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West Fargo's Ellie Grooters leaves the pack far behind during the 300-meter hurdles Saturday in Wahpeton, N.D., during the North Dakota East Region Track and Field Championships. Michael Vosburg/The Forum

Ty's Take: West Fargo sports highlights galore

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There really isn't time or space for frivolities this week. Tournament season means a lot of news, especially for West Fargo.

So without further ado, here's your regularly scheduled West Fargo wrap-up.

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WF boys track top in EDC, girls second behind Bruins

Last season, the West Fargo girls team stole the show by ending Fargo South's EDC title streak and winning its first conference championship in more than 15 years.

This time, it was the boys turn to shine.

The West Fargo boys team grabbed its first East Region title in school history last week thanks to several standout performances and a balanced attack.

The Packers finished with 182 points, 27 points ahead of runner-up Grand Forks Red River.

Pacing West Fargo was senior Jamison Gehrig, who took first place in both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races with times of 4:24.94 and 9:57.18, respectively. Another Packers standout was junior Shane Hillen, who won the 400 in 49.84 seconds, and ran a leg in the winning 1,600 relay team with Jackson Lahren, Jake Kroke and Shane Siverson.

West Fargo also got a meet title from its 3,200-relay team of Kroke, Tony Schulz, Nate Peterson and Darin Baltezore with a time of 8:32.78.

On the field side, the Packers received back-to-back finishes in the high jump, as James Heinen-Lugert cleared 6-foot-2 for first, and Jordan Bishoff made 6-0 for second. Heinen also got a second-place finish in the long jump with a leap of nearly 20 feet.

The Packers' final first-place finish came in the triple jump, where junior Nicholas Williams beat out second place by more than a foot after soaring 41 feet, 11.25 inches.

On the girls side, the Packers couldn't defend their East Region title, and instead placed second behind Fargo South.

West Fargo's Ellie Grooters showed she certainly has the skills to defend her 100- and 300-meter hurdle state tournament titles. The West Fargo standout took first in both events during the East Region meet, finishing in times of 14.71 and 43.82, respectively. In fact, Grooters' 300 hurdle time was more than five seconds ahead of the runner-up. She also placed second in both the 100- and 300-meter run events.

The Packers 3,200-meter relay team of Christine Baltezore, Jessica Rosenau, Brooke Grooters and Keana Karnopp took first with a time of 10:00.42, a full 10 seconds ahead of runner-up Fargo South.

Sophomore standout Alissa Mears placed third in the 1,600, while Baltezore and Rosenau had a 3-4 finish in the 3,200.

On the field side, Packers senior Maria Brekkestran took first in the discus. Her throw of 116 feet, 2 inches was a full six feet ahead of second place.

Christina Bruenjes proved she will be a competitor to watch during her high school career, as the freshman took first place in the triple jump with a leap of 36 feet, 6.75 inches. She also placed fourth in the long jump with a leap of 15-feet, 9.5 inches.

The Packers now head to Bismarck for the North Dakota Class A state tournament Friday-Saturday.

Girls tennis strong at EDC, now heads to state tourney

Coach Chad Anderson said the West Fargo girls tennis team "had a great weekend" at the East Region tournament in Grand Forks.

The Packers (5-2 EDC, 9-4 overall) wound up taking second in the team competition after falling 5-0 to Grand Forks Red River. To get there, West Fargo defeated Wahpeton 5-0 in the first round and upset Fargo South 3-2 in the semis.

In individual competition, Beth Anderson, Sarina Olson, and Sammie Smith each finished All-EDC.

Anderson, who was selected as one of the finalists for conference Senior Athlete of the Year, finished fourth after falling to the Roughriders' Callie Ronkowski 6-0, 6-1. Olson placed sixth in individual competition, while sisters Cassie and Sammie Smith took fourth in doubles.

The Packers now head back to Grand Forks for the North Dakota state tournament Thursday-Saturday. The No. 2 Packers kick their team competition off Thursday at 2 p.m., by facing the West Region's No. 3-seed Bismarck St. Mary's.

Individual competition runs Friday-Saturday. West Fargo's No. 4-seed Anderson is set to face No. 5 Sarah Muhs of Jamestown. Then, the Packers' No. 6-seeded Olson will take on No. 3 Caitlin Bakke of Bismarck St. Mary's.

In doubles, the No. 4 Smith sisters will compete against Minot High's No. 5 duo of Erin Black and Halie Hall.

Girls soccer battles on

The West Fargo girls soccer team remains in a tight race for fourth place in the EDC, and Red River is nipping at their heels.

At 4-4-2 in the conference and 5-4-6 overall, the Packers are just one point ahead of the Roughriders. West Fargo has just two games left before the state tournament, facing Fargo Shanley on Tuesday (the results of which were not in by press time) and Devils Lake on Friday. They will need to win both or hope Red River has a rough week if they are to earn a state berth.

But no matter what the result, West Fargo coach Jon Melendez thinks this is one of his team's best years.

"Things are going pretty well," he said. "We've been progressing. We're getting better each game ... and creating more opportunities every time."

The Packers split last week, falling 1-0 to South on Tuesday and then shutting out the Firebirds 6-0 on Thursday.

Senior captain Kelsy Kloos sparked West Fargo in the win over Devils Lake, scoring the first two goals, which "were rockets," Melendez said.

If the Packers can stay in the top four in the EDC, they will qualify for the state tournament June 3-5 in Jamestown. But Melendez doesn't want to get his players stressed out about that.

"I don't like to talk to them about it," he said. "I just tell them to go out and do their best."

Odds and ends

• Baseball: The Packers won 7-2, 8-5 over Central last Monday, and split with the Riders 1-4, 5-1 on Tuesday. The EDC tournament is Thursday-Saturday in West Fargo, and the Packers are slated to face Devils Lake at 6:30 p.m. in the opening round.

• Softball: West Fargo continued its winning ways last week, defeating North 13-3 on Tuesday, South 19-1 on Thursday, and Roseau 4-0 and Warroad 2-1 on Saturday. The Packers aren't scheduled to play again until the state tournament June 3 in Minot, where they are to face Minot High in the opening round.

• Boys golf: With a first-place finish at last Monday's Fargo Shanley Invitational, the Packers chipped away at Fargo South's conference lead. The Packers have two regular-season meets left before the EDC tournament June 2 in Wahpeton. They play today (May 26) at the Wahpeton Invitational, before heading to the Fargo Metro Classic on Friday.

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