Tough competition at state track meet
There's no doubt that, come State-Tournament time, the best of the best show up to compete.
Last weekend's events in Bismarck were no exception.
The Packers finished their year experiencing highs and lows, but coach Darin McKinnon said it's tough not to be proud.
"We were able to score some points in the jumps and the track, as well, and it's hard to do that," he said. "It's not so much about times and distances anymore, but beating the person in front of you."
The West Fargo boys team managed to scrounge up 90 points and a third-place finish, while the Packer girls were hit hard by the absence of their strongest sprinter, and scratched out 42.5 points and eighth place.
Amanda Levin, who was held out of the East Region meet with an injury, was also forced to sit out at state, meaning the Packers were missing their top points producer of the whole season. McKinnon said Levin still was able to compete in a couple relay events, but the injury made getting down on the blocks in the 100, 200 and 400 meters too difficult.
"Just like with any injury, you hope things get better. It just never got to the point where she was able to go 100 percent," McKinnon said. "It's part of athletics: this is something you run into and it's too bad. For a sprinter, injury to any part of the leg can be devastating."
But where the loss of Levin left a gaping hole in West Fargo's girls sprints, other athletes stepped up.
One was in the jumps, where Christina Bruenjes successfully defended last year's triple jump title with a leap of 37 feet, 8 inches. The sophomore also got third in the long jump after hitting 17-5½.
Another strong competitor was senior Jill Gustafson, who placed fifth in both the triple jump and 100 hurdles. Cherae Reeves placed second in the shot put with a throw of 113-5, and Shelby Gustafson tied for sixth in the high jump after clearing 4-11.
The West Fargo boys also had their stars. For starters, Nick Williams grabbed their lone individual title after hitting 45-5½ in the triple jump. Teammate Michael Reiner made it a 1-2 finish by hitting 43-4¼.
"That was a big event for us," McKinnon said. "I think it's the 'senior factor.' Michael Reiner hadn't jumped 43 feet all year, and then did it in the state meet. Both of them really rose to the occasion."
Another athlete who didn't disappoint was sprinter Shane Siverson. The junior finished second in the 100 meters with a time of 11.61 seconds. Teammate Chaz Gunderson was less than half a second back, and placed sixth.
"Shane had two very good races in the prelims and finals to finish in second place. We're very proud of him," McKinnon said.
Chaz Gunderson also finished third in the long jump, with Williams and Daniel Asa coming in fifth and sixth, respectively, to give the Packers three of the Top 8 spots in the event.
The Packers placed high in relay events, as well, including second in the 3,200, and third in both the 800 and 1,600.
All in all, the promising results at the state tournament were because of a team effort, McKinnon said.
"Individual performances are fun to watch. But as a team, we want to be up there," he said. "We kind of have high expectations as a team to score as many point as we could."
And the future looks bright for next crop of West Fargo athletes.
"We're going to lose some good senior leadership and talent, but we have a nice core of young kids coming in," McKinnon said. "We're excited."