Lander boys take conference, qualify 24 athletes for state meet

(Lander, WY) – Dozens and dozens of championships, a whole lot of individual conference and state record holders, multiple all-Americans: for Lander Valley High School boys swimming and diving, few milestones remain.

But there is one, or rather, there was one.


At last Friday’s pre-conference dual in Green River, Aiden Whelan swam the 100 yard backstroke in 1:07.74, good enough for fifth place. That time was also good enough to qualify the freshman for state.

h/t Chase McFadden – (L-R) Aiden Whelan, Hezekiah Dolence, Sonny Robinson and Noah Larson on the blocks.

Whelan became Tiger number 24 to earn his spot at the 3A state meet. Twenty-four Tigers total comprise this season’s squad. Qualifying every swimmer and diver — a first for a program intent on capturing its 25th consecutive title ten days from now — is a remarkable feat.

“I think the best part of last weekend was getting Aiden qualified for state,” head coach Shawna Morgan says. “One hundred percent of your team qualifying — with two dozen athletes and only two seniors — is not easy to do. As far as I know, it is the first time it has happened for LVHS.”

h/t Chase McFadden – Coaches Shawna Morgan and Tim Hester talk with Nolan McFadden after the 50 freestyle.

After celebrating Whelan’s accomplishment in Green River, the Tigers returned to Lander for Saturday’s 3A West Conference meet. LVHS handily outdistanced the field, setting three conference records along the way.

The meet was actually a two-town affair. Lander, Powell and Riverton competed at the Bruce Gresly Aquatic Center, while Lyman hosted Green River, Kemmerer and Sublette County. Times from the two sites were then combined.

Morgan says the set up was necessary with COVID precautions, but certainly not preferred. “Having conference split into two locations is not ideal when it comes to peak competition. You aren’t right next to someone with a similar time who can help you go faster.”

h/t Chase McFadden – (L-R) Justin Whelan, Brayden Brown and Brennen Blackburn ready for the start of the 100 butterfly.

Also, the conference meet typically takes place over two days, with prelims contested on day one and finals on day two, a format identical to the state meet. The Friday dual with Green River was an attempt to replicate that schedule in some way. “We still tried to make it as much like state as we could,” Morgan explains, “swimming the same events two days in a row so the boys could get used to that kind of format.”

Jonny Kulow — who has verbally committed to compete for Arizona State University after high school — led the charge at the conference meet. The junior broke 3A West records in both the 200 and 500 freestyle and was also a fourth of the record-breaking 400 free relay crew along with Tigers Brennen Blackburn, Dylan Huelskamp and Nolan McFadden. Freshmen Benny Kulow and Reed McFadden teamed with junior brothers Jonny and Nolan to kick the meet off with a victory in the 200 medley relay.

h/t Chase McFadden – Coach Shawna Morgan and juniors Nolan McFadden and Jonny Kulow cheer on Tiger Sonny Robinson in the 200 freestyle.

Huelskamp was Lander’s other individual event winner. The sophomore won the 100 yard butterfly.

Having completed their toughest day of training last Wednesday — “Peak Night” — the Tigers now taper towards state, which will be held in Laramie on February 19 and 20. “I look forward to the next two weeks, defining our technique and working on maximum speed,” Morgan says.

“We will also be concentrating on our visualization and positive mindset through these last few practices,” she adds, “restating our individual and team goals at the start of each so we are concentrating throughout the workouts.”

h/t Chase McFadden – Senior Colton Wietzki.

LVHS will compete at Thursday’s last-chance qualifier in Riverton prior to the state meet.

h/t Chase McFadden for sharing the above information, the following results as well as photos.

Lander vs. Green RiverFeb. 5, 2021

200 Yard Medley Relay: 1. Lander A (Nolan McFadden, Reed McFadden, Jonny Kulow, Benny Kulow) 1:44.65; 3. Lander B (Erick Harms, Ross Anderson, Ramsey Eckhardt, Hezekiah Dolence) 2:00.84

200 Yard Free: 1. Jonny Kulow 1:46.60; 3. Brayden Brown 2:03.50; 5. Justin Whelan 2:07.90; 6. Elijah Applegate 2:12.08; 11. Sonny Robinson 2:19.86; 12. Aiden Whelan 2:22.02

200 Yard IM: 1. Dylan Huelskamp 2:05.51; 4. Benny Kulow 2:12.25; 5. Ross Anderson 2:21.67; 6. Benaiah Dolence 2:25.10; 7. Ramsey Eckhardt 2:36.33

