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Tiger swim team streak voted top story of the year
The Lander Valley High School boys swim team won its 17th consecutive Class 3-A state championship this year in Gillette. Gillette News Record photo

Tiger swim team streak voted top county sports story

Dec 31, 2013 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports Editor

The amazing Class 3-A state-championship swimming streak by the Lander Valley High School Tigers is the No. 1 2013 sports story in Fremont County.

Lander is up to 17 titles in a row in Class 3-A.

Staff members of The Ranger, Lander Journal and Wind River News voted on the top 10 county sports stories.

The Wyoming Indian boys cross country team winning its seventh straight Class 2-A team titles was voted the No. 2 story of the year.

The Riverton High School boys golf team winning the Class 4-A state title earned the No. 3 position.

The Lander Valley High School boys golf team's victory at state in Class 3-A landed a spot at No. 4.

RHS freshman Easton Paxton winning the Class 4-A individual golf title and the Wolverines placing second at the 4-A state basketball tournament tied for the No. 5 slot.

Wyoming Indian High School freshman Charlene Brown and senior Wilson Clifford both running to individual titles was good for No. 7.

Dubois wrestlers Sterling Baker and Cody Flynn winning state championships came in at No. 8.

Former Riverton High School football coach Jeremy McCormick's resignation and accompanying developments was No. 9. Riverton placed second at the state Little League tournament, good for No. 10 on the list.

1. Lander wins again

No. 17 is in the books for the Lander Valley High School swimming and diving team.

The Tiger boys won their 17th consecutive Class 3-A state championship in Gillette at the state swim meet, moving the team up another spot in the National Federation of High Schools record book.

Lander now holds the sixth-longest high school championship swim streak in the nation and is the only one in the top six that is active.

Lander won two individual and two relay first places and on the way to victory.

2. Chiefs win state XC title

The championship streak has reached seven straight Class 2-A boys cross country titles for the Wyoming Indian High School Chiefs.

WIHS kept its dynasty going by scoring 20 points for the Class 2-A boys team title at the state meet in Sheridan.

The team with the fewest points wins in cross country.

All the team titles have been won under the direction of coach Chico Her Many Horses.

"Winning seven in a row means being awfully lucky or working really hard," WIHS coach Chico Her Many Horses. "We have just outworked everybody."

3. RHS takes state golf

School history was made when three freshmen and one junior propelled the Riverton Wolverines to the Class 4-A state golf championship in October at Rock Springs.

RHS beat runner-up Cheyenne East by one stroke.

Not only is it the first state golf crown in Riverton history, it's the first Class 4-A championship in any sport for Riverton's boys. The Wolverines have four Class 3-A football titles and a 1963 track championship that pre-dates the modern classification system.

Freshmen Easton Paxton, Alec Richardson and Jayd Dion, plus junior Chris Quayle, got a celebration fire truck ride through Riverton after getting back to town.

Paxton also won the individual title.

4. Lander claims 3-A boys golf championship

Lander won the crown with upperclassmen Casey Winger, Scott Kaufman and Levi Stuttle. Sophomore Trey Massey was the other player on the team.

The title came in September in Buffalo.

The tournament was only one day instead of two because of bad weather.

The Tigers finished with a winning team score of 324. Jackson finished second at 326.

"They had a good work ethic on the golf course, and that was fun," Lander coach Terry Berg said. "I didn't have to get on them."

Berg has been with the Lander program for 37 years. He has been a part of seven boys state titles and three girls titles.

5. (tie) Paxton finishes first for RHS

Riverton High School freshman Easton Paxton pulled away from the field to secure the Class 4-A individual golf crown by an 11-stroke margin in Rock Springs.

It was the first ever Class 4-A individual title won by a Riverton High School player.

Paxton begin the state title march with a 73 on a windy opening day. He played to a 69 on the final day for the history-making victory.

"It means a lot," Paxton said. "That is what I have worked for my whole life."

