BUFFALO — What a difference three days can make. What a difference 70 miles can make. The Sheridan boys swimming and diving team competed at the Buffalo Bison Invite Tuesday, and the meet starkly contrasted what the Broncs experienced this past Friday and Saturday in Gillette.
For one, the meet Tuesday — held at the Buffalo YMCA — only featured six lanes, and fans were sequestered to one corner of the pool, squelching any real atmosphere. Swimmers could move freely around the deck without much foot traffic, and the meet itself, from start to finish, took a little over an hour.
Gillette featured an electric ambiance with swimmers, about 250 in all, from all over the state surrounding the pool for each and every event. Fans were engaged with it being the first swim competition of the winter season.
“It was a lot more exciting in Gillette,” Sheridan head coach Brent Moore admitted. “It does make it hard to motivate for a meet like (Tuesday’s), but we are hoping the boys can step up and compete every time.”
Moore must have said just enough in the pregame speech as the Broncs edged host Buffalo by one point, 298-297, to win the four-team invite. Newcastle placed third with 179 points and Campbell County came in fourth with 65.
The close win was nice to bring home, but Moore admitted there’s much to improve upon.
“There were pluses and minuses this afternoon,” Moore said. “We had some really great swims at the beginning when we were right on it. The last half of the meet, the boys looked tired and a little bit out of shape.
“We have a lot to work on.”
Sheridan won half of the events and also placed second in a pair of those races.
Sheridan’s Oscar Patten won all four of his events and that included the two races where the Broncs claimed the top two spots. Patten touched in 23.09 seconds to top the field in the 50-yard freestyle and placed first during the 100-yard backstroke, boasting a time of 1 minute, .68 seconds. Patten added to his impressive resume by helping both the 200-yard medley and 400-yard freestyle relays top the field. The medley — consisting of Noah Hodges, Kody Palmer, Patten and Thomas Yates — finished with a time of 1:55.74, and the 400-freestyle relay — composed of the same four swimmers — clocked in at 3:58.24.
Palmer, who, like his head coach, admitted Tuesday’s meet held less excitement than the weekend in Gillette, laid claim to the fastest 100-yard butterfly time of 1:04.46 while also setting a season-best time of 1:21.73 in the 100-yard breaststroke in a third-place finish.
“It kind of was tough to get up for this meet,” Palmer said. “But at the end of the day, you know you can always go for a PR.”
Emmett Potter, who represented the only diver competing Tuesday, had a strong performance along with a bundle of other teammates that Moore singled out after the conclusion of the meet Tuesday.
“Emmett Potter dove really, really well,” Moore said. “Thomas Yates and Noah Hodges had great swims for us this afternoon and placed well. Oscar Patten was swimming for the first time since his meniscus surgery and he did well.”
Plenty of other Broncs swam well in a meet that Moore thinks best served as a way for his new swimmers to get accustomed to the dual-meet setting.
The next dual for the Broncs is slated for Friday when they travel to Casper to battle Kelly Walsh.