Some high school teams win state championships with a formidable nucleus of blue-chippers, and others win with depth. Normally, the magic formula is a mix of the two.
Century, however, leaned heavily toward the blue-chipper model in capturing its third straight girls swimming and diving championship on Saturday at the Bismarck Aquatic and Wellness Center.
Four swimmers — Vanessa Herrmann, Lexi Duchsherer, Briana Rittenbach and Carly Palmer — combined to produce 227 of Century's 400 points on Saturday. By reaching 400, the Patriots left the rest of the state meet field far in the rear view mirror.
Fargo Davies, the runner-up, tallied 315. Minot with 243.5, Grand Forks Red River with 195 and West Fargo with 174.5 rounded out the top five. Legacy placed 11th with 93.5 points, Mandan scored 90 for 12th and Bismarck finished 14th with 53.
Herrmann, a senior, repeated as the individual medley and breaststroke champion, and swam a leg on two winning relays.
Duchsherer, a freshman, upset defending champion Gracie Lingle of Fargo Davies to finish first in the 50 freestyle, Duchsherer placed second to Lingle in the 100 freestyle, and took a turn on a pair of Century's three winning relays.
Rittenbach repeated as the state backstroke champion, placed third in the 100 freestyle, and contributed to two winning relays. She's a junior.
Palmer, a junior, finished second in the butterfly and finished second as Century turned in a 1-2-3 sweep in the breaststroke. She also swam a leg on two winning relays.
Herrmann's brilliant 60-point day included the outstanding senior award for girls swimming.
"That's about as good as it can get," said Herrmann, who is bound for the University of Arkansas to continue her swimming career.
Herrmann was unable to better her own state meet record time of 1:02.75 in the breaststroke, turning in a 1:02.89 on Saturday to win by more than two seconds. Still, she said the race was a keeper.
"I liked today's time in the 100 breaststroke. I was really happy with that," she said.
Century's sweep of the relays yielded 120 team points, but Herrmann said the value of those races was even greater than the point value indicates.
"All those relays brought the whole team together. Getting another state championship was very exciting," she said.
Saturday's performance brought Herrmann's individual state championship tally to seven. She's a four-time winner in the breaststroke and a three-time individual medley champion.
Duchsherer had the fastest 50 freestyle time coming into the state meet, but Lingle had the best qualifying time by four one-hundredths of a second in Friday's preliminaries. Duchsherer said she thought her win qualified as an upset.
"We knew it could have gone either way," she said. "We were pretty much tied until the flip turn. After that I was ahead and I kept going."
Duchsherer said she'd beaten Lingle once before, but not in high school.
"I believe I won one time before, at the short course state meet last year," she said.
That was in club swimming, while Duchsherer was competing for the Bismarck Aquastorm.
Century's record-setting medley relay team of Rittenbach, Herrmann, Palmer and Duchsherer returned intact, but was unable to match last year's 1:44.81. The Patriots won in 1:45.27.
Duchsherer, who was transferred over from the 400 freestyle relay lineup at the eleventh hour, was the only veteran on the winning 200 freestyle relay team. She competed successfully alongside freshman Paige Keller, sophomore Andrea Frank and junior Gracie Zottnick.
"Our coach (Kathy Aspaas) didn't know if we were going to win it, so she took me from the 400 free relay in a last-second switch," Duchsherer said.
Century swept the relays for the second year in a row, making the Patriot relay teams instant targets. Duchsherer said she enjoys the challenge.
"Every time we win something, the target gets bigger, but I think it's fun that way," she said. "That way you know people are watching you."
Joining Herrmann as a double winner was Grand Forks Central senior distance swimmer Lexi Ljunggren, who triumphed convincingly in the 200 and 500 freestyles.
Ljunggren became a seven-time state champion, garnering her third 200 freestyle title and her fourth in the 500. She said her times (1:51.74 and 5:05.20) weren't what she was shooting for.
"It's not exactly how I wanted it to go, but, still, I'm having fun. I'm really enjoying my senior year and all the memories with my teammates and other swimmers," she said.
Ljunggren, who, like Herrmann, will attend Arkansas, said the 500 is her favorite race.
"I like the 500 because it's about pace. It's a longer race, but it's rewarding at the end," she said.
The meet produced five repeat winners. Herrmann duplicated last year's victories in the individual medley and breaststroke, Rittenbach repeated in the backstroke, Lingle captured her second 100 freestyle title in a row and senior Anna Astrup of Fargo North prevailed again in the butterfly.
The other championship went to sophomore diver Mya Winjum of Fargo Davies.