The pursuit of a fourth consecutive Class 4A championship is on for the Laramie girls’ swimming and diving team.

Laramie has dominated the last two state championship meets and begins 2020 as the team to beat, again.

The Lady Plainsmen lost two state champions in Olivia McPherson and Sage Morton. McPherson was a three-time winner of the ‘Swimmer of the Meet’ and ‘Swimmer of the Year’ honor.

The cupboard is not bare for LHS, as head coach Tom Hudson has a roster that features five returning all-state swimmers and divers. They are led by senior Katie McPherson who is the defending champ in the 50 freestyle.

Hudson feels very good about his squad this season.

“We do have some great strength coming back on our team. We have a decent amount of depth. Our diving program is super strong, and we return a state champion in Katie McPherson, as well, so we are the prohibitive favorite, although Cheyenne Central has made some big improvements over the off-season, got a nice freshman class, and they’re going to give us everything we want.”

He realizes it won’t be as easy as the past two seasons, and they will get challenged.

McPherson will be the leader on this team.

Hudson says, “She’s an outstanding swimmer, outstanding kid, and a really dynamic leader, so we look for her to really lead the way.”

KOWB’s David Settle had a chance to visit with McPherson and fellow senior Maddie Applehans, who is a diver. They talked about being seniors in high school, their training, the team goals, adjusting for the virus, and more in the video above.

Hudson also is looking to junior Anna Roesler, sophomore Ashlon Mathes, and sophomore Therese Richardson to play significant roles this year.

The divers look to be five or six deep. They are led by junior Natalie Six, who was the state runner-up in 2019.

Hudson said, “We look for Natalie to lead the way, but what we have there is just a program and depth that we haven’t had in a long, long time. We’ll go five or six deep in diving qualifiers, and coach Ben Herdt has done a really nice job just building that depth and the whole team concept.”

While losing two power swimmers, the biggest adjustment has been to their training and meet schedule due to COVID. Swim meets are limited to a max of four teams and 80 total participants.

Hudson added, “In swimming, we’re used to having giant invitationals. The Laramie Invitational was scheduled in October, and we were scheduled to have 22 teams. We had to change everything. It’s condensed down to dual meet formats and tops of 80 kids, so that was the biggest change.”

He stated they’ve added JV opportunities for other kids to have a chance to swim since their roster size is at 45.

“Things definitely look different than they ever have before. The thing I keep telling myself and the girls is we’re thankful we’re at least having a season, and we’re going to accept the changes and make the best of it.”

Hudson feels they’ll need to develop their depth to fend off the challenge from Cheyenne Central. One key will be to get state qualifiers early in the season.

Laramie got off to a good start. They won the Laramie Relays team title last Friday and captured eight events. The Lady Plainsmen had nine swimmers and divers qualify for the state meet last Saturday at the Laramie Pentathlon.

LHS will host Campbell County and Thunder Basin on Friday.

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