There is one goal the West Fargo boys swimming and diving team will not be able to meet this year: winning all of their regular-season duals.
That lone blemish came Friday, when Fargo North swam to a 97-89 victory in a dual at the Spartans' home pool.
But the Packers sort of have an excuse: they were sick.
"You know, we had back-to-back duals and a sick team, I'm happy we finished as strong as we did," Packers coach Marsha Dahl said. The day before the dual at North, West Fargo took on Fargo South and won 112-74.
Thanks to illness, West Fargo was seven swimmers shy of a full team against the Spartans. Four of whom, Dahl said, are regular points producers in meets. That said, the West Fargo coach isn't selling Fargo North short. She knows they are a good team, and the dual likely would have been close regardless if West Fargo had a full roster.
"It's no major shock to me because I knew it would be tough, anyway," she said. "They have a very good dual meet lineup, and we didn't have our best lineup.
"North has a very solid team. We've barely beaten them in bigger meets all year long. I knew it was going to take something big in order to beat them. I'm just glad (the loss) was only by eight points."
The Packers have one more dual in their regular season, a road trip to Jamestown on Friday for a 5:30 p.m. start. And while a completely healthy squad would be nice against the Bluejays, Dahl is more concerned about the East Region meet in two weeks.
"Between rides on buses and stays in hotel rooms, the whole team is in close quarters," Dahl said. "We don't want it to happen now, but that's just the way it goes."
West Fargo will attempt to defend its EDC crown for the fourth year in a row. Last season, they had eight first-place finishers, and put at least one swimmer in the top three spots of every race to garner 395.5 points and the championship. The Packers also had 1-2-3 finishes in the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke.
This year's East Region meet kicks off Feb. 26, at Fargo North High School.
Girls hockey: The Packers swept last week, improving their overall record to 18-3-0. They picked up a 4-1 win at Williston on Friday, and a 6-0 shutout over Minot on Saturday. As it stands, West Fargo has 32 points and is tied with Fargo South at the top of the standings. However, the Packers could take control of the No. 1 spot if they can finish out the regular season with wins. They headed to Grand Forks on Tuesday, but results were not in by press time. West Fargo's final game of the season is Friday, hosting Jamestown. In contrast, the Bruins only have one game left in their schedule, which means even if South wins, the Packers could take sole possession of the No. 1 spot with a sweep this week. In any case, they will be in good shape come the postseason. The state tournament coincides with the boys state tournament, and runs Feb. 24-26 in Grand Forks.
Boys basketball: West Fargo (10-5 EDC, 11-5) picked up a critical win last week, dropping Grand Forks Red River 66-58 on Saturday. With the victory, the two teams currently are tied for third in the EDC standings at 10-5, and are two games back from No. 1 Fargo North (12-3). The Packers also picked up a 67-51 nonconference win over Moorhead on Thursday. Although March madness still is a few weeks away, West Fargo has little chance to relax. With just two games remaining in the regular season (minus Tuesday's game at North, which was not finished by press time) the Packers need to put on the pressure. Their next game comes Saturday at 3:30 p.m. hosting Wahpeton, while their grand finale is 7:45 p.m. Feb. 24 at South. Though the Packers were victorious over the Wolves when they met Jan. 18, that was not the case against the Bruins, who soundly beat West Fargo 70-57 on Jan. 15.
Girls basketball: The Packers (9-6 EDC, 10-6) have slipped a few pegs after leading the East Region standings early in the season. With a costly 55-50 loss to Red River (6-9, 5-10) last week, West Fargo was bounced to fifth in the standings. They now are 4.5 games behind No. 1 Grand Forks Central, and just a half game back from No. 4 Fargo South. Besides their game Tuesday at Fargo North (which was not complete when this edition of the Pioneer went to press) the Packers have just two regular season games left until the East Region tournament kicks off March 3 in Fargo. The Packers host Wahpeton at 5:15 p.m. Saturday, and then head to Fargo South on Feb. 24 for a 6 p.m. tipoff. The state tournament for both girls and boys basketball runs March 10-12 in Fargo.
Tyler Shoberg is Sports Editor of The Pioneer, and can be reached at 701-451-5717 or email@example.com.