LANDER – Saturday marked one of the biggest and best swim invites of the entire year as Lander Valley High School (LVHS) hosted the annual Bruce Gresly Invite at the Bruce Gresly Aquatic Center. 

The meet brought teams in from Buffalo, Cheyenne South, Cody, Evanston, Green River, Jackson, Kemmerer, Lyman, Powell, Rawlins, Riverton, Rock Springs, Sublette County and Worland. All these teams came together to try and put a dent in the Tigers’ perfect season and continual domination of the sport of boys’ swimming; unsurprisingly they would fail for the most part. 

It all started with a 200-yard medley relay win for Lander as Finn Richards, Reed McFadden, Dylan Huelskamp and Benny Kulow finished with a time of 1:39.52, just two seconds ahead of Buffalo’s A-team. After that Huelskamp and Brayden Brown would finish within three seconds of first place in the 200-yard freestyle, finishing extremely close to Green River’s Brady Young who came in first with a 4A state qualifying time of 1:48.98. 

Shortly after, Lander would regain control with McFadden’s blistering speed in the 200-yard individual medley race. McFadden’s 2:06.42 finish came just two seconds ahead of his teammate, Richards, who completed it in 2:08.35 which was two-tenths of a second ahead of a Cheyenne South swimmer. 

The 50-yard freestyle event brought a few older student-athlete swimmers out of the woodwork as Buffalo High School and Rock Springs finished in the top three spots with swimmers that were 18 or 19 years old. Lander’s Scott Logan would be the first Tiger to finish with a 23.94 second time, garnering an eighth-place finish. 

The Lander boys cheered on Reed McFadden in the 200 yard IM Saturday in Jackson. (p/c Carl Cote)

Huelskamp got the Tigers back into it with a victory in the 100-yard butterfly event, finishing with a 4A state qualifying time of 53.24 seconds, two better than the second-, third- and fourth-place finishers. Then, in a surprising move, Kulow was unable to finish in first in the 100-yard freestyle event, a race he has dominated in all year long, as Rock Springs’ John Spicer (48.88 seconds) came in first just three-hundredths of a second before Kulow (48.91 seconds). 

Brown, another strong swimmer for LVHS all season, then got second place in an event he has succeeded in all year long as well. The 500-yard freestyle race saw Brown finish with 4:59.42, still a strong 4A state qualifying time, but just three seconds behind Green River’s Young (4:56.07). 

LVHS would go on to finish in second or third place in the last four races: the 200-yard freestyle relay, 100-yard backstroke, the 100-yard breaststroke and 400-yard freestyle relay. But, in the end, it wouldn’t matter as the team point totals would show what many teams across Wyoming have known for two decades: that LVHS is the best boys’ swim team in the state (maybe even the country). 

Lander would end up winning with 291 team points, almost 60 more than Buffalo in second place with 224. Green River (133), Cody (118) and Rock Springs (110) would round out the top five with Riverton (82) grabbing sixth place after breaking their own school record in the 200-yard relay at their senior night last week. 

Up next for both Fremont County teams, the Riverton boys host Lander on Thursday night at the Riverton Aquatic Center at 4 p.m., just two days removed from the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams renewing the rivalry between the two schools that reside just 30 minutes away from each other. 

Good luck this Thursday and congratulations to all the swimmers who did so well this past weekend in Lander!

By: Shawn O’Brate