships: Lander. And the Tigers are overwhelming favorites to make it 25 in a row when the 3A state meet begins Friday in Laramie.
The primary reason Lander is once again favored to win gold is junior Jonny Kulow, who has already committed to Arizona State. Kulow enters the state meet with the fastest times in seven of the eight swimming events -- Powell junior Nate Johnson has the best mark in the 100 breaststroke -- and swims on all three of the Tigers' top-ranked relay teams.
Kulow also has the fastest times in the state regardless of classification in six events -- 50 freestyle, 100 free, 200 free, 500 free, 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley. He holds 3A state records in the 200 IM (1 minute, 54.55 seconds in 2019), 100 free (44.69 in last year's state prelims) and 100 backstroke (50.08 in last year's finals). In addition, Kulow swam on two state record-setting relay teams -- 200 medley and 400 free -- as a freshman and teamed with sophomore Dylan Huelskamp and juniors Nolan McFadden and Brennen Blackburn to set a new standard in the 200 free relay earlier this year with a time of 1:25.75.
The swimswam.com website lists Kulow as one of its "Best of the Rest" freestyle sprinters for the Class of 2022 based on his times in the 50 free and 100 free.
The four-time individual state champ has plenty of support. Huelskamp is the defending state champ in the 200 IM and competes on both the 200 and 400 free relay teams. Brown is the defending state champ in the 500 free. And Blackburn and McFadden are both on the 200 and 400 free relay teams and have top-five times in multiple events.
While Johnston is the only non-Lander swimmer returning to defend his Class 3A state title, Green River's Jason Richmond is the defending 4A champ in the 200 IM. The Wolves are competing in 3A this season.
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