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Ailing girls swimming team surges

West Fargo's Danica Dutt swims during the 200 freestyle Oct. 9 against Fargo North.

The West Fargo girls swimming and diving team continues to be a force in the Eastern Dakota Conference well into the midseason grind.

The Packers have managed to put up impressive numbers at recent meets even while missing players because of illness.

"We've been sick, so we're trying to get healthy," girls swimming coach Marsha Dahl said. "Twelve girls missed the UND Invitational (Oct. 3) and six were gone Tuesday (Sept. 29). We only had one gone yesterday (Thursday, Oct. 8)."

Last week, West Fargo proved just how strong its team could be when healthy. On Oct. 8, the Packers hit the road and dominated at Fargo North 114-72, then returned home on Oct. 9, and handily beat Fargo Shanley 131-51. With a more complete lineup, swimmers were able to focus on their stronger event while also trying something less familiar, Dahl said.

Eighth grader Danica Dutt has proven herself a versatile swimmer. At Fargo North, Dutt placed first in the 200 freestyle (2:07.42) and 100 butterfly (1:00.88), and in West Fargo she grabbed first place in the 500 freestyle (5:32.61) and 100 breaststroke (1:18.36.). She also contributed to 200 medley relay team first-place finishes at both meets.

The Packers have nother strong swimmer in junior Samantha Gunning, Dahl said. "We've been moving her around and we're going to see where she can best benefit her team."

At Fargo North, Gunning led the Packers' 1-2-3 finish in the 100 freestyle by blazing a 59.21. She also placed second in the 100 backstroke, finishing less than half a second behind teammate Chelsea Gentzkow (1:06.17).

Gentzkow, Ashley Kranda and Amy Doll also have contributed much to West Fargo's success. All had top-three finishes in various events during last week's meets.

Dahl has high hopes for her team. "We're shooting to be EDC champs," she said.

Even while West Fargo has dominated much of the season, some strong teams could have the ability to throw the Packers off their game.

"Grand Forks Red River will be tougher in the longer events, but they don't have the numbers or the depths," Dahl said. "Fargo South is a little more rounded and will be tough, too."

The Packers had a rough run-in with the Bruins earlier this season, falling 99-87 in a close matchup Sept. 15.

"They came to swim and we did everything we could to catch up from a 20-point deficit," Dahl said. "That taught us a valuable lesson: we can't get overconfident. We have to be ready for every meet."

At the Minot Pentathlon on Saturday, the Packers will get a peek at their competitions' true strengths. But if West Fargo keeps up the pace they've set, another first-place finish is no dive off the deep end.