The West Fargo boys swimming and diving team successfully defended its East Region tournament crown for the third year in a row, earning 395.5 points last weekend at Berger Pool in West Fargo.
Next up for the Packers: defending their 2009 state title when they head to Mandan on Friday for the North Dakota state tournament.
West Fargo took first in the East Region tournament with a healthy 63.5-point lead over second-place Fargo North. Fargo South finished third with 267, and Grand Forks brought up the rear with 148.5.
The Packers had eight first-place finishers, and put at least one swimmer in the top three spots of every race. They also swept two races, finishing 1-2-3 in both the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke.
Leading the charge was senior Jake Weible, the defending state champion in the 100 backstroke and a member of last year's champion 200 medley relay team along with current Packer standout Austin Keller. Weible finished more than a second ahead of Fargo South runner-up Jake Reopelle to take first in the 100 yard freestyle, and also placed first in the 100 yard backstroke. Teammates Nick Huseby and Ryder Neva placed second and third in the event, respectively.
Besides Weible and Keller, last year's championship 200 medley relay team had consisted of then seniors Eric Benson and Zach Cormican. With the latter two absent because of graduation, the Packers needed to find swimmers to fill the void if they hoped to defend their title at this year's state tournament. If the East Region meet is any indication, it appears they have found those replacements in sophomore Adam Smestad and junior Daniel Hulbert. The fearsome foursome took first place in the event, finishing in a scorching 1:40.53, or over three seconds faster than runner-up Fargo North.
Weible, Smestad, Hulbert, and Jared Sykora also took first with another commanding three-second lead in the 400 freestyle relay.
Hulbert snagged first in the 200 free with a 1:49.99, followed closely behind by teammates Smestad and Alan Repak.
Freshman Ethan Doll is hoping to defend his title in the 500 freestyle. He made strides in doing so at the EDC, boasting a first-place time of 5:06.87 that put him a lengthy 10 seconds ahead of the competition. Doll also finished strong in the 200 individual medley, placing third behind teammate Keller.
Kevin Roberts finished with a combined score of 302.70 to grab fist place in the one-meter diving competition. Neva placed second with 291 points.
Ten West Fargo swimmers were honored on the All-EDC team. They were: Hulbert, Weible, Doll, Sykora, Smestad, Roberts, Keller, Neva, Huseby and Repak. Weible also was named the EDC Senior Athlete of the Year.
Packers coach Marsha Dahl was named EDC Coach of the Year for the second year running and the 10th time in her career. If Dahl earns the North Dakota Coach of the Year award again this year after state, it will be the fourth year straight and the fifth in her career.
Tyler Shoberg is Sports Editor of the Pioneer and can be reached at 701-451-5717 or email@example.com.