Season Preview: Girls Swimming & Diving
While North Dakota's western half is known for oil, its eastern half is known for water.
Maybe that's why West Fargo has historically had such a strong swimming program.
Both Packers boys and girls swimming teams have been forces to be reckoned with through the years. Last season, for instance, the girls swimming and diving team successfully defended its Eastern Dakota Conference crown before garnering sixth place at the state tournament.
The West Fargo girls were led by a troupe of seniors, including Madison Anderson, Jill Bechtold, Amy Doll, Ashley Kranda, Meghan Schreier and All-Conference and All-State honoree Chelsea Gentzkow.
That leaves quite a void coming into the season, with only one senior to take their place: Samantha Gunning, who placed eighth last season at the state tournament during the 200 individual medley.
Still, what the Packers may lack in seniors, they more than make up for in depth. At the East Region meet, West Fargo didn't finish a single event in first place, but still managed to take the crown thanks to a solid core of swimmers.
During the state tournament, then-sophomore Paige Weisz grabbed the highest honor for West Fargo by placing third in the 100 yard breaststroke with a time of 1:09.58. She also was part of the seventh-place 200 medley relay team, along with Gentzkow, Doll, and Danica Dutt.
Weisz was on the All-EDC team - she took second in 100 breaststroke during the conference tournament - and earned her second straight All-State Second Team distinction.
Another top returner is Dutt. Though only a freshman, the speedster was able to earn All-Conference and All-State First Team honors with a standout season. In the East Region meet, Dutt swam to second place in the 100 butterfly. During the state tournament, she took fifth place in the 100 butterfly, 10th in the 200 free, and swam a leg in the fifth-place 400 freestyle relay team alongside Gentzkow, Kranda and Alyssa Olson.
The Packers are scheduled to kick off their season with the Fargo North Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 28, though the event time has yet to be announced. West Fargo's first home meet isn't until Sept. 16, when Fargo South visits for a dual.
With only a dozen scheduled events before the postseason, that leaves precious time for the Packers to build momentum. But with several key returners and a deep pool of swimmers, West Fargo has a good chance of defending another EDC crown, and making a strong stand at state.