Get ready: Postseason is nigh
Hold on to your hats: it's nearly tournament time.
By the end of the week, the winter sports postseason will kick off with the Eastern Dakota Conference wrestling tournament.
Then it snowballs, with either East Region or state tournaments every weekend through the second week of March.
And with a precious few matches and games left, nothing is certain in the standings. Here's a look so far at how each West Fargo sport stacks up going into the postseason.
The top five spots in the East Region are wide open, with only a few games left in the regular season.
With wins last week over Fargo North on Tuesday and Devils Lake on Thursday, the Packers boys hockey team can finish no lower than the No. 5 seed in the EDC tournament, which takes place Feb. 18-20 at the Urban Plains Center.
West Fargo (6-5-2 EDC, 11-5-3) is sitting with 15 points and only has two games left to round out the regular season. If they beat Wahpeton-Breckenridge (0-9-0, 4-13-1) on Tuesday, Feb. 9 - which, consequently, is a four-point game - and Fargo Shanley (2-9-0, 6-12-0) on Feb. 12, the Packers have a chance to finish no higher than a No. 2 seed.
In order for this to happen, not only would West Fargo have to beat its final two opponents - which isn't a stretch even though the Packers have yet to face the Blades this season - but the top four teams in the East Region would have to drop some pretty unlikely matchups. Nothing is impossible, of course, but assuming the Packers will win their final two games against the two lowest-ranking teams in the EDC, look for them to finish at least at No. 4.
Riding a wave of winning momentum that has carried them through much of the regular season, the Packers girls hockey team hit their first speed bump last Friday, falling 9-1 to Minnesota powerhouse Warroad.
Though it was a nonconference loss, the Warriors (22-1-1) no doubt had an impact on West Fargo (14-0-0, 14-1-1).
Still, the Packers' impressive numbers are undeniable. The only blemishes on their flawless season came during nonconference games to Minnesota teams (the other was a tie against Fergus Falls). The nine goals scored by Warroad doubled the total number of goals West Fargo had given up all season.
It is no stretch of the imagination that West Fargo will finish as the No. 1 seed going into the state tournament Feb. 25-27 at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks (girls hockey does not have an East or West Region tournament). The Packers have four games before the state tournament and they've beaten each opponent already this season. Their top two scorers, Kacie Johnson and Kelsey Kloos, are ranked No. 1 and 4, respectively, and have combined for 75 points. As a team, West Fargo is averaging nearly six points a game against North Dakota opponents.
Before their game against Warroad, West Fargo played Fargo North on Feb. 2, and won 3-1. The Spartans are ranked second in the standings and have been the Packers' biggest conference competition all year. That said, West Fargo can't put its guard down during the final stretch, as they face some top talent. Up next is a 5:15 p.m. game Thursday at Grand Forks (9-3-0, 9-5-2), followed by a trip to Bismarck (9-5-0, 10-6-1) on Saturday for a 5 p.m. game. Their final two games are Feb. 16 at Fargo South and Feb. 19 against Jamestown.
The Packers wrestling squad went out this regular season winning duals all the way, their most recent coming Tuesday over Fargo North, and Friday over Wahpeton.
West Fargo finished with seven conference dual wins (12-0 overall), and in five tournaments placed first twice, second twice and third once. They even beat out Bismarck in the most recent Class A poll to take sole position of first place.
The Packers have eight wrestlers ranked in the Top 6 in the state and three ranked No. 1: Preston Lehmann at 160, Tyler Lehmann at 189 and Scott Schiller at 215. Eric Lehmann is No. 2 at 171 and West Fargo has two wrestlers ranked in the 103 class: No. 2 Jordan Shearer and No. 4 Trever Kringlie.
This weekend's EDC tournament is Saturday at 10 a.m. at Fargo North High School. The state tournament kicks off Feb. 18-20 at the Fargodome.
The West Fargo boys swimming and diving team is surging toward the postseason.
Following their 107-79 dual win over Mandan on Friday, the Packers remain undefeated at 5-0. They also have three first-place tournament finishes and only one second-place finish.
With just two duals remaining before the East Region tournament on Feb. 27 at West Fargo, the Packers should be a lock for the No. 1 seed. Their final meets (both at home) are 5:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12 against Fargo North, and 5:30 p.m. Feb. 19 against Jamestown.
Of all the winter sports winding down, basketball is the one with the least amount of certainty.
Last week, the Packers boys basketball team beat Grand Forks Central 66-52 on Tuesday, before falling to Fargo North 67-44 on Saturday. West Fargo (7-2, 10-4) has five games remaining before the EDC tournament March 4-6 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.
Their most recent game was Tuesday, Feb. 9, against Fargo Shanley, but the results weren't in when this edition of the Pioneer went to press. They face Devils Lake at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.