Century

Team-wise, the most drama today's West Region swimming meet can produce is who finishes second.

Century's powerhouse lineup has sliced through all comers again this season, but the battle for the No. 2 spot has many contenders.

Minot, Legacy, Mandan, Dickinson and even Bismarck High's 14-member roster hopes to stake a claim.

"We've always been pretty small at BHS, but we have goals we're shooting for," said co-head coach Emily Poppe. "We're hoping to take half of our team to state. That's something most of the bigger teams aren't able to do."

Today's meet at the BSC Aquatic and Wellness Center begins at 10:15 a.m. with the diving competition. Swimming is slated to start at 1:15.

Century figures to be able to pack the bus full of state-qualifiers led by a Division I recruit. Vanessa Herrmann recently committed to the University of Arkansas. Herrmann won the individual medley and breaststroke last year at state. She's also part of the Patriots juggernaut relay contingent.

Kathy Aspaas, architect of the Century dynasty, is understandably pleased with her team's performance, but was more worried about them surviving the elements Friday night as patrons.

"We've been doing very well, knock on wood," Aspaas said. "There's the football game Friday. They want to support their friends and the players, but as a coach it's kind of like, maybe just stay home, stay warm and watch it on TV. Hopefully everybody gets out healthy."

Along with Herrmann, the Patriots rely on fellow blue-chippers Briana Rittenbach and Carly Palmer, both juniors, plus freshman Lexi Duchsherer.

"When you have four top-notch caliber girls like that you try and make it so they're not in the same event as much as possible," Aspaas said.

The Patriots have plenty of depth as well, a lot of it young. Eighth-graders Isabella Koebele and Sarah Dorrheim have added to their embarrassment of riches.

"We have a lot of flexibility with who swims in what event because we have so many kids that swim year round," Aspaas said. "We're able to have a versatile lineup, but ultimately we're looking for the best lineup."

Despite Century's depth, there will still be plenty of competitive races.

Legacy has shown quality this year with a very young roster. Coach Thomas Wheeling's team has just one junior, everybody else is a 10th-grader or younger.

Of the seniors in the pool today, BHS has one of the best in sprinter MaKenna Kuhn.

"MaKenna was a little disappointed with her times and places at state last year, but she's been swimming great for us this season," Poppe said. "She was already swimming better times in the middle of this season then she was at the end of last year."

Juniors Katie Brodersen and Taylor Pollert also have designs on getting to the finals at state.

Poppe is hoping for a bunch of PRs to carry the Demons into contention.

"Century is a power team. They're kind of at a different level, but we look at ourselves as being one of those teams that can be in there challenging for one of those top 3 or 4 spots," she said. "The WDA meet is always very exciting. It should be a fun day with a lot of great competition."

Reach Tribune sports editor Dave Selvig at (701) 250-8246 or david.selvig@bismarcktribune.com

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