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Swimmers finally defeat Minot

Minot's decade-long reign as the top boys swimming team in the state finally came to an end Saturday when the Packers won the Minot Invitational.

In doing so, West Fargo became the first team other than Minot to win the esteemed invite, which annually features nearly every team in the state.

Minot is also the 10-time defending state champion, and the Packers won't see the Magicians again until the state meet in Grand Forks, March 6-7.

But for now, the Packers can revel in the fact that they have finally toppled powerhouse Minot, and they left nothing open to question in doing it. West Fargo took the invite title with 427.5 points to second-place Minot's 352.5.

The Packers may have only won two of the meet's 12 events, but once again it was their outstanding depth that saw them through.

"It's really exciting, because we're finally out there getting to swim and show everybody what our team has, rather than just hearing about it or having people talk about us," said Packers coach Marsha Dahl. "They say West Fargo is the team to beat. We've seen a steady rise the past 10 to 12 years. There are a lot of kids that are really excited about it. It's really a fun thing for this group of kids."

Despite the historical victory, the consensus is that West Fargo swimmers aren't getting overconfident. They know there's still work to do.

"I like how it all turned out, but things can still change," said Packer senior Eric Benson. "We all have our sights set really big now. We have to keep working."

The Packers finished a close fourth in the 400 free relay, the last event of the Minot Invite. West Fargo was well ahead of the competition and guaranteed the win going into the relay, but the Packers left nothing to chance. They poured it on right to the end.

"We knew we had it going into the relay, but we wanted to finish it out strong," said senior Zach Cormican, who joined Benson on that Packer A relay team.

Like his fellow veteran swimmer, Cormican knows a state title is far from in the bag. The undefeated Packers still have six competitions to swim before the state meet.

"Yeah, I'm thinking about state, but I don't like to think too far ahead," said Cormican. "Even during the meet people were saying, 'we can do this,' and I was saying, 'take it as it comes; (bad) things can still happen.' I don't want to get too overconfident. I don't like saying things and not going through with them."

Minot has been so dominant in high school swimming for so long that even non-Packer fans are rooting for the Packers, Dahl said.

"We have a solid team," said Dahl. "It's a lot of fun to watch them."