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Tom Mix, Published October 22 2012

North girls swimming team making a splash

Fargo - There is a banner that hangs on the wall of the Fargo North High School swimming pool that has the year 1977 listed on it.

That happens to be the last time the North girls swimming and diving team won a North Dakota state title, but the 2012 Spartans squad appears to be in good position to make a serious run at adding to that banner.

North is 9-0 in duals this fall and has placed first at all five of the swimming invitational meets it has participated in.

“They are really focused and have their minds set on doing a lot of big things this fall,” North head coach Talia Butery said. “That has been driving them all season.”

The Spartans have won their duals by an average margin of 82.6 points and host West Fargo at 5:30 p.m. on Friday for their final regular-season competition.

Senior captain Emily Roche, who swims the 100 butterfly, 50 freestyle and the 200 medley relay, said North’s team chemistry has been key.

“Our team gets along really well, which is a big part to our success,” Roche said. “We have great practices and have worked hard all season.”

Roche has posted season-best and state-qualifying times in the 50 freestyle (25.35 seconds) and the 100 butterfly (59.94).

Roche’s younger sister Ellie – a sophomore – is a two-time defending state champion in the 100 breaststroke. Ellie Roche’s best time this season in that event is 1:09.24 set at the Bismarck Invitational on Sept. 15.

“She is an extremely versatile swimmer,” Butery said of Ellie Roche. “We can put her in any event and she can race just about anybody.

“It is really fun to have her on the team. You can tell by her races that she has fun swimming and loves everything about it.”

On Nov. 3, the Spartans will attempt to successfully defend their 2011 Eastern Dakota Conference team championship at the EDC meet at Fargo Davies.

Like all its other accomplishments this fall, North has been steadily working toward putting in strong performances at EDC.

“I think the key has been at the beginning of the year we had our goals set out,” Ellie Roche said. “We knew what we wanted to do and we knew we had to stay together as a team. We are all really close and have a good time.”

The state swimming and diving meet is set for Nov. 9-10 at the Bismarck Aquatics Center. The Spartans finished runner-up at state a year ago to Bismarck Century and have five total second-place finishes since 1977.

“It is definitely one of our goals,” Emily Roche said of performing well at state. “We would love to win state, but we are just working towards that and are hoping for the best.”

Contributing to the Spartans’ cause has been senior captain Carley LeDoux, who swims the 100 breaststroke and 500 freestyle. She has state-qualifying times of 5:32.95 in the 500 freestyle and 1:10.71 in the 100 breaststroke.

“We have a lot strong swimmers on this team,” LeDoux said. “We have great coaches and the practices have been going very well this year.”

Senior Ashley Wiebe has registered scores of 321.90 points on six one-meter dives at the Metro Invite on Sept. 22 and 368.40 points on 11 one-meter dives at the West Fargo Invitational on Oct. 6.

Freshmen Leann Mengelkoch has state-qualifying times in the 100 breaststroke (1:13.14) and the 200 freestyle (2:03.19).

Junior Madilyn Derby has raced to season-best times of 1:01.39 in the 100 backstroke and 1:01.42 in the 100 butterfly, both being qualifying her for the state meet.

“It has been going fantastic,” Derby said. “Individually, I’m doing better than last season, but the team has been amazing.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562