By Tyler Shoberg
After winning their third straight conference championship the week before, the Packers were hoping for a strong showing at the North Dakota state swimming meet last weekend in Mandan.
And a strong showing they got.
West Fargo improved on its sixth-place finish from the year before to wind up fourth overall with 243 points. At a mere 8.5 points in front of the Packers was Fargo North, preceded by Grand Forks Red River and tournament champion, Bismarck Century.
Though they didn't bring home a team title, Danica Dutt was gracious enough to bring home an individual championship for West Fargo, as well as All-State First Team honors. The freshman finished nearly a second-and-a-half ahead of her closest competitor to win the 100 butterfly outright in 59.47 seconds.
Besides Dutt's victory, the 100 fly was arguably West Fargo's richest individuals event, garnering 39 points from four swimmers. In eighth place was Sam Gunning, followed in tenth by Hallie Peterson and 16th by Marisol Rios.
Dutt proved her aquatic versatility with a fourth-place finish in the 50-yard freestyle, as well as swimming the last leg with the second-place 200 free relay team. Aubrey Wentz started the show, followed by Alexa and Alyssa Olson. The Patriots took the win in 1:41.43.
Freshman Hannah Reis also swam in the 50 free, gleaning a critical point for the Packers by placing 16th overall.
West Fargo's next-highest finish was in the 400 freestyle relay, in which Gunning, Alyssa Olson, Rachel Kranda and Dutt finished in 3 minutes, 44.22 seconds.
Kranda picked up 15 crucial points by taking fourth in the 500 freestyle. The junior finished in 5:17.91, and earned All-State Second Team honors for the effort. Alyssa Olson also swam the event, and placed ninth with a time of 5:25.03; nearly two seconds faster than her preliminary swim time.
Kranda also raced in the 100 backstroke, grabbing an eighth-place finish with a time of 1:02.54.
Besides Kranda's 500 free, Wentz picked up West Fargo's next highest standing with a fifth-place finish in the 200-yard individual medley. The freshman swam a 2:17.73, and finished two spots ahead of Gunning who finished in 2:20.29.
Wentz also swam to eighth-place in the 100 breaststroke, while fellow Packer Krista Windjue placed 14th.
Another top finish came from Alyssa Olson, who took sixth place and grabbed 13 points in the 200 free after hitting the wall at slightly more than 2 minutes. Teammate Hallie Peterson placed ninth and also grabbed nine points in the event.
The West Fargo 200 medley relay team of Kranda, Wentz, Gunning and Kenna Jo Sand wound up eight overall at 1:58.20.
Alexa Olson was the Packers' final finisher, taking 12th-place honors in the 100 free in a time of 57.82 seconds.