fbpx
Favorites

© 2022 BVM Sports. Best Version Media, LLC.

Favorites

Lander Valley boys swimming on remarkable run with 24 straight state titles

Lander Valley boys swimming on remarkable run with 24 straight state titles
Lander Valley High School has won 24 consecutive state boys swimming championships. (Photo: Ellen Brinda)

LANDER, Wyo. (BVM) — A lot of high school athletic programs have a tradition of success, but not many have dominated their sport for nearly two and a half decades the way Lander Valley boys swimming has.

The Tigers claimed their 24th consecutive boys state championship this past February, continuing a remarkable run that began in 1997 under the leadership of longtime head coach Bruce Gresley, who founded the program and guided Lander to 19 straight state titles before passing away in 2015.

“He was phenomenal,” said Lander head coach Shawna Morgan, who coached with Gresley for 11 years. “I just kind of continue with his tradition. They were very big shoes to fill and I’m trying to the best I can.”

Morgan said it was important to Gresley for both his girls and boys programs to have a family-like feel, and he used that as an important part of his foundation for building Lander into what it has become.

“He always believed in it being a family-type atmosphere and he believed that it was a program for any kid no matter their background,” Morgan said. “You have to get kids interested at a young age and he always said if you can get parents really involved in your swimming programs, then you’re gonna have an awesome program.”

The Tigers have been the best in the state for a long time despite being in a town of only 7,000 people. Morgan said it starts with Lander’s club program, which has grown to 120 kids.

“That’s one of the biggest clubs in the state of Wyoming and we’re not even close to being one of the biggest towns,” Morgan said. “I think starting them young and getting them excited about the sport of swimming helps but not only that, every kid in Lander wants to learn how to swim because of the strength of our high school program.”

State titles have become routine for Lander, so much so that the community has come to expect a celebration every year. But the Tigers have a new team every year, and each one feels the pressure to add to the streak, and no team wants to be the one to see it end.

“Lander itself is like, ‘oh we’re ready for your parade when you come back’ and they’re already making championship banners,” said Morgan, who has also coached the Lander girls team to four straight state titles. “I even have to tell the town like these boys are trying to accomplish something that is really, really stressful, so they know this is out there and they know all of these people are watching them so it can get a little stressful.”

The pressure hasn’t gotten to the Tigers enough for anyone to come close to dethroning them, however. The past two seasons they’ve been especially dominant in Class 3A, so much so that Morgan believes they could’ve won 4A.

Lander also achieved a program-first in 2019 when Jonny Kulow, Ryan Brinda, Nick Kulow and Caleb Huelskamp became the Tigers’ first All-American swimmers with their times in the 400 free and 200 medley relays. Huelskamp, a 2019 graduate, also earned All-American honors with his time in the 100 breaststroke. Jonny Kulow, a sophomore who’s being recruited by several Division I programs, was also an All-American this past season.

Morgan believes finding motivation in other goals within the ultimate team championship goal each season has also been key to the continued run of success. This year, that challenge was to qualify all 25 swimmers for state, and Lander nearly reached that goal with 22 qualifiers.

“We came really, really close and it was a bummer and because a few of them were really close (to making it),” Morgan said. “But it’s important to set different challenges like that just. I don’t want them to ever get complacent.”

Get local sports news direct to your inbox

Originals

more
Top PG Robert Dillingham chooses Kentucky

Top PG Robert Dillingham chooses Kentucky

The latest prep prospect to change his collegiate destination is Robert Dillingham, who committed to…

Noah LaFine proving upside as Vanderbilt baseball commit

Noah LaFine proving upside as Vanderbilt baseball commit

Noah LaFine committed to Vanderbilt and won a state championship at Archbishop Hoban as just…

Ranking the Big Ten football coaches going into 2022

Ranking the Big Ten football coaches going into 2022

Who are the best football coaches in the Big Ten?

Carson Pickett’s historical USWNT debut with a limb difference

Carson Pickett’s historical USWNT debut with a limb difference

Carson Pickett makes history as the first player to play for the USWNT with a…

Sean Stewart brings family pedigree to Duke

Sean Stewart brings family pedigree to Duke

Sean Stewart will get the opportunity to suit up for the Blue Devils.

Giannis, Thanasis Antetokounmpo portrayed by Agada brothers in ‘Rise’

Giannis, Thanasis Antetokounmpo portrayed by Agada brothers in ‘Rise’

Disney’s ‘Rise’ tells the story of Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokoumnpo’s path to the NBA…

Mike Grier to become first Black NHL general manager

Mike Grier to become first Black NHL general manager

Mike Grier is set to add to that history as he becomes the first Black…

Jace Arnold joins Badgers as highest-rated 2023 recruit

Jace Arnold joins Badgers as highest-rated 2023 recruit

Jace Arnold is the highest-rated football recruit to commit to the Wisconsin Badgers.

A look back at the 2020 Tampa Bay Rays

A look back at the 2020 Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays came into the 2020 season with high expectations for themselves and…

Notre Dame commit David Lally looking toward MLB future

Notre Dame commit David Lally looking toward MLB future

David Lally had a tremendous career at Grand Blanc that included a state title and…

Louisville commit Zion Rose concludes special junior season

Louisville commit Zion Rose concludes special junior season

Zion Rose is one of the top Class of 2023 players in Illinois and one…

Eric Brown’s journey from 0 offers to 2022 MLB Draft prospect

Eric Brown’s journey from 0 offers to 2022 MLB Draft prospect

Eric Brown put his faith in God and now he is a potential first-round MLB…

Mitchell Robinson back with New York Knicks: Instant reaction

Mitchell Robinson back with New York Knicks: Instant reaction

Mitchell Robinson is back with the Knicks after agreeing to a new contract. Here is…

Mark Johnson looks to climb the mountain again with Wisconsin

Mark Johnson looks to climb the mountain again with Wisconsin

Mark Johnson will look to add to his historic resume in his 20th season as…

Ryan Niblett ready to bring track speed to Texas football

Ryan Niblett ready to bring track speed to Texas football

Texas Longhorns’ four-star WR commit Ryan Niblett will team up in Austin with No. 1-ranked…

Future Badger Paytn Monticelli now a two-time Gatorade POY

Future Badger Paytn Monticelli now a two-time Gatorade POY

Two-time Gatorade Wisconsin Softball Player of the Year Paytn Monticelli is continuing her career with…

Bobby Portis returning to Bucks on four-year, $49 million deal

Bobby Portis returning to Bucks on four-year, $49 million deal

After being an integral part of the Bucks’ championship run in 2021 and having a…

Kevin Durant requests trade from Nets; Which team lands KD?

Kevin Durant requests trade from Nets; Which team lands KD?

Kevin Durant has requested out of Brooklyn to set up one of the biggest trades…

Jalen Brunson to the New York Knicks: Instant reaction

Jalen Brunson to the New York Knicks: Instant reaction

Jalen Brunson is finally a Knick. Here is everything you need to know:

Nick Van Exel is perfect for Trae Young, Dejounte Murray

Nick Van Exel is perfect for Trae Young, Dejounte Murray

Nick Van Exel, a fan favorite point guard from his time in the NBA and…