Class 4A jumps in the pool to open the 2018 Wyoming State High School Girls Swimming and Diving Championships on Thursday in Laramie. The hosting Plainsmen look to repeat among a swarm of competition.
Laramie is led by junior Olivia McPherson, who helped her team win its first state championship since 2001 last season. She is expected to compete in the 100 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 200 freestyle relay and the 400 freestyle relay. She won all four events at the Class 4A West Conference meet two weeks ago.
Sage Morton, Catie Weathermon, Ana Roesler, Katie McPherson and Carter Burchi also give the Plainsmen gold-medal threats.
Green River, Cheyenne Central and Sheridan remain threats to Laramie’s hopes of a repeat in Class 4A.
The Green River 200 medley relay team (Lauren Jensen, Hailey Uhrig, Lauren lee and Ashley Jensen) beat Laramie’s at the conference meet and Green River’s Sydni Sanders won the individual 200 freestyle. Lee could also win the 100 butterfly at state, coming in just under a second behind Roesler at conference.
Porscha Cavanaugh gives Central its power, finishing with the best time in the 50 freestyle among times at both 4A Conference meets. The Tribe also has its 400 free relay team (McKenna Hauber, Allison Granat, Grace Bydlon and Berkely Christensen) as well as diver Emma Reed.
Sheridan returns a collection of talented swimmers including Piper Carroll, Jenny Holwell, Taylor Baldacci, Zoe Robison and Jadyn Mullikin. Together, they provide depth to both individual and relay events.
Natrona County diver Gabriella Haigler enters as a strong contender for gold from the board.
While Class 4A finals begin on Friday, Class 3A will follow with its prelims. Lander retained its team championship last year and seeks a third consecutive title this season.
Two-time all-state selection Olivia Fowler leads the Tigers into the weekend. Fowler, who only earned gold as part of the 400 free relay team at the 3A West Conference meet, is expected to swim in that as well as the 200 medley relay, 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle. Lily Gose, Ashlon Koch, Anastasia Cornale, McKenzie Lilygren and Leah Brown give the Tigers incredible depth. Cornale won the conference meet in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly.
But it’s not a certainty that Lander is the favorite. After all, Lyman narrowly missed winning the conference meet and Powell finished just five points behind Lyman.
Lyman’s Brynlee Busskohl earned individual gold at conference in two events in addition to swimming on the winning 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle relay teams. Harper Hewitt won the 100 backstroke for Lyman at the West Conference meet as well. Hewitt swam with Busskohl on both those winning relay teams along with Brooklyn Busskohl and Samantha Weston.
Powell’s Elizabeth Liggett and Riverton’s Josie Dike remain gold medal contenders at the individual level, as well.
Then there’s Buffalo, which stormed through its East Conference competition. The Bison won all three relays — mainly from Quynn Kennedy, Makenna Lambert, Luci Riddle, Maddi Johnson, Grace Wagner, Macy Johnson and Emi Wagner — and four individual events at the Douglas Invite just a month ago.
Worland’s Juli Warren and Douglas’ Sheridan Mathis also enter with momentum and the opportunity at individual gold.
Class 3A’s finals are scheduled to begin on Saturday morning in Laramie.