The tournament was played at the par-72 White Mountain Golf Course.

Earlier, Paxton finished second at the Class 4-A West conference tournament played at the Riverton Country Club.

"I didn't think there was any pressure (at state) because I was a freshman," Paxton said.

Former RHS golfer Aaron Nirider finished one stroke off the pace last year at the Class 4-A state tournament in Casper, the best finish by a Wolverine at state before Paxton's victory.

5. RHS second at 4-A state basketball

The Riverton Wolverines, owners of the most wins in school history, wished they could have carved just one more. Playing for the state championship for the first time since 1983 against a familiar Class 4-A West conference foe, Riverton led early but couldn't hold on against the defending state champions, and the Evanston Red Devils downed the Wolverines 54-50 to win the class 4-A high school basketball state championship at the Casper Events Center.

It was a tough loss for Riverton, which struggled to find any offensive rhythm against a pesky Red Devil defense, mostly of the man-to-man variety.

Riverton reached the championship game thanks to an electrifying come-from-behind victory over the No. 1 Gillette Camels 69-63. Xavier Webb hit for 30 points in that game.

The win, Riverton's 24th this season, set a record for most in school history by an RHS boys team and was one of the great Wolverine victories of all time. RHS overcame a Gillette team that was 23-2 entering the game, including an 83-54 rout of Riverton in December. The Camels had not lost to a Wyoming team this year until the Wolverines took them down at state.

The outcomes of the finals "was a devastating loss but at the same time, it was a great season. We tend to get focused in the moment, but we have to be happy with our season, and I am happy with our kids.

They are tremendous kids," a dejected coach Dick Quayle said after the title game.

7. Brown/Clifford win cross country titles

It was a clean sweep for WIHS in the boys and girls individual races at the 2-A state cross country meet race in Sheridan.

Wyoming Indian's Wilson Clifford won the boys individual race, and Charlene Brown took the girls title.Clifford is a senior, Brown a freshman. Clifford also won the title last year.

"Wilson ran smart," Her Many Horses said.

"At the start of the year, he was running too much out in front. At the back end of the races, he was putting everything together. He put together a really good race."

8. Dubois wrestlers win in Casper

Sterling Baker and Cody Flynn have been wrestling practicing partners all season for Dubois High School. The pair capped off outstanding seasons by celebrating individual state championships at the Casper Events Center.

"It was a very exciting night," Dubois coach David Trembly said. "It was pretty awesome to get them into the finals. It was just incredible to have them both win by pins."

9. McCormick resigns from RHS

Former Riverton High School football coach Jeremy McCormick resigned under pressure in May.

"He believes at this point it is in the best interest of the program and that the students would be best served to move forward in that direction," Fremont County School District 25 superintendent Terry Snyder said.

"(He) put the program before himself in this situation. He said, 'I think this is what is needed at this time.'"

His resignation comes after a tumultuous off-season during which seven assistant football coaches resigned or were asked by McCormick not to return to coach the Wolverines in the 2013-14 season.

In five seasons as Riverton's head coach, McCormick's record was 18-27 overall and 1-4 in Class 3-A state playoff games. He is the state's high school football Class 3-A East conference coach of the year.

Pat Patterson replaced McCormick.

No. 10 Riverton second at state Little League

Cody ended Riverton's dream of winning a state Little League baseball championship with a 13-11 win in the 11- and 12-year-old title game in Laramie.

Riverton would have had to beat Cody twice on in order to win the state championship.

Riverton reached the championship game after blasting six home runs in an 18-6 win vs. Gillette in a must-win gam. Hayden Wempen had three of the homers.

Gillette edged Riverton 15-14 in the opening round Riverton won a 6-1 decision over Sheridan to stay alive.

Riverton had beaten Cody 4-3 in the district championship game at the Ron Saban Baseball Complex in Riverton.

-- Staff writer Craig Blumenshine and publisher Steve Peck contributed to this story.

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