h/t LVHS Swimming for sharing the below information and photos – LVHS Seniors (L-R): Mason Kinney, T Whiting, Ryan Brinda, Preston Plaisted, Nick Kulow
Lander captured the team title at last Saturday’s Bruce Gresly Invite, utilizing superior depth and top-tier individual performances to handily outdistance the 9-team field. The Tigers’ 22 swimmers and divers scored 352 points — winning 10 of the 12 contested events.
Five LVHS seniors and their families were honored for their contributions to the program, school and community during the meet. Ryan Brinda, Mason Kinney, Nick Kulow, Preston Plaisted and T Whiting swam in their final Bruce Gresly Invite — named for the legendary coach and architect of Lander swimming. The seniors shared thoughts on the meet, memories of their Tiger swimming careers, and words of advice and encouragement for their teammates.
Ryan Brinda: “Each year, the Bruce Gresly Invite is bittersweet, but it was even more so this year. Being able to celebrate a spectacular four years with my fellow seniors while also performing incredibly well at this point in the season, this meet blew away even my highest expectations. The highlight of the weekend was by far when freshman Logan Wietzki qualified in diving and the entire team swarmed to hug him. To me, that moment truly showed how close of a family the swim team is.”
Brinda explained that his lasting memory of swimming will be “literally any time the team was together.” He added, “As I reflect on my time with this team, the one word that continually comes to mind is family. Each season, we start out as an awkward group of teenagers, work our tails off each and every day, and finish the season as a family of slightly-less-awkward teenage boys.
“Being a Lander Tiger swimmer is one of the biggest honors in the world, and continue to represent this team with class and composure,” he told the underclassmen. “More than anything, trust your coaches, teammates, and yourselves. You are all amazing swimmers, but more importantly, you’re incredible people. I know that the best of Lander Tiger swimming is yet to come.”
Mason Kinney: “The overall performance at the meet was spectacular. Everyone outperformed my expectations. The highlight of the meet was watching Logan qualify for state in diving and watching everyone swim their best. What the meet means to me personally is a remembrance and a reminder of the man who started this team and winning streak so many years ago.”
Kinney said his favorite memory of LVHS swimming “is listening to the senior speeches at the Ghost Town gas station my freshman year.” For advice, he quoted a famous Pixar animated character. “As a dementia-ridden fish once said, ‘Just keep swimming.’”
Nick Kulow: “For me as a senior, the Invite is my last home meet. Beyond small duals and such, it was my final opportunity to swim in front of a big home crowd, and it was made all the more memorable with it being senior night as well. As a team, I think we did fantastic. Lander is famous for its swimmers, but it never hurts to showcase it again, especially in the midst of the most difficult part of our season. Even more impressively, our divers were able to dominate, especially Logan with his qualification for state.
“The energy and focus that the team taps into during the meet is something unique, and it temporarily unites the team into a single, powerful unit. Beyond the seniors and a few individual exceptions, there are few swimmers on the team who new Bruce Gresly. However, we still honor him and his legacy through our performance. As one such swimmer who swam with Bruce, it is extremely gratifying to be able to dedicate my effort in the meet to his name.”
Kulow acknowledged his coaches — Shawna Morgan, Tim Hester and Faith Bennigan — for the impact they have on young lives. “Thank you for the constant support and effort that you have invested in every single one of us,” he said. “We are far better students and athletes through your dedication.”
He also thanked “the swim team that becomes my family during these three months. Everything I achieve is through the mutual support we have been able to foster for each other.” Kulow then shared three pieces of advice for his underclass teammates. “First, hard work can only breed success; second, healthy diet trumps any workout regimen; and third, water has no nutritional value.”
Preston Plaisted: “I thought is was our most exciting meet this year. The diving was top notch, the swimming was all fast, and we got to see most of our state competition. We had a new qualifier, and lots of time dropping, too. It was really good.”
Plaisted shared words of wisdom from Henry Ford for his teammates to consider. “‘If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.’” He added, “You can accomplish anything. All it takes is for you to want it so bad that you’re willing to make a change. And listen to the coaches. They know what they’re talking about.”
T Whiting: “The Bruce Gresly Invite has been a way to celebrate our culture as a team and each other’s successes. Two new qualifiers, many personal bests, and the fact that we’re not only a team but a family made the meet truly something to remember. And senior night made us all reflect on how much we’ll miss this.”
Whiting explained that his favorite memory of his swimming experience is “every time I get to be with my team, and seeing Shawna and Tim happy when we perform well.” He told the underclassmen, “You can do anything you commit to, so fulfill your potential, and refuse to lose to yourself. I love you guys, and I’ll miss you all.”
LVHS travels to southeastern Wyoming today to compete in the Laramie Invite. The meet begins this afternoon at 3:00 and Saturday at 8:00.