Tom Mix, Published February 27 2013
Bjorlie leads way to state meet for Spartans
Bjorlie, a 5-foot-10 junior, is in the midst of his most productive year in the pool. That success has been a carryover from a solid cross country season in which Bjorlie finished fourth at state and won the Eastern Dakota Conference meet.
This winter, Bjorlie has made waves and left the competition in his wake. The Spartans’ standout won both the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle during the EDC boys swimming meet last Saturday and also was a member of North’s championship 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams.
“This has been my best year,” Bjorlie said. “I try to keep improving each year and keep building off of that.”
Bjorlie owns the fastest state-qualifying times in the 50 and 100 freestyle events entering the state swimming and diving meet set for Friday and Saturday at the Bismarck State College Aquatic and Wellness Center.
“Our team has come to rely on him a lot, especially in those relays,” North head coach Dick Fisher said. “He is a very versatile swimmer and it worked out this year for him to concentrate on the 50 and 100 freestyle.”
Bjorlie’s best time in the 50 freestyle is 22.29 seconds and has a time of 49.45 in the 100. Bismarck Century’s Zach Grosz is close behind him in both events.
In addition to cross country, Bjorlie also runs distance events on North’s track and field team in the spring. But when it comes to swimming, Bjorlie is wired to be a sprinter.
“I thought about swimming distance before, but it is quite different,” Bjorlie said. “When I first started swimming, my main events were the sprints. In cross country, I just think differently.”
Bjorlie finished seventh at state in the 100 last season and swam on North’s 400 freestyle relay that won the state championship. The other three swimmers on that relay were seniors Obi Obembe, Matt Wenzel and Sean Rider.
The Spartans tied with West Fargo for the team championship a year ago and with their experienced group of seniors lost to graduation, this year’s North squad had to adjust.
“We graduated a lot of points from the state meet last year,” Fisher said. “We have had a lot of guys slide into those positions and in some cases it was the younger brothers of those seniors. Palmer Obembe and Ben Wenzel have both emerged along with Tanner.
“They have become the new crop of guys that we rely on.”
Fisher said Bismarck Century and Minot will be the favorites in the team race this weekend. North and West Fargo will be neck and neck as team contenders from the East.
“Everyone will have to be on and do their part for the team,” Bjorlie said. “We are going to need everyone’s top performances.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter
Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562