Prep Signing: South’s Buchanan to swim at Milligan

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 1, 2013

Staff report

Less than a year ago, South Rowan’s Bonner Buchanan was a basketball player. On Thursday, Buchanan signed to swim for the Milligan College Buffaloes.
It was quite the transition. Last year saw several coaching changes in Landis. Bryan Withers replaced John Davis as basketball coach, while Jacob Morton replaced Greg Yanz at the helm of the swim program. In a summer of change, Buchanan decided it was time for him to shift gears as well.
“Coach Morton has been on me about swimming since before he was a coach,” said Buchanan, who was a solid performer off the bench for the basketball team, but was looking for an opportunity to step into the spotlight. “I didn’t see basketball going anywhere for me, so I just decided to take a chance.”
“He almost slipped right by,” Morton said. “He could have stayed with basketball and all this never would have happened. It makes you wonder how many Bonner Buchanans are out there that we don’t know about.”
In Buchanan’s first – and only – season competing for the Raider swim team, he enjoyed incredible success, earning all-county honors and advancing to the state championships, where he led off a 200 freestyle relay that finished fifth. He came within a fingernail of breaking school records in both the 200 free relay and the 50 freestyle. He was all-conference in four events: the 200 medley relay, 50 freestyle, 200 free relay and 100 backstroke. Outside of summers with the occasional recreational swim, Buchanan’s first dip in the pool came this past November.
“To do everything he did in just one year is unreal,” Morton continued. “It’s a credit to his family, his character and his work ethic. He has as much natural ability as anyone I have known personally in the sport, but the key was that he worked hard. Just imagine if he had been out here since he was a freshman.”
Luckily, imagination won’t be necessary to see the realization of Buchanan’s potential. He’ll have four more years swimming for the Buffalos.
Milligan, a division II school just outside of Johnson City, Tennessee, competes in the Appalachian Swimming Conference and the NAIA against foes including North Carolina’s Mars Hill and Warren Wilson. The Buffalos are under the direction of first year coach R.C. Weston.
“One of the things that drew me to Milligan was Coach Weston,” commented Buchanan. “He’s a young coach.” Weston may be young, but he’s enthusiastic about the direction of the program and optimistic about its newest addition. “We’re very excited about Bonner,” Weston said. “The sky is the limit for him.”
“He’s got the ability, and he’s got everyone rooting for him,” Morton said. “And now he’s got a chance.” And if Buchanan holds true to recent history, he won’t disappoint.”