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"There's one right there!" my friend Jeff Tschetter yelled as he slammed on the brakes and we skidded to a halt. The seat belt across my lap threw a mean sucker punch as I lurched forward from the sudden stop. Jeff frantically pointed, his finger tapping the window like the staccato of Morse code. "Right there!" I was still trying to catch my breath as I pulled the .223 from its sheath and stumbled out the back door of the pickup truck. We were in the middle of Jeff's uncle's pasture.
The Fargo-Moorhead chapter of the National Audubon Society is seeking volunteers to help in its annual Christmas Bird Count. You don't have to be a diehard bird watcher to participate in the CBC, however, which is in its 110th year nationally. Though participants can venture afield to tally bird numbers, they may also keep it simple and watch the action from the comfort of their own home. According to the Audubon Web site, tens of thousands of Americans take part in the count every year, which runs from Dec. 14-Jan. 5 nationwide. The Fargo-Moorhead count will take place Saturday, Dec. 19.
It's roughly two weeks into the winter sports season and, thus far, West Fargo is undefeated. You read that right: West Fargo, as in "the whole shebang." As of press time for the Pioneer, the Packers wrestling and girls and boys hockey teams haven't lost a game. And if boys and girls basketball and boys swimming and diving can start the same way this weekend, there should be no shortage of Packer Pride blaring from the West Fargo bleachers far into the season. Girls hockey on a roll Kicking off the West Fargo winning streak last week was girls hockey, which toppled Fargo North 2-
Last season, coach Barb Metcalf led West Fargo to an 8-8 Eastern Dakota Conference record and the team's first North Dakota State Class A tournament berth in three years. Not bad for her first year at the helm. The Packers were knocked out in the second round, however, falling to Devils Lake by six points. Metcalf said the Packers' goal all along was getting to the state tournament. "We wanted to fuel that energy back into the program," she said.
Last season, the West Fargo boys basketball team clawed its way to the top of the heap, eventually finding itself in the North Dakota state Class A title game. The only thing standing between the Packers and a championship was Mandan, the nearly undefeated West Region champion. That's when it all slipped away as the Braves marched to a 25-14 first-half lead before winning the championship 57-46. Some West Fargo fans and players may have been disappointed, but finishing runner-up in a state with many talented teams is nothing to brush off.
Coach: Greg Limke. Assistant coaches: Dale Olson, Rick Anderson, Jordy Idso. Home opener: 7:45 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11, vs. Bismarck St. Mary's. 2008-09 team record: 13-3 EDC (regular-season champions), 17-8 overall. 2008-09 tournament results: Third place (state qualifier) at EDC tournament. State tournament runner-up. Who to watch: Chase Farkas (jr.) 46.6 field goal percentage, 66.3 free throw percentage, 174 points, 6.96 average points per game, 37 rebounds, 50 assists, 23 steals. Austin Nelson (sr.) 51.0 FGP, 45.5 FTP, 55 PTS, 2.29 PPG, 42 RB, 14 AST, 6 ST.
Is there something in the water in West Fargo? One might think so by looking at the track record of the Packers boys swimming and diving team.
The Packers girls hockey team started off on the right foot. West Fargo began regular-season play Tuesday, Nov. 24, at home against top-tier Fargo South. The Packers dominated the Bruins, winning 5-1 in a seemingly lopsided match. It is the first time since the team's inception in 2007 that West Fargo has won its season-opener. "We've never started with a first-game win before," said Pat Johnson, West Fargo girls hockey coach.
Where has the fall gone? The local news recently reported that the first major snow storm of the winter was about to wreak havoc on the Valley. While some outdoorsmen might view the changing of the season as an end, others see it as a beginning; an opportunity. I say, bring on the white stuff! But don't bust out your ice-fishing poles and auger just yet, there's still plenty of hunting to be had. Some of the best pheasant hunting of the year happens after the first few measurable snowfalls.
The STEM Center in West Fargo has grabbed the attention of North Dakota's top official. Gov. John Hoeven was in town on Tuesday to officially recognize Nov. 24, as STEM Day. "The impact of the STEM school already is being felt," Hoeven said. The biggest example of the center's success was the second-place finish by the STEM team at the recent Bison Best robotics competition in Fargo. The team of sixth- and seventh-grade students competed in a field of 24 regional teams comprised mostly of high-school-aged students.