#Smiles: Lady Tigers win conference swim meet in nail-biter
By Susan Gray Gose
Nothing looked certain about the Lander Valley High girls swimming and diving team’s victory at the 3A-West Conference meet in Lander over the weekend. Throughout the finals on Saturday, the Tigers languished in second or third behind strong teams from Lyman and Powell. It wasn’t until the last event, the 400-yard freestyle relay, that Lander pulled ahead. Lander won that race in 3:56 with Powell second in 3:59, and Lyman a distant fifth in 4:14. Lander ended the meet with 247 points to Lyman’s 235 and Powell’s 230.
“We knew it was going to be a close meet,” said Head Coach Shawna Morgan. “Powell was missing their best swimmer, and they still did awesome. Lyman has some studs who all swam amazing this weekend, too. I’m super proud of the girls for stepping up and swimming their hearts out.”
The Tigers faced an uphill battle from the start. They were not rested, since their workouts are geared toward the state meet Nov. 2-3. They were not shaved down or wearing their fast technical suits. The competition, on the other hand, showed up in their fast suits, rested, and eager to take down the reigning champions. This is the third straight year that LVHS has won conference.
Lander had to dig deep to fend off the competition. But dig they did. Senior foreign exchange student Anastasia Cornale pulled off two wins for the Tigers in the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly in tight races. The only other Lander win was the 400-yard freestyle relay team of junior Olivia Fowler, junior Lily Gose, freshman Ashlon Koch, and Cornale.
Senior McKenzie Lilygren fought hard, taking second in both the 200-yard IM and 100-yard breaststroke in season best times that put her in the top of the state rankings. Lilygren also swam the breaststroke on the 200-yard medley relay that took second to Lyman’s squad, along with Fowler (backstroke), Cornale (fly), and senior Molly Fehringer on freestyle.
Koch toughed it out in the 100-yard freestyle for third place, and junior Leah Brown swam her fastest time of the season to take third in the 100-yard backstroke. Sophomore Kristen McPherson took fifth in that event. In the 200-yard freestyle, Fowler gutted it out for fourth. She and Gose had to settle for fourth and fifth in the 500-yard freestyle behind three Powell swimmers.
Diver Lillian Chandler, a senior, pulled off her best set of dives at the best possible time, placing seventh for the Tigers.
“Lillian had an amazing second day moving up two places with her final three dives,” said Morgan. “It’s hard to believe she’s only been diving for six weeks.”
Lander diving coach Faith Hamilton was honored as the 3A West Assistant Coach of the Year at the meet for her efforts. Cornale was named the 3A West swimmer of the year for her exceptional performances.
What ensured the Tigers’ win was not only the podium finishes but the efforts by every Tiger who fought fatigue and the tough competition to grab spots in the point-scoring top-12. Koch took sixth in the 100-yard breaststroke, Gose swam to seventh in the 200-yard IM, junior McKella Stigers touched ninth in the breaststroke, junior Makayla McPherson placed eighth in the butterfly and 10th in the 500 free, senior Noelle Harris scored 10th in the butterfly and 12th in the 200-yard freestyle, and Fehringer sprinted to 11th in the 50-yard freestyle. The 200-yard freestyle relay team of Lilygren, Koch, Fehringer, and sophomore Anja Harms placed fourth. The Powell squad, which had touched second in that relay, was disqualified for a false start, losing crucial points for their team.
The Tigers host their final meet, the Last Chance meet, at the Lander pool at 4 p.m. this Thursday. After that, they travel to Laramie to face the best in 3A swimming on Nov. 2 (prelims) and Nov. 3 (finals). Helping the Tigers will be sophomore Sierra Firth, who qualified in the 500-yard freestyle during conference prelims on Friday.
“We’ve got a couple of weeks left, so we have to keep working hard,” said Morgan. “State is going to be extremely close, and it’s all going to come down to who wants it more.”
Morgan added: “Thanks to all the parents, Lander Swim Club members, and LVHS administrators for all their help this weekend putting the meet on. There is a lot that goes into hosting conference and it couldn’t be done without all of you.”
FINALS RESULTS: 3A West Conference Championships, Oct. 19-20, 2018
Team Scores: 1. Lander 247, 2. Lyman 235, 3. Powell 230, 4. Jackson 183, 5. Sublette 159, 6. Riverton 109, 7. Kemmerer 86
200 Yard Medley Relay: 1. Lyman ‘A’ (H. Hewitt, B. Busskohl, B. Busskohl, S. Weston) 1:55.23, 2. Lander ‘A’ (O. Fowler, M. Lilygren, A. Cornale, M. Fehringer) 1:57.13
200 Yard Freestyle: 1. Josie Dike RIV 2:07.70, 4. Olivia Fowler LAN 2:09.94, 12. Noelle Harris LAN 2:24.88
200 Yard IM: 1. Brynlee Busskohl LYM 2:22.63, 2. McKenzie Lilygren LAN 2:24.76, 7. Lily Gose LAN 2:35.29, 12. Kristen McPherson LAN 2:46.45
50 Yard Freestyle: 1. Anastasia Cornale LAN 25.49, 11. Molly Fehringer LAN 27.93 (2nd Alternate Anja Harms LAN 28.29)
1-meter Diving: 1. Elizabeth Pierson RIV 305.40, 7. Lillian Chandler LAN 242.85
100 Yard Butterfly: 1. Anastasia Cornale LAN 1:01.39 , 8. Makayla McPherson LAN 1:10.22, 10. Noelle Harris LAN 1:11.01 (2nd Alternate Li Platz 1:15.18)
100 Yard Freestyle: 1. Josie Dike RIV 57.37, 3. Ashlon Koch LAN 59.14 (2nd alternate Leah Brown 1:02.15)
500 Yard Freestyle: 1. Elizabeth Liggett POW 5:46.66, 4. Olivia Fowler LAN 6:00.22, 5. Lily Gose LAN 6:12.83, 10. Makayla McPherson LAN 6:23.43 (1st alternate Sierra Firth LAN 6:36.30)
200 Yard Freestyle Relay: 1. Lyman ‘A’ (B. Busskohl, S. Weston, H. Hewitt, B. Busskohl) 1:46.37, 4. Lander ‘A’ (M. Lilygren, A. Harms, A. Koch, M. Fehringer) 1:49.93
100 Yard Backstroke: 1. Harper Hewitt LYM 1:05.64, 3. Leah Brown LAN 1:08.78, 5. Kristen McPherson LAN 1:11.66, 12. Li Platz LAN 1:18.78
100 Yard Breaststroke: 1. Brynlee Busskohl 1:10.73, 2. McKenzie Lilygren LAN 1:11.81, 6. Ashlon Koch 1:16.43, 9. McKella Stigers LAN 1:20.12 , (2nd alternate Jenny Bautz LAN 1:24.64)
400 Yard Freestyle Relay: 1. Lander (O. Fowler, L. Gose, A. Koch, A. Cornale) 3:56.18