The recently released preseason coaches' poll pegs the defending East Region champion West Fargo wrestling team to finish first in both their conference and Class A.
A lofty goal, indeed, but certainly not unobtainable; in 2010 the Packers took their first state dual championship and last year they finished third.
With a season that does not finish until mid February, that leaves the Packers a lot of time to prove the polls wrong or right.
Looking too far into the future, however, is never a good idea.
"They have high goals, but we need to focus. We want them concentrating on their next opponent," West Fargo coach Kayle Dangerud said. "We have a talented team this year, and our goal is to outwork our competition."
The Packers have two big wins under their belt already. Their season began with a 41-29 conference dual win over Valley City last Tuesday. Then during the weekend, West Fargo finished with 226 points to take first place out of 14 teams at the annual Dan Unruh Invitational in Wahpeton.
A veteran Packer also hit a major milestone.
Preston Lehmann picked up his 100th career pin in the dual against the Hi-Liners, defeating Wyatt Bjornson in the 182-pound bout. Lehmann, a junior, is a returning conference and state champion in 171 pounds.
"To get 100 wins is an accomplishment, so 100 pins is awesome," Dangerud said.
Lehmann also pinned Casey Goodhart, of Sisseton, S.D., at 5 minutes, 28 seconds in the 182-pound championship match in Wahpeton. He was one of four Packers to place first, helping them to a 36-point advantage over second-place Frazee, Minn.
Freshman Jordan Shearer won the 113-pound match by forfeit, while his seventh-grade brother, Jesse Shearer, took second at 106 pounds. Other top finishers include Trevor Kringlie (first place, 120 pounds), Weston Dobler (first, 132), Kyle Kragnes (second, 145), and Miles Scholl (second, 170).
The Packers have another busy week ahead. On Thursday, they head to Devils Lake for a dual beginning at 7 p.m. Then Friday, West Fargo faces Jamestown at 3 p.m. in the first round of the two-day Grand Forks Sertoma Dual Tournament.
Competition will be fierce in the upcoming months, and Dangerud said to keep an eye on tough EDC competition from Valley City, Grand Forks Central and Fargo Davies.
"It will be interesting to see how everything shakes out," he said.
Boys hockey falls to 1-3
The West Fargo boys hockey team hit another bump in the ice after a close home loss to Fargo North on Friday.
The Packers, who are currently winless in the conference, dropped to 1-3 overall and are sitting in sixth place in the East Region.
The Packers' struck first against the Spartans when Dexter Guidinger found the net at 8:40 in the first period. Less than four minutes later, sophomore Tyler Berginski scored a power play goal to give West Fargo a 2-0 lead after the first period.
But it was all North (1-1 EDC, 3-1 overall) after that, as they scored three unanswered goals to end the game. While Spartan goalie Nick Schmit made seven saves in the first period, he only had to stop eight for the duration of the game.
On the other hand, West Fargo goalie Kyle Olson was riddled with shots, stopping 14 in the second period alone, and finishing with 32 saves on the night.
The Packers took on Grafton-Park River (1-1, 3-2) on Tuesday, but results were not in by the time this edition of the Pioneer went to press. They play again on the road Saturday at 7 p.m. at Grand Forks Red River (1-0, 1-0).
Girls hockey downs Dickinson
The undefeated West Fargo girls hockey team picked up its second win of the season on Friday, a 10-0 thumping over Dickinson.
Hayley Walsh got the scoring run going less than two minutes into the game. She netted a hat-trick when all was said and done. Kelly Krahn and Rachel Monkman tallied two goals apiece.
The Packers took on Grand Forks (1-2) on Tuesday, but results were not in by press time. They play again Friday at 7:30 p.m., as hosts to Bismarck (1-0).