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West Fargo Packer boys tennis a long shot for state

It's been a rough year for the Packer boys tennis team. Coach Chad Anderson just hopes his players can salvage something from the season as EDC begins today in Fargo. "When you have a conference tournament, you just never know. There are four very good teams ahead of us, and it'd be very difficult to beat them," said Anderson, who noted the usual shift to a post season format.

The regular season is played with six singles matchups followed by three doubles contests. It all switches to a three-two format starting today, perhaps giving a team like West Fargo a bit of an edge. The Packers are a pretty even team without anyone that really dominates other teams' top players, yet they have several capable players.

Still, that may not be enough to defeat the likes of Grand Forks Red River, Fargo South, Fargo Shanley, Fargo North and Grand Forks Central, all teams that have beaten the Packers this year. The top four EDC tournament finishers qualify for state. The Packers are tied for last place in the conference with a 1-6 record.

Freshman Blake Nelson will be playing singles for the Packers at EDC. He's 13-4 this season at No. 4 singles and will be going up against conference teams' top players in an effort to make the individual state tournament, should the Packers not make it as a team.

"I almost made it last year, so I'm hoping I can make it this year," said Nelson, who credits Anderson's summer coaching for his improvement.

"Basically, I just guess it's my quickness on the court and how fast I can get everything back," he said. "I didn't expect (to play like this), but I started winning and just kept going."

"Probably the best thing (Nelson) does is that he anticipates so well. He's one of those players that knows where the shots are going to go from his opponent," said Anderson. "With his quickness and his athletic ability, he's able to get to that extra ball or hit one more shot that helps him win the point."

Green having good year

The Packer volleyball team picked up a welcome EDC win early last week by defeating Grand Forks Central at home in three sets.

Junior Carissa Becher led the Packers with seven kills and was followed by junior Jill Gustafson's six.

The win puts the Packers in fourth place in the EDC at 1-1, with the conference season starting to get into full swing.

"So far the girls are playing well. It's going to take some time before we start to blend on the court," said West Fargo assistant coach Mackenzie Odden.

The Packers, 8-7 overall, graduated seven seniors from last year's team that went undefeated in the conference regular season for the second year in a row. That streak ended quickly this year as the young team acclimated to varsity volleyball.

"For the most part for this group it's the first time they've played together at the varsity level, and the varsity level is different than sophomore or JV. It's a faster game, but we've improved even from the start of the season," said Odden.

Odden was asked to name a player that's met coaches' expectations and played well so far this season. She quickly mentioned Green.

"She's definitely stepped up her game from what we saw last year to this year," said Odden. "She's definitely a go-to player and a great role model. It's her senior year, and she's showing that it's her year to shine."

Results from Tuesday's matchup at Wahpeton were unavailable before press time. The Packers host Grand Forks Red River tonight.

Two in top five

The Packers had two golfers finish in the top five for the first time in quite a while (for sure the first time this season), as the girls golf team tied for third place at the West Fargo Invite last week.

Freshman Alexis Lennon and eighth-grader Ashley Bixby shot an 85 and an 86 respectively to take fourth and fifth place, pacing the Packers to their best team performance of the year.

Results from the Fargo Shanley Invite earlier this week were not available before press time. West Fargo, consistently the fourth-best team in the conference, competes at EDC in Wahpeton on Monday, where the top four teams advance to state.

Swimmers lose

The Packer girls swimming team lost its first dual since 2007 when it fell to Fargo South last week. The defending conference champions expected to do better, said West Fargo coach Marsha Dahl, who said the l2-point loss will serve as a bit of a wake-up call.

Like most regular season matches, Packer swimmers weren't all competing in their top events. Dahl is constantly switching swimmers around for training purposes, but West Fargo was still favored over the Bruins.

The Packers followed up with a win over Moorhead and swim in the Fargo Quad on Saturday.

Soccer team goes 3-0

The Packer soccer team exploded for 21 goals in its West Fargo Invite last week, winning all three of its games.

West Fargo tied for first place in the invite with the three wins, 12-1 over Jamestown, 3-0 over Minot and 6-1 over Mandan.

Senior Ryne Schaeffer had at least a goal and an assist in each game and finished with a total of five goals and four assists for the invite.

West Fargo, 6-1-3 overall this year, has yet to lose to an in-state team this season. The Packers were second in the EDC at press time and host Fargo North today.

Cross Country

Both West Fargo cross country teams finished in second place at the Bill Jansen Invite in Valley City on Saturday. Bismarck won both the boys and girls competitions of the meet that featured most teams in the state.

Packer senior Jamison Gehrig took fourth for the boys, while freshman Jessica Rosenau was the top girls finisher for West Fargo in ninth place.