For the first time in 16 years the Laramie Lady Plainsmen Swimming and Diving team won a 4A State Championship last Saturday in Gillette.

Laramie topped the 4A field with 258 points, which was good enough to beat Sheridan by 10 points. The Laramie girl’s won three events, two in state record time, to get the top spot on the podium.

Veteran Laramie head coach Tom Hudson admitted it was a long drought, and it feels amazing.

“The girls just swam so well, and there was ups and downs all the way through the finals, but really what salted it away was just the 200 free relay and 400 free relay. Both winning and doing it in state record times.”

Sophomore Olivia McPherson led the charge with three victories. She became a two-time state champion in the 50 freestyle by defending her title from 2016. McPherson won in a school record 23.44 seconds. She also added another school record in a runner-up finish in the 100 freestyle in 50.71 seconds. Cheyenne Central’s Sammy Geyer won that event in 50.52 seconds.

Hudson said, “Olivia and Sammy one more time, and they have battled it out many times in the 50 free. Olivia was able to best her again, not by much, but she got it done. It was a great race.”

The margin of victory was .15 seconds.

McPherson also swam the anchor leg on both winning relays. The 200 freestyle relay won in 1:36.68, a new record. Junior Carter Burchi led off, followed by junior Catie Weathermon, senior Maggie Clerkin and then McPherson.

In the 400 freestyle relay, LHS won in another record time, this was 3:33.16. Burchi led off again, was followed by Clerkin, then sophomore Sage Morton swam before McPherson brought home the title.

Hudson said, “In finals, our plan was to anchor with Olivia because we’d swam her early all season long just to try to keep us in it. So, we were behind going into the last leg on both of those relays… Olivia did something special coming from behind in the 200 free relay by almost a second, and by almost a second-and-a-half in the 400 free relay. We were just ecstatic to see what happened there. We looked up at the clock and state records in both, so that was just icing on the cake.”

Laramie set a total of six school records at the meet. Burchi got one in the 100 butterfly (59.95) for fourth, and Clerkin added another in the 500 freestyle (5:13.89), which was good for second place.

After the three wins, the Lady Plainsmen had 10 other top-six finishes. Many more came in the consolation finals.

Hudson said going in their depth would have to come through to win the state title and it did.

“Sixteen of those 22 that swam and dove came back into the finals or consolations. We scored a great deal of points in the consolations… we picked up a lot of needed points their through the consolations. If we didn’t have that, we wouldn’t have won.”

This is the fourth state title in 4A girls swimming and diving for Tom Hudson, who was named the 4A Coach of the Year.

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