50 Yard Free: 1. Nolan McFadden 22.73; 4. Colton Wietzki 24.72; 6. Erick Harms 25.03; 7. Scott Logan 25.49

1 Meter Diving: 2. Noah Larson 381.10; 5. Logan Wietzki 312.60; 8. Luke Morneau 245.45

100 Yard Butterfly: 1. Dylan Huelskamp 58.55; 2. Nolan McFadden 58.76; 3. Reed McFadden 1:00.12

100 Yard Free: 2. Brennen Blackburn 50.60; 3. Colton Wietzki 53.47; 4. Benaiah Dolence 53.51; 6. Justin Whelan 57.63

500 Yard Free: 1. Jonny Kulow 5:03.07; 3. Brayden Brown 5:27.51; 5. Elijah Applegate 6:03.94; 7. Sonny Robinson 6:23.84; 8. Hezekiah Dolence 6:24.15

200 Yard Free Relay: 1. Lander A (Dylan Huelskamp, Benaiah Dolence, Colton Wietzki, Brennen Blackburn) 1:35.97; 3. Lander B (Scott Logan, Justin Whelan, Noah Larson, Reed McFadden) 1:45.09

100 Yard Back: 1. Brennen Blackburn 1:02.19; 2. Erick Harms 1:02.91; 5. Aiden Whelan 1:07.74; 6. Noah Larson 1:08.54; 7. Hezekiah Dolence 1:08.70; 8. Ramsey Eckhardt 1:13.56

100 Yard Breast: 2. Benny Kulow 1:06.16; 3. Reed McFadden 1:06.42; 5. Ross Anderson 1:10.71; 7. Scott Logan 1:11.72

400 Yard Free Relay: 1. Lander A (Dylan Huelskamp, Brennen Blackburn, Nolan McFadden, Jonny Kulow) 3:26.43; 3. Lander B (Benaiah Dolence, Colton Wietzki, Brayden Brown, Benny Kulow) 3:47.42

h/t Chase McFadden – Junior Elijah Applegate swims the butterfly.

3A West Conference MeetFeb. 6, 2021

TEAM SCORES: 1. Lander 352, 2. Green River 291, 3. Lyman 171, 4. Powell 150, 5. Kemmerer 116, 6. Riverton 115, 7. Sublette County 110

200 Yard Medley Relay: 1. Lander A (Nolan McFadden, Reed McFadden, Jonny Kulow, Benny Kulow) 1:43.70

200 Yard Free: 1. Jonny Kulow 1:45.51 (conference record); 4. Brayden Brown 1:55.92; 7. Justin Whelan 2:06.34; 17. Elijah Applegate 2:14.79; 18. Sonny Robinson 2:15.03; 25. Aiden Whelan 2:23.88

200 Yard IM: 2. Dylan Huelskamp 2:04.52; 5. Benny Kulow 2:11.87; 10. Ross Anderson 2:27.42; 11. Benaiah Dolence 2:28.74

50 Yard Free: 3. Nolan McFadden 22.87; 8. Colton Wietzki 24.49; 10. Erick Harms 24.97; 12. Scott Logan 25.77

1 Meter Diving: 2. Noah Larson 372.25; 4. Logan Wietzki 293.55; 11. Luke Morneau 228.00

100 Yard Butterfly: 1. Dylan Huelskamp 56.17; 3. Nolan McFadden 59.30; 5. Reed McFadden 59.41

100 Yard Free: 3. Brennen Blackburn 50.63; 7. Colton Wietzki 53.52; 9. Benaiah Dolence 54.79; 12. Justin Whelan 56.80

500 Yard Free: 1. Jonny Kulow 5:02.25 (conference record); 3. Brayden Brown 5:13.19; 8. Hezekiah Dolence 6:10.58; 9. Elijah Applegate 6:10.84; 13. Sonny Robinson 6:20.17

200 Yard Free Relay: 2. Lander A (Dylan Huelskamp, Benaiah Dolence, Colton Wietzki, Brennen Blackburn) 1:35.99

100 Yard Back: 2. Brennen Blackburn 58.26; 5. Erick Harms 1:01.96; 10. Noah Larson 1:08.60; 11. Hezekiah Dolence 1:09.21; 12. Aiden Whelan 1:11.54; 14. Ramsey Eckardt 1:12.92

100 Yard Breast: 4. Reed McFadden 1:05.27; 6. Benny Kulow 1:08.50; 10. Scott Logan 1:11.14; 11. Ross Anderson 1:12.06

400 Yard Free Relay: 1. Lander A (Dylan Huelskamp, Brennen Blackburn, Nolan McFadden, Jonny Kulow) 3:22.37 (conference record); 4. Lander B (Benaiah Dolence, Colton Wietzki, Brayden Brown, Benny Kulow) 3:37.95

h/t Chase McFadden – Erick Harms reacts after looking to the scoreboard.

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