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Eric Peterson, Published November 05 2011

Roche, Spartans swim to championship

FARGO – Ellie Roche couldn’t hear the roar of the crowd as she was swimming the anchor leg of the 400-yard freestyle relay Saturday. However, the Fargo North freshman sensed something.

“When you are swimming, you don’t really hear much, but I could definitely feel the excitement,” Roche said.

Roche and the Spartans took first place in that relay, the final event at the Eastern Dakota Conference girls swimming championships at Fargo Davies. That relay victory clinched a conference title for the Spartans, who rallied past West Fargo in dramatic fashion.

North finished with 509 points to edge West Fargo, which ended with 507. The Packers had a four-point lead entering the final event of the meet.

“That’s pretty amazing,” said Roche, who also won two individual events. “It was a really close meet and it was fun the whole time. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

West Fargo was the defending EDC champion and had built a 33-point lead through nine of 12 events. North, however, won the final three events to rally for the team victory.

“I think it’s the first time in the history of this meet that two teams have scored over 500 points,” West Fargo head coach Marsha Dahl said. “I’m proud of our girls and I’m happy for North because they really have a tournament team. They’ve got a good lineup and I think they will do well at state.”

North sophomore Maddie Derby took first place in the 100 backstroke, which was the 10th event. Derby’s teammate senior Connor Hoff took second in the 100 backstroke. West Fargo led North 426-411 at that point.

The Spartans made things tighter after Roche took first place in the 100 breaststroke, which was the second to last event. Roche swam a pool record 1 minute, 8.31 seconds in the 100 breaststroke.

West Fargo held a 473-469 lead heading into the final event.

“We knew we had to go big or go home with that West Fargo team,” said North coach Talia Butery, who was named EDC coach of the year. “We knew if we didn’t win that relay we weren’t going to win anything.”

North had a strong first three legs to its 400 freestyle relay, giving Roche a solid lead when she entered the pool for the final leg.

Sophomore Danica Dutt, who also won two individual events, was the final swimmer for the Packers.

“My best swimmer likes to race and go last and we just couldn’t catch up after that big lead,” Dahl said. “I looked at my assistant and I said ‘We are not going to beat this (North) relay today’ because they just got too far of a lead and those things happen.”

North finished the 400 freestyle relay in a time of 3:41.02 to set a new EDC record in that event.

“That’s always are favorite relay,” Roche said. “We’re always super excited for it. It’s always the best part of the meet.”

Butery was proud of the way her relay team responded against a talented West Fargo relay team.

“They had beaten us every time we swam against them in that relay this year,” Butery said. “The girls really wanted to leave the meet with a really good feeling. … We’ve had a really good season and now we hope we are at our peak going into state.”

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Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

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