Bruins, Spuds aim to improve
Even with nearly 100 swimmers between them, the girls teams from Fargo South and Moorhead were, surprisingly, nowhere near pool capacity of 180 Thursday. Then again, the two most populous high schools in the metro area haven't combined for the ki...
Even with nearly 100 swimmers between them, the girls teams from Fargo South and Moorhead were, surprisingly, nowhere near pool capacity of 180 Thursday. Then again, the two most populous high schools in the metro area haven't combined for the kind of success one might expect, either.
Since 1979, the Bruins have won one region title, while the Spuds have claimed a single section championship. Each finished fifth in their respective pre-state meets last year.
But now, both teams feel they've turned a corner: the Bruins in terms of establishing a base of young, involved athletes, the Spuds by "putting more heart into our swimming" as senior co-captain Beth Singleton put it.
"In swimming, you don't need the numbers," fifth-year South coach Deanna Tietz said. "At South there's so many other activities to be in, it depends on who's going to go out for what."
That's part of the problem: How do you build tradition in a building - and a fall season - saturated with it?
The South girls golf team has won seven consecutive North Dakota state championships. The volleyball team - which only recently replaced the juggernaut girls basketball program as a fall sport - has claimed two Class A titles since 1997. The surging cross country team is ranked fourth in the state.
In Moorhead, the volleyball team has been to five state finals. The soccer team has won three consecutive section titles. The cross county program has taken three team section titles and one individual state title since 2000. Plus, the boys swimming squad, also coached by Pat Anderson, has earned three section titles since 2001, finished in the top 10 at the state meet four of five years and hasn't lost a dual in that span.
Of all the possible comparisons, none irk the Spuds girls swimmers more than the latter. Anderson, meanwhile, doesn't have much of an answer for why he hasn't been able to duplicate the almost-immediate turnaround he accomplished with the boys, who had never won a section title prior to his arrival.
It's certainly not for lack of effort.
"We don't like it when he compares us to the guys in a bad way," senior Briana Walicski said. "He knows that we all hate that. It could be motivation. He knows how to push our buttons and make us go."
He's working on it.
South won eight of 12 races to beat the Spuds 97-89 on Thursday.
Both teams are incredibly young - three races were without any seniors - and only time will tell if they truly have made the turn.
"The last few years we've kind of been struggling to keep up with things," South's Tietz said, "and now we have a lot of seventh, eighth and ninth graders that are really going to step up. They're kind of surprising me along with everyone else with what they can do."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Terry Vandrovec at (701) 241-5548