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West Fargo's Christina Bruenjes hits the sand pit in the long jump Saturday during the Packer Relays in West Fargo. David Samson/The Forum

Ty's Take: Ready or not, here postseason comes

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It often is said that all good things must come to an end. The spring sports season is one of those.

Believe it or not, this week officially marks the beginning of the postseason, as track and field and girls tennis both kick off their conference tournaments.

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The remaining sports kick off their conference and state tournaments sometime during the next four weeks.

So here's the Pioneer's tournament-time rundown, as well as some last-minute West Fargo sports updates.

Track and Field

The West Fargo boys and girls track and field squads have held their own all season and, come Thursday, should be ready to perform during the East Region tournament in Grand Forks.

The boys will be attempting to end a runner-up streak with a first-place finish, while the girls are hoping to keep their tournament title for a second-straight year.

Both are riding momentum from two meets last week. The girls and boys teams finished second during the Fargo Rotary Invitational on Monday, and first at the Packer Relays on Saturday. In fact, the Packers combined for a total of 24 first-place finishes Saturday.

With a time of 44.19 seconds, Ellie Grooters broke her own Fargo Rotary Meet 300-meter hurdle record of 44.80 seconds set last year. She was named Outstanding Female Athlete after collecting 28 points, which included first-place finishes in the 100-meter hurdles and 1,600 relay, and a second-place finish in the 200-meter run. Grooters stands a good chance to defend her 100- and 300-meter hurdle titles at the state tournament.

The 3,200 relay team also could repeat as champions. Though comprised of different runners, the Packers' relay team took first place at each meet last week. The team consisting of Christine Baltezore, Keana Karnopp, Brooke Grooters, and Alissa Mears finished in 9:56.97 at the rotary, while Jessica Rosenau, Karnopp, Kaitlyn Stoppler and Brooke Grooters ran it in 9:45.25 at the Packer Relays. Baltezore and Mears both were part of the state-champion team last season, as was Ellie Grooters.

On the field side, Christina Bruenjes has been strong. The freshman finished second in the long jump and triple jump at the Fargo Rotary, but took first in the events during the Packer Relays after making leaps of 17 feet, 4 inches, and 36-05, respectively.

On the boys side, Jamison Gehrig has been tearing up the track. The senior took first in the 3,200-meters at both meets last week, finishing in 10:03.28 and 10:04.03. He also placed first in the 1,600 at the Packer Relays, and ran a leg with the second-place 3,200 relay team, which included Jake Kroke, Tony Schulz and Victor Soro, at Fargo.

Senior Levi Bachmeier continued to shine in the pole fault, clearing 13-06 in West Fargo for a first place.

The Packers get one more shot at a regular-season meet on Monday during the Last-Chance Invitational at West Fargo, which starts at 4 p.m. Then Saturday they head to the Eastern Dakota Conference Championship in Wahpeton for a 12:30 p.m. start.

Track and Field's state tournament is May 28-29 in Bismarck.

Softball

Though the North Dakota state softball tournament isn't until June 3, that's no reason to get soft as the regular season winds down.

And West Fargo certainly has not.

The Packers won all their games last week, which included a 5-1 thumping over Fargo Shanley, as well as two nonconference games.

Kacie Johnson struck out six batters for a complete-game win over the Deacons on Friday. Madi Anderson led the Packers (19-2) at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a run.

During nonconference play Saturday, the Packers finished off East Grand Forks Sacred Heart in just five innings after running up the scoreboard 10-0. Later, West Fargo defeated Thief River Falls 11-5 behind the leadership of Johnson, who went 2-for-3 at the plate and struck out eight batters for the win.

The Packers faced Fargo North on Tuesday, but results were not in by press time. They play again Thursday, hosting Fargo South at 6:30 p.m. for their final conference game of the season. The Packers then head north to Warroad on Saturday for their last regular-season game of the year.

West Fargo will be attempting to defend its 13th straight state title. This year's state tournament is June 3-5 in Minot.

Girls soccer

After a somewhat sketchy start, the West Fargo girls soccer team has found its stride and has not suffered a loss in the past seven games.

Last Friday, the Packers (3-3-2, 4-3-6) ended in a scoreless tie with Grand Forks Red River. Then on Saturday during an East/West Crossover, the Packers tied Bismarck St. Mary's 2-2 before blanking Mandan 2-0. Scoring for West Fargo during the week were Tia Lopez, Lauren Johnson and Andrea Muller, who found the net twice.

West Fargo still has plenty of time to climb the ranks until the state tournament June 3-5 in Jamestown. Their latest chance came Tuesday against Fargo South, but results were not in by press time. They play again Thursday, hosting Devils Lake at 7 p.m..

The Packers final two regular-season games are May 25, against Shanley, and May 28, at Devils Lake.

Boys golf

After a stellar start to the season, the West Fargo boys golf team has slipped a bit.

The Packers placed fourth last Monday at the Red River Invitational, in what coach Chuck Gad called "the poorest effort of the season." Of West Fargo's five golfers in the meet, only Logan Palmer's 75 was good enough for a Top-10 spot.

They finished lower yet at Thursday's Ottertail Invitational in Fergus Falls, coming in with a team score of 322 and a sixth-place finish. Lucky for West Fargo, it was a nonconference match, so results do not count against their EDC ranking. The Packers currently sit second behind Fargo South, with only four points separating them.

Strong finishes are critical during the next few weeks. The most recent chance for a rebound was Monday during the Fargo Shanley Invitational at Fargo Country Club, but results were not in when this edition of the Pioneer went to press. Their next conference meet isn't until May 26, at the Wahpeton Invitational, so they have ample time to work out the kinks at four nonconference meets until then. Their next ones are at 11 a.m. Friday and Saturday in Detroit Lakes.

Girls Tennis

The Packers girls tennis team currently sits third in the EDC standings and 2.5 games behind conference leaders Grand Forks Red River.

West Fargo had two chances to close the gap last week, but lost a close match to Fargo South 5-4 on Monday. The Packers blanked Valley City 9-0 on Friday.

Their final regular-season match was Tuesday at Wahpeton, but results were not in by press time. West Fargo then heads to the EDC tournament in Grand Forks on May 20-21, where it hopes to improve on its third-place finish from last season.

This year's state tournament is May 27-29 in Grand Forks.

Tyler Shoberg is Sports Editor of the Pioneer, and can be reached at 701-451-5717 or tshoberg@westfargopioneer.com.

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