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Mustangs top Packers in boys swimming and diving dual at season's midway mark

West Fargo and West Fargo Sheyenne swimmers along with fans stand for the national anthem to kick off their meet at the new Hulbert Aquatic Center on Thursday, Jan. 18. David Samson / The Pioneer1 / 3
West Fargo Sheyenne's Zack Bueling cruises to a first-place finish in the 200-yard individual medley at the Hulbert Aquatic Center on Thursday, Jan. 18. David Samson / The Pioneer2 / 3
West Fargo's Alex Walker checks his time after his finish in the 200-yard freestyle at the Hulbert Aquatic Center on Thursday, Jan. 18. David Samson / The Pioneer3 / 3

Jacob Smith didn't know he would need stitches until he was in the emergency room. During a West Fargo Sheyenne boys swimming and diving practice, Smith hit his foot on the top of a wall on a turn and split his foot open.

Smith sat out the following week of practice to recover with seven stitches. But the injury wouldn't keep him from competing in the Mustangs' dual against West Fargo.

Smith still won the 500-yard freestyle, the event for which he's the returning state champion, as the Mustangs defeated the Packers 103-77 on Thursday, Jan. 18, at the Hulbert Aquatic Center.

With his foot wrapped in waterproof bandage, Smith could only push off with one leg and had to start his events in the water rather than getting the diving start.

"Today I think I had an OK swim, and I think it's something I can bounce back from," Smith said. "You get really good at one-leg turns."

Zack Bueling, the returning state champ in the 100 freestyle, won the 100 butterfly in 56.35 seconds, the 200 individual medley in 2:10.81 and helped the Mustangs win the 200 medley relay in 1:44.83.

Mustangs head coach Erich Richardson said he would rather see good races than a winning score at meets. But he knew duals between the Packers and Mustangs, who often practice together, would be competitive.

"We had a lot of kids swimming fast," Richardson said. "They're always going to be motivated when it comes to this meet. They want to beat the Packers and make a statement."

Packers co-head coach Lisa Montplaisir said her team had a handful of new swimmers qualify for the state meet and others qualify for the state meet in new events. Some swimmers, she said, dropped anywhere from one to 20 seconds in their times.

"We're looking ahead to our state lineup already," Montplaisir said. "Each week, we seem to be getting a little bit faster. They believe in the story of where we're going for the season."

Cooper Sahli qualified for state for the first time this season in the 200 individual medley in 2:22.80, finishing in third behind Bueling and Braden Webb of Sheyenne.

Sahli said he enjoyed racing head-to-head against his buddies. He admitted there was plenty of competitive talk exchanged before the races.

"I'm starting to come around," Sahli said. "Working hard at practice this week really helped out a lot. I'm getting a lot faster."

Montplaisir also said she was impressed by Timothy Hulbert's 100 breastroke win in 1:02.99, which Montplaisir believes was good enough to rank in the top two among all times in the state.

Montplaisir thinks the Packers can bring home top-eight finishes at the state meet.

"Happy kids are fast kids," Montplaisir said. "We're starting to look forward to the future."

Smith said he doesn't want to make claims that the Mustangs will win a ton of events at the state meet—which will be at the Hulbert Aquatic Center this year—but he likes how the team performed against the Packers. He said a strong competitive edge will take the Mustangs far.

"I think we all maximized what we could do," Smith said. "It seems like all of our kids are improving."

Richardson said the Mustangs, almost weirdly, cut plenty of time in the dual. He said the ending stretch of the season is when training amplifies in practices which will be tough on their bodies and not much more time will be cut for the next few weeks.

Richardson said that all leads up to the East Region and state meets where the Mustangs hope to follow up on last season in which they brought home three individual state champions. Richardson said he doesn't have to put any expectations on his team. The Mustangs expect strong results themselves.

"We have guys who want to follow in those shoes and who want to win state events again," Richardson said. "They know they've done it before."

West Fargo Sheyenne 103, West Fargo 77

200 medley relay: 1. West Fargo Sheyenne A (Bueling, Vetter, Webb, Ustanko), 1:44.83. 2. West Fargo A (Wohl, Hulbert, Chase, Walker), 1:48.99.

200 freestyle: 1. Walker, WF, 1:56.80. 2. Raimo, WFS, 1:59.61. 3. Moraes, WFS, 2:02.96.

200 IM: 1. Bueling, WFS, 2:10.81. 2. Webb, WFS, 2:13.12. 3. Sahli, WF, 2:22.80.

50 freestyle: 1. Vetter, WFS, 23.58. 2. Ustanko, WFS, 24.34. 3. Kalvoda, WFS, 25.45.

1 meter diving: 1. Martin, WF, 288.50. 2. Kalsow, WFS, 268.55.

100 butterfly: 1. Bueling, WFS, 56.35. 2. Webb, WFS, 56.74. 3. Hulbert, WF, 1:01.84.

100 freestyle: 1. Chase, WF, 53.43. 2. Ustanko, WFS, 54.35. 3. Sailer, WFS, 55.29.

500 freestyle: 1. Smith, 5:16.71. 2. Walker, WF, 5:24.59. 3. Kalvoda, 5:48.17.

200 freestyle relay: 1. West Fargo Sheyenne A (Vetter, Kalvoda, Sailer, Haug), 1:38.85. 2. West Fargo A (Binstock, Sahli, Wohl, Hjelden), 1:43.61.

100 backstroke: 1. Raimo, WFS, 59.74. 2. Smith, WFS, 1:03.40. 3. Wohl, WF, 1:03.49.

100 breaststroke: 1. Hulbert, WF, 1:02.99. 2. Vetter, WFS, 1:06.18. 3. Chase, WF, 1:10.91.

400 freestyle relay: 1. West Fargo A (Binstock, Chase, Hulbert, Walker), 3:46.52. 2. West Fargo B (Hjelden, Sahli, Emerson, Jamison), 3:59.35.

Colton Pool

Pool is a reporter for The West Fargo Pioneer covering city sports and community news. He was the sports editor for The Dickinson Press covering Dickinson State athletics, high school athletics and Southwest Speedway. He graduated from North Dakota State with a degree in journalism and a minor in English. You can reach him by phone at 701-451-5715 or tweet him @CPoolReporter. 

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