Panthers swim to third at state


Seniors shine as school records fall in Gillette

The Powell High School swim team’s run of success continued even as its two-year reign as state runner-up ended.

The Panthers rearranged many of the names on the PHS Hall of Fame board and finished third at the Class 3A Swim and Dive Championships in Gillette over the weekend.

Lander won its 20th straight state title with 350 points and Lyman scored 175 points to edge the Panthers, who finished with 167.

“Even though we finished in the third spot, this has been one of the best meets we’ve had,” PHS head coach Stephanie Warren said. “We had just a bunch of great performances throughout that whole weekend, earning hall of fame places on the board for Powell High School.”

Seniors Seth Fuller, Josh Riedhammer and Brandon Anderson all entered the PHS record books, as did sophomore Kacey Creed.

Fuller swam the second-fastest 100-yard backstroke in PHS history with a time of 55.99, good for second place at state. His lead-off leg of the 400-yard free relay during Thursday’s preliminaries clocked in at 49.72, the third-best time in the 100-yard free by a Panther. Finally, Fuller’s third-place finish in the 200-yard IM (2:05.48) moved him into fourth all-time on the PHS board.

“He had some very high goals and I think he met most of them. He’s a worker,” PHS assistant coach Jerry Rodriguez said.

Warren recalled Fuller’s fascination with the hall of fame board when it was added to the Powell Aquatic Center his freshman year.

“I remember him asking as a freshman, ‘what is it, what is it for?’” Warren said. “Starting from the time he was a freshman, he was very motivated in trying to get to that spot.”

Fuller had a third straight second-place finish in mind as he entered his final high school competition, but was proud of the way he and his team performed in Gillette.

“We were kind of disappointed we didn’t get second place again, but everyone put in a lot of work this season and we had a lot of guys make it on the board, so it was really good,” Fuller said.

Riedhammer, Anderson and Creed all shared the spotlight in the 100-yard butterfly finals.

Riedhammer finished in third while reaching second in PHS history with a time of 55.70. 

“That was really something I was working for,” Riedhammer said. “Just swimming it at every meet, really focusing on it at practice, working on my technique.”

He was followed immediately by Anderson’s time of 57.34, which was good for fourth place both at state and in school history, and Creed, who took fifth at state with a time of 57.98.

Anderson made his mark on PHS swimming in his only season as a Panther after moving from Illinois during the summer.

“He really took it on as a challenge and became a real full-fledged member of the team,” Rodriguez said. “Getting on our hall of fame board, that was just something he had never even hoped to do, I don’t think.”

But Anderson, who also ran cross country, dedicated the necessary time to the sport, and the team.

“He definitely had some strength behind him, and some minor technique things that we were going to work on,” Warren said of Anderson’s early days with the team. “He came in and became another super strong part of our team through his dedication and hard work.”

Anderson (23.87) and Riedhammer (24.00) finished eighth and ninth, respectively, in the 50-yard free.

Creed’s success in the 100-yard fly was secondary to his performance in the 100-yard breast stroke. The sophomore officially reached the PHS Hall of Fame after a misfire — his time of 1:04.67 was disqualified for exiting his lane early — in the final regular season meet against Worland. Creed’s time of 1:05.22 in the prelims earned him the third spot on the board, and his time of 1:05.43 in the finals was good for fourth place.

“He’s got more potential than most of the kids that come into the program,” Rodriguez said. “He’s just really a racer and a good kid. He does the work when you tell him to do the work.”

Creed said breaking a school record, along with the success he shared with his teammates in the 100 fly, was a season highlight, and is looking forward to more as an upperclassman.

“For me, since I’m only a sophomore, I’ve got two more years to see if we can push our team to second (place) or better,” Creed said.

The combination of Fuller, Creed, Riedhammer and Anderson placed second in the 200-yard medley relay (1:43.77, 1.4 seconds shy of the PHS record) and third in the 400-yard free relay (3:29.55).

Hudson Wilkerson was the runner-up in the 1-meter diving competition. The sophomore joined the Panthers midseason and gave Powell a formidable diving duo alongside junior Nate Magill.

Wilkerson finished with 322.40 points, 14.9 points behind winner Caleb Truman of Worland (347.30).

“It’s the highest that we have placed in a while, which was exciting,” Warren said. “Even more exciting was watching him come in (to Friday’s final dives) in fourth place and working his way up to second place.”

Wilkerson had 222.10 points and was the only diver to score more than 100 points during Friday’s dives.

Magill placed eighth with 292.35 points.

Senior Tyson Wages finished seventh in the 100-yard back with a time of 1:00.90, and 10th in the 100-yard free with a time of 54.68. Both of his final swims were personal bests. Wages cut 2.21 seconds in the backstroke and 1.93 seconds in the freestyle.

“For any senior, it’s good to come in that last race, and get your best time. Place is one thing, but personal performance of time is another,” Warren said.

Rodriguez said the Panthers achieved personal bests in 33 of their 43 events, which is a point of pride for the coach.

“The way that everybody improved, I think everybody on the team improved and a few guys improved a whole lot,” Rodriguez said. “I think they were pretty happy with what they did and I’m very pleased with what they did.”