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The picture on the wall in the West Fargo High School halls is more than two decades old, sandwiched between two wrestling team photographs. The framed print of the 1984 West Fargo girls cross country team shows the last time the Packers won the ...
The picture on the wall in the West Fargo High School halls is more than two decades old, sandwiched between two wrestling team photographs.
The framed print of the 1984 West Fargo girls cross country team shows the last time the Packers won the Eastern Dakota Conference title - that is until this fall.
"We all pushed ourselves more than we thought we could," said West Fargo eighth-grader Alissa Mears, who finished second at the EDC championships two weekends ago to spark the Packers to the team title.
"I was surprised," West Fargo senior Cassie Sayler said. "We were hoping for second, but our younger girls stepped it up. I was so happy, I hurried up and called my track coach."
With one senior in its top six runners, youthful West Fargo appears primed to compete for the top spots in Class A girls at the North Dakota state cross country meet Saturday in Minot.
The Packers have built momentum heading into the state meet, beating favored Fargo South at EDC. South was ranked third in the Class A girls coaches' poll before the conference meet. The Bruins are now rated No. 4 in the final poll. West Fargo, which was unranked, moved ahead of them into the third spot.
"It's always fun to beat South because they are always a dominating team," Packers sophomore Ellie Grooters said. "On paper, it seemed like we could do it. Sometimes that is more intimidating, knowing that you can do it."
Two seventh-graders, an eighth-grader (Mears), a freshman and a sophomore (Grooters) are among the Packers' top six runners, who all finished in the top 14 at the conference meet.
Seventh-graders Christine Baltezore and Leah Hermanson and freshman Britny Bucholz are out for cross country for the first time.
Those three newcomers had strong performances at EDC. Baltezore placed fifth, Bucholz was ninth and Hermanson finished in 12th place.
"Our whole team has improved as the season has gone on, but those three in particular have come a long way," said West Fargo coach Joe Bailey, in his seventh season as head coach.
"That is what we didn't know about from the beginning of the year. I knew they were good runners, but I didn't want to put too much pressure on them."
The race is on for a state title
Below are start times for all four races at the North Dakota state cross country meet, which is Saturday at Minot's Souris Valley Golf Course:
Class B girls 1 p.m.
Class A girls 1:30 p.m.
Class B boys 2 p.m.
Class A boys 2:30 p.m.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.
Peterson's prep sports blog can be found at www.areavoices.com Front of the Pack Eric Peterson 20071025