West Fargo made it a clean sweep this weekend as boys basketball, girls basketball and the boys swimming and diving team all won their season openers.
With earlier wins from girls hockey, boys hockey and wrestling, it is the first time since girls hockey was sanctioned as a varsity sport at West Fargo that the Packers have tallied a victory in every winter opener.
If that's not setting the bar high, I don't know what is.
So without further ado, here's a week's worth of Packer sports wrapped up into one write-up.
Boys and girls basketball
sweep Bismarck St. Mary's
The Bismarck St. Mary's boys and girls basketball teams came to West Fargo on Friday, Dec. 11, only to get swept right back out of town.
The girls basketball game was first in line and turned out to be a close matchup between nonconference teams. At the end of the first half, the Packers were only ahead 30-28 before winning 67-64.
West Fargo junior guard Katelyn Holland - last season's points leader for the Packers - racked up a game-high 27 points. Also for the Packers, Jill Gustafson had nine points, Jenna Green had eight and Courtney Voeller, Carissa Becher and Haley Miller each tallied six points. Danielle Nelson also had five points.
Alyssa Kopp's 22 points led St. Mary's while Brooke Christensen put up 15.
The Packers boys basketball team also had a close matchup against St. Mary's, who trailed by only four points as West Fargo won 59-55.
Six-foot-two center Austin Nelson paced the Packers with 16 points, and last season's No. 4 points scorer Chase Farkas tallied 14. Rounding out West Fargo was Justin Schock with nine points, Dan Hoy with eight, Chris Williams with four and Spencer Flaten and Kolby Schmidt with three apiece. Brady Schwartz also had two points.
Ryan Huber and Davis Becker led Bismarck St. Mary's with 14 and 13 points, respectively.
The West Fargo boys and girls basketball teams had games against Grand Forks Red River on Tuesday, Dec. 15, the results of which were not in when this edition of the Pioneer went to press. Next up for both Packers teams is a road trip to Devils Lake on Saturday, Dec. 19. The girls begin at 3:30 p.m. and the boys tipoff at 5:15 p.m.
Boys hockey drops two
The only hiccup last week for West Fargo was two straight losses by the boys hockey team, the first coming against visiting Grafton-Park River and the second on the road against East Region-leading Grand Forks Red River.
It had to come sometime, but who would have thought the first loss of the winter season would be immediately after the recent publishing of a story describing the unbeaten streak of West Fargo sports?
A certain sports writer apologizes if he jinxed anything.
The game between the Packers and Grafton-Park River was a fast-paced, hard-hitting, well-executed matchup of talented teams. In the end, the Spoilers (2-0-1 EDC, 2-0-1 overall) stole the show when Sam Tweten scored more than three minutes into overtime to put it away 6-5.
The Packers (1-2-0, 3-2-0) got things rolling when Kyle Shoman scored during the first period with assists from Derek Sand and Jeremy Johnson. West Fargo kept the score 1-0 through the first period, but not before Landon Knoll was called for interference, with 11 seconds remaining.
This set up a powerplay opportunity for the Spoilers to start the second period, and they took full advantage when Reilly Mathiason ripped a shot from the West Fargo blue line past junior goalie Cameron Holland to tie things up. Then a little more than a minute later, Mathiason scored again to put Grafton-Park River ahead 2-1.
Packers senior Gage Shoman scored to tie the game at the end of the second period.
The third period saw the same back-and-forth scoring. With the Spoilers ahead and the clock ticking down, West Fargo defenseman Brandon Tendeland scored to fend off a potential Grafton-Park River victory and send the game into overtime.
But nearly four minutes into the extra period, Tweten got the game-winner for the Spoilers.
Holland made 35 saves on the night and Spoilers goalie Dylan Offutt made 39.
Overall, West Fargo had an even offensive strike, getting goals and assists from 10 different players. Only two players put up multiple points, as Kyle Shoman finished with two goals while Charlie Torrance had a goal and an assist.
Against the Roughriders (3-0-0, 4-0-0) it was a different story entirely. The Packers were outshot nearly 2-1 as Grand Forks Red River marched to a 7-3 win.
