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West Fargo girls golf third at East Region

West Fargo's Ashley Bixby tees off during the Eastern Dakota Conference regional tournament Monday, Sept. 26, in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Communications Co.

Two years ago, the West Fargo girls golf team finished sixth at the East Region Tournament. Last year, they were fifth.

On Sept. 26, the pattern continued.

The Packers improved once again to take third overall at the Eastern Dakota Conference championship at Edgwood Golf Course in Fargo. Having not finished higher than fourth during the regular season, it also was the best they'd played all year.

And as far as East Region meets are concerned, third also is the best West Fargo's has placed in at least a decade.

"I'm pretty sure that's the highest we've finished since I've been coaching, and I've been here 10 years," Packers coach Dan Wolf said.

West Fargo put up a team score of 361 to edge Grand Forks Red River by a mere two points. Leading the way as she has all fall was freshman Ashley Bixby, whose 83 put her in seventh place and garnered All-Tournament and All-EDC honors. Last year, Bixby shot an 86 for a share of fourth place.

Fargo Davies took the team championship with 324, and Fargo North was runner-up. Grand Forks Red River's JoDee Wheeler shot a 77 that bested Davies' Kathleen Marsh by one stroke and earned her the overall crown. Wheeler, who averaged 78.9 on the season, was named EDC Senior Athlete of the Year.

While Bixby led her team overall, another Packer grabbed much of the attention as the tournament reached the final stretch.

West Fargo's Lexi Wasem had the fate of several teams in her hands as she worked to finish her round. Red River, West Fargo and Fargo South found themselves in a tie with only the Packer senior left to play.

"South's girl was a few strokes behind, but Red River and Lexi had shot the exact first-nine score," Wolf said. "We already knew if we had to go to the tiebreaker, Red River would beat us."

Wasem needed to best her opponent by at least one stroke, but she did one better.

"She beat her by two," Wolf said.

Wasem shot a 95 to give the Packers a two-point edge for third. Fargo South was bumped to fifth with a 374.

Alongside Bixby and Wasem, the rest of the Packers team rose to the occasion and played their best golf of the season.

Brittany Rheault shot a 91 for a share of 12th place, and Lauren Johnson shot 92 to put her in a three-way tie for 14th.

"I think, for both of them, that was their best round of the year," Wolf said.

In fact, Rheault had not shot a 91 since the East-West Classic in August, and Johnson's 92 was two strokes better than her next lowest score.

Rounding out West Fargo's scores were Sierra Peterson's 109 and McCall Brown's 119.

Wolf is exceptionally pleased with how his team finished in conference play, especially considering there were many questions that needed answering in the start of the season.

"To finish that highly at the regional is exciting for us," he said.

The Packers entered the North Dakota State Tournament on Monday as the No. 3 seed out of the East. While uncharacteristically beautiful weather no doubt made play enjoyable during the two-day tournament, results were not in by the time the West Fargo Pioneer went to press.

West Fargo was hoping to best last year's state finish, in which it placed eighth overall with a team total of 772. But Wolf could not hazard a guess as to how the Packers would stack up to their western counterparts.

"It's and apples and oranges comparison," he said. "But I think our goal is for us to finish in the Top 5. If we can stay where we are as far as being the third team from the east, we'll be happy."