UNPRECEDENTED, UNBELIEAVABLE, UNDEFEATED
West Fargo boys swimming and diving coach Marsha Dahl summed up last weekend's North Dakota Class A State Tournament in Mandan thusly: "It was crazy."
The Packers culminated a whirlwind season without a single meet loss along the way, as well their first state meet win since 2009.
Well, sort of.
For the first time in North Dakota prep history, the two-day meet ended in a tie, with East Region counterparts West Fargo and Fargo North sharing the championship crown.
So how does that work as far as the trophy is concerned; joint custody?
"We'll both get trophies," Dahl said, with a laugh. "But we're still going to have to figure out how to march both teams down next year during the parade of athletes."
And in true nail-biting fashion, the outcome of the state tournament didn't unfurl until the last event. When the chlorine finally settled, only four points separated the top four teams.
"This goes down in the books as probably being the tightest meet ever. That's never happened before," Dahl said.
The East Region champion Packers and Spartans each finished with 286 points. Just two points back was defending state champion Minot, and two points behind them was Bismarck Century.
How fitting that, in a year that saw West Fargo and Fargo North battle it out for supremacy the whole way, they would wind up sharing the coveted state championship?
That's just fine with Dahl.
"If we had to share it with anybody, it's really good that it happened with North. They have some amazing competitors," she said. "At state, anything goes. Everyone is fighting, and it just turned out that way."
Another somewhat surprising fact to West Fargo's overall victory is that they did so without garnering a single individual title. That, alone, is a testament to the team's almost uncanny depth of field.
In all, the Packers had seven players who earned All-State honors. Ethan Doll, Nick Huseby, Alex Smestad and Adam Smestad were named First Team All State, while Quentin Hogue, Carson Keller and Ryder Neva were named Second Team All State.
Huseby garnered West Fargo's highest finish after clocking 55.29 seconds in the 100 backstroke for second place. He was slightly more than three second behind winner Obi Obembe of Fargo North, whose 51.96-second finish smashed the 2010 state record of 53.02 seconds held by West Fargo's Jason Weible.
The 100 backstroke ended up being West Fargo's catalyst to its impressive finish. In all, three Packers cracked the top eight spots, as Alex Smestad took fourth and Neva placed eighth.
"We really loaded up in the backstroke, and that just helped out a lot. We got ahead, and it was the only lead we had up to that point," Dahl said.
To make things even more confusing, Dahl said she forgot to write down the scores toward the end of the meet, so when it came down to the final event, the 400 freestyle relay, she had no idea of how close the teams actually were.
"Somebody had to tell me what was going on," she said. "We were mainly concerned about Century, but then North suddenly comes in and wins it and gets 40 points."
West Fargo's 400 relay team of Adam Smestad, Holoien, Huseby and Doll finished fifth at 3 minutes, 19.73 seconds. North screamed to the win in 3:16.76.
Another West Fargo record was broken during the 200 medley relay, as Bismarck finished in 1:38.04 to best the 2009 achievement by 0.18 seconds.
"Records are meant to be broken," Dahl said.
The Packers' relay team of Huseby, Doll, Keller and Alex Smestad took fifth in the event.
In the final relay, the 200 freestyle, West Fargo took third. Brothers Alex and Adam Stmestad, as well as Holoien and Keller swam to a 1:31.80 finish.
Adam Smestad also did well individually, as he placed third in both the 100 freestyle (49.27 seconds) and 200 freestyle (1:46.16).
Keller and Huseby finished less than a half second apart in the 200 individual medley for sixth and seventh place, respectively.
Besides his backstroke effort, Alex Smestad cracked the top spots with an eighth-place finish in the 50 free.
Doll accented his 500 freestyle run with a sixth-place finish in the 100 butterfly.
And Neva did something no West Fargo athlete has done for some time and placed in the diving competition. The senior racked up 349.75 points for sixth place.