The Packers' Holland was pulled in the third period and replaced with Josh Hanson, who made 12 saves on the night.
Red River made a two-goal run to start the game, tallying scores from Brock Dahl and Alan Zahui. Jeremy Johnson put up West Fargo's first goal of the game at 6:35 in the first period, but the Roughriders' Casey Fugleberg scored to end the period, giving his team a 3-1 edge.
Zahui scored a hat trick for the Roughriders and Jordan Love scored twice.
Dusty Jonasson finished with a goal and two assists while Johnson and Sand also scored for the Packers.
West Fargo also had a game Tuesday, Dec. 15, on the road against Grand Forks Central. The results were not available for this edition of the Pioneer. The Packers play again on Saturday, Dec. 19, at home against visiting Fargo South at 7:30 p.m. The Bruins were unbeaten as of Tuesday.
Girls hockey blanks Devils
Lake to stay undefeated
The Packers girls hockey team improved to 5-0 on the season after traveling to Devils Lake on Friday, Dec. 11, and handing the Firebirds a 6-0 loss.
Pacing West Fargo was senior forward Kelsey Kloos who scored three times against winless Devils Lake. Katlyn Springer also scored for the Packers, while Kacie Johnson racked up two goals and two assists. Kaylee Lothspeich had three assists.
The Packers offense was relentless, rattling off 47 shots on Devils Lake goalie Kelsey Oppegard. West Fargo's Andrea Klug had 14 saves for the night.
The Packers play host to Dickinson on Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Lady Midgets have yet to win a game this season.
Wrestlers march on
With a dual win Thursday, Dec. 10, at Devils Lake and a first-place finish at the Grand Forks Sertoma last weekend, the Packers wrestling team is quickly becoming a regional force to be reckoned with.
"It feels good to get off to a good start," said Kayle Dangerud, West Fargo wrestling coach.
Good start indeed.
At the dual in Devils Lake, the Packers won easily 66-4 against a thin Firebirds squad. Out of 14 possible matchups, six were decided by forfeit and two (119 and 125) were open. West Fargo's only loss came at 145 when Brock Davidson beat Curtis Crowe 11-3. Otherwise, the Packers pinned the other four sets.
At the Sertoma, West Fargo was looking for redemption. In the 20 years the Packers have competed in the tournament, it has finished runner-up eight times.
Perham had successfully defended its title for four years; West Fargo ended its reign.
One of the highlights for the Packers during the Sertoma was Tom Kuehn, who managed to win every match at 125.
"He beat the No. 2 and No 4 ranked kids in Minnesota AA and pinned the No. 3 in North Dakota," Dangerud said. "It really has to boost his confidence and just proves that he belongs with these guys and can compete with the best guys in the state."
Dangerud thinks there are many factors that are working in West Fargo's favor this season, but points to one overlying cause in particular.
"We were really young last year, so a year of experience helps immensely," he said.
Having several top-ranked wrestlers such as Scot Schiller and Tyler Lehman also has helped to boost morale and optimism.
"The guys are working really hard right now," he said. "More than anything, they don't want to disappoint each other."
Still, the Packers aren't perfect. "We definitely have things we need to work on," Dangerud said. "We have high goals this year. Even though we're wrestling well right now ... we have better things in store for our team."
The Packers head out of town once again this weekend, traveling to the Rochester Christmas Tournament on Dec. 18-19.
"That's one of the toughest tournaments in the region," Dangerud said. "We'll have our work cut out for us."
Boys swimming and diving
team starts season with win
The defending state champion West Fargo boys swimming and diving team didn't let off from last season's success, taking first place in Saturday's West Fargo Quadrangular with 625 points.
Trailing by 65 points was Fargo North, followed by Robbinsdale-Armstrong and Grand Forks.
The Packers placed in the top three 14 times, which included eight first-place finishes.
Pacing West Fargo was Jake Weible, who took first place in both the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke, while also racing in the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay first-place teams. Ethan Doll racked up first place finishes in both the 200 individual medley and 500 freestyle and swam alongside Weible in the 400 freestyle relay.
The Packers stay in Fargo again this weekend as they will participate in the Fargo North Pentathlon on Saturday, Dec. 19, beginning at 10 a.m.