PACKERS RECLAIM CROWN
The Packers are back on their throne - now they will have to see how far the lofty achievement can carry them.
The boys swimming and diving North Dakota Class A State Tournament is coming up this weekend, after all.
What will happen there may be ascertained by the results of the most recent conference tournament.
Last year, the West Fargo swimming team was gunning for a fourth-straight East Region crown when Fargo North pulled the rug out from underneath.
The Spartans stole the title and relegated the Packers to second place.
Last weekend, West Fargo got its revenge.
After garnering six wins out of a dozen events, the Packers racked up 533.5 points Saturday at Fargo North High School to beat out their hosts by a comfortable 67.5-point margin, and return the East Region championship to West Fargo.
It is the fourth time in five years that West Fargo has taken the honor.
For her leadership, Packers coach Marsha Dahl was named Eastern Dakota Conference Coach of the Year. It is the 11th time the longtime West Fargo coach has earned the distinction.
In the same breath, the Packers stacked the All-Conference team with seven swimmers, including seniors Adam Smestad, Ryder Neva and Nick Huseby, junior Ethan Doll, sophomore Alex Smestad and freshmen Carson Keller and Cole Holoien.
Four individuals brought home titles in five events, and West Fargo accumulated 16 top-six finishers.
The Packers lone relay title came in the 200 freestyle relay, in which Adam Smestad, Alex Smestad, Holoien and Keller combined for a 1 minute, 31.89-second finish to edge second-place Fargo South by a little more than a half second.
Last year, West Fargo took the title in the 400-yard free relay with a time of 3:25.32. This year, Adam Smestad, Holoien, Huseby and Doll improved on that time by nearly two full seconds.
But it wasn't enough, as Fargo North's team blazed to the win in a time of 3:19.02.
In the day's other relay, the 200 medley, West Fargo again placed second behind the fleet-footed Spartans. Huseby, Doll, Keller and Alex Smestad finished in 1:41.94, which was more than a second behind North's efforts.
Even though North may have gotten the edge in the relays, historically some of West Fargo's strongest events, the Packers would get the points they needed through individual efforts.
Doll missed out on capturing a second consecutive 100 butterfly title after finishing in second place and just 0.86 seconds behind Fargo South winner Matt Stiner, who touched the wall in 54.86 seconds.
Directly behind Doll was Keller, who had a third-place time of 56.33 seconds. Repak rounded out the top six in 58.97.
Although he might not have done as well as he'd hoped in the 100 butterfly, Doll did not come home empty handed. He successfully defended his 500 freestyle title in 5:00.93, which was nearly three seconds faster than his winning time last year.
Adam Smestad picked up two individual titles, duplicating his efforts from 2011. He successfully defended his 100 freestyle title with a time of 49.47 seconds, as teammate Holoien finished two seconds back in third place.
Adam Smestad also took first in the 200 freestyle with a winning time of 1:47.42, beating out second place by more than a second.
Last year, one of Adam Smestad's titles came in the 50 freestyle. This year, his younger brother made sure it stayed in the family, as Alex Smestad raced to a 23.15 winning time to get the edge by a little more than a 10th of a second.
West Fargo's last individual title came in the 200 individual medley, when Keller finished in 2:07.37. Teammate Huseby also finished in the Top 6 with a time of 2:09.38.
While the Packers usually rely almost strictly on their swimming prowess to bring home championships, they got a lot of help from diving this year, too.
Neva placed fourth after accumulating 324.9 points, and Holoien rounded out the Top 6 with 279.7 points.
Huseby and Stephen Hulbert took home second-place finishes in the 100 backstroke and 100 breaststroke, respectively.
The North Dakota Class A State Swimming Tournament begins Friday at the Mandan Aquatic Center.
Warm-ups begin at 11:00 a.m. Friday, with diving preliminaries scheduled for 12:30 p.m. The Parade of Athletes will start at 3:30 p.m. with swimming prelims immediately following.
On Saturday, diving semifinals start at 10:30 a.m. The Parade of Athletes will begin at 1:30 p.m. with swimming and diving finals immediately following.