Ty's take: As winter season gets going, West Fargo starts rolling
It's roughly two weeks into the winter sports season and, thus far, West Fargo is undefeated.
You read that right: West Fargo, as in "the whole shebang." As of press time for the Pioneer, the Packers wrestling and girls and boys hockey teams haven't lost a game.
And if boys and girls basketball and boys swimming and diving can start the same way this weekend, there should be no shortage of Packer Pride blaring from the West Fargo bleachers far into the season.
Girls hockey on a roll
Kicking off the West Fargo winning streak last week was girls hockey, which toppled Fargo North 2-1 on Tuesday, Dec. 1, before hitting the road Friday and Saturday to defeat Minot 5-0 and Williston 5-1 on their home ice.
The Packers (4-0) were led by freshman goalie Andrea Klug. She stopped 37 shots for the week, 19 alone coming against the Magicians. Backup goalie KeerieAnne Bruce also saw some ice time, making four stops against Williston in the third period.
West Fargo's most potent offensive weapon was junior forward Kacie Johnson who racked up nine points overall, of which six were assists. She also scored a hat-trick and had a hand in each West Fargo goal in the game against Williston.
Junior Kaylee Lothspeich and senior Kelsey Kloos also had big weeks. Lothspeich finished with three assists and a goal while Kloos scored three goals and an assist.
Other players scoring for the Packers included Hayley Walsh, Cassie Sorlien, Paige Swanson (twice) and Katlyn Springer. Additional assists came from Britney Yliniemi, Briana Keller and Katelyn Peterson.
West Fargo's next game is on the road again. This time, the Packers head to Devils Lake for a 7 p.m. game on Friday, Dec. 11.
Boys hockey rolls in win
The West Fargo boys hockey team played its first Eastern Dakota Conference game Saturday against Fargo North at the Urban Plains Center.
The Packers came away with a 6-3 win, giving themselves a 3-0 record overall (they started their season two weeks ago on the road, defeating both Bismarck and Bismarck Century).
Momentum shifted to the Spartans in the first period as Nick Brenneman scored nearly six minutes in. Before the period was up, however, the game was tied after West Fargo senior Braden Schmid got the puck past Spartan goalie Nick Schmit.
With two goals from each team in the second period, the game again was tied. Then the Packers busted loose in the third period, taking advantage of Fargo North penalties to rack up three goals.
Senior Dusty Jonasson finished the game with a hat-trick while the Packers' other goals came from Braden Schmid and Derek Sand. Junior Jeremy Johnson had two assists while Jared Cowden, Charlie Torrance, Kyle Shoman and Brandon Tendeland each had one.
The Packers defense kept shots to a minimum and junior goalie Cameron Holland made 13 stops in the game. Schmit, on the other hand, got peppered from the West Fargo offense and saw nearly double the shots, stopping 26.
West Fargo had a game Tuesday, Dec. 8, at home against Grafton-Park River, the results of which were not in when this edition of the Pioneer went to press. The Packers' next game is Saturday, when they head to Grand Forks Red River for a 7:30 p.m. game. West Fargo also has a game Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 7:30 p.m. at Grand Forks Central.
West Fargo Flyers swimmer competes in national event
The West Fargo Flyers' Lexi Halberstadt was one of only three North Dakota swimmers to compete in the AT&T Short Course National Championships from Dec. 3-5 in Federal Way, Wash.
Halberstadt, who also swims for Fargo Shanley, competed in a field of top athletes from around the world.
"This meet kind of takes place of the Olympic trials during non-Olympic years," said Jeff Steele, Flyers swimming coach.
The other North Dakota swimmers were Minot's Dagny Knutson and Bismarck Century's Cassandra Walth.
Though Halberstadt didn't make it past the preliminaries in her three events, she still placed in the middle of the pack. In the 50 freestyle, she finished 63rd with a 23.99. Halberstadt also was 48th in both the 100 and 200 butterfly, finishing with times of 56.82 and 2:05.20, respectively.
Halberstadt was "a little star-struck," Steele said, but it still "was a great experience."
Wrestlers don't disappoint
Coming into the season, West Fargo was slated to be one of the top teams in North Dakota.
After defeating Fargo Shanley 70-10 in a dual Thursday, Dec. 3, and taking first place with 256 points at the Dan Unruh Tournament in Wahpeton, N.D., on Dec. 4-5, it looks like the Packers are living up to the hype.
West Fargo was heavily favored to win against the Deacons, who are coming back to the mat after a short hiatus. Fargo Shanley's varsity team had to forfeit six weight classes Thursday because of their small roster.
Still, the Deacons managed to get two wins. In the 140 bout, Anthony DeLeon beat West Fargo's Ransi Thomas 10-1 by major decision, and in heavyweight, Conner McGovern pinned the Packers' Zach T. Vetter. Vetter, who wrestled 171 last season, stayed competitive even though his foe outweighed him by more than 100 pounds.
At the 16-team tournament in Wahpeton, West Fargo grabbed first place by a wide margin, beating out second-place Frazee by 63 points. The Packers accrued first-place finishes from Eric Lehmann (171), Tyler Lehmann (189) and Scott Schiller (215). West Fargo also racked up points from two second places, five third places, one fourth place and one fifth place.
One of the most impressive Packer runs came from freshman Preston Lehmann in the 160 bracket. Preston won his opening bout with a pin in 2:10 against Border West senior Joe Stueve and then lost by a 17-4 major decision to Breckenridge's Stephen Erlandson. This bumped Preston down to the third-place bracket, where he proceeded to pin his way to the final bout. There, he again faced Erlandson, but this time Preston pinned the sophomore in 4:08.
Two-time North Dakota state champion Schiller and two-time Minnesota state champion Tyler Lehman also pinned all opposition on their way to first-place finishes in 215 and 189, respectively. Tyler had one of the fastest falls in the tournament, pinning Grand Forks Central's Seferino Hernandez in 0:22. Schiller also had one of the quickest pins, dropping Border West junior and No. 4 seed Billy Connelly in 0:42.
Wrestling fans will have to keep their gas tanks full for a while, because West Fargo doesn't have another home meet until Jan. 2. This week, the Packers head up to Devils Lake for a 7 p.m. dual Thursday, Dec. 10. Then they're off to the Grand Forks Sertoma at Central High School from Dec. 11-12.
Tyler Shoberg is Sports Editor of the Pioneer. He can be reached at 701-451-5717 or firstname.lastname@example.org.