Over the past three years, Bismarck Century’s Lexi Duchsherer has been unbeatable at the state girls’ swim meet.
Duchsherer, a senior, went out with a bang on Saturday, winning two individual events, swimming on two winning relays and setting two state records as the Patriots claimed their sixth straight state championship at the Bismarck Aquatic and Wellness Center.
Duchsherer has won the maximum 12 state titles over the past three state meets.
“A six-peat is a huge accomplishment for Century,” Duchsherer said.
Especially given the circumstances. The two-day meet was scaled back to one day with no preliminaries and two sessions due to COVID-19. Heated finals were held instead of preliminaries.
“I think it went as well as I expected. It was different this year,” said Century coach Kathy Aspaas, who was named coach of the year following the meet. “The girls handled it well. We had to remind them it was going to be different. They’re excited about how it all ended.”
The Patriots claimed eight state championships and as a team they racked up 413 points to easily outdistance runner-up West Fargo Sheyenne, which finished with 349.
Aspaas said getting off to a good start this season, as opposed to last year when they false-started the first relay, helped take some of the dramatics out of it.
“Knowing what happened last year, we wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again, so we were very conservative on our starts,” said Century coach and state coach of the year Kathy Aspaas. “We figured getting some points was better than getting no points.”
Century did better than that, as Duchsherer anchored the winning 200 medley relay in 1:45.95.
“She did great. She had her mind set on what she wanted to accomplish and some personal-best times, so she’s pretty pleased with that,” Aspaas said.
The Patriots won the first four events in the pool, the last of which was Duchsherer’s record-setting defense of her 50 freestyle title. Her 22.54 bested the 22.91 she posted last year. It was also her most satisfying moment.
“I broke my own state record and did it with a phenomenal time that was faster than I thought I was going to do,” Duchsherer said.
Duchsherer also defended state titles in the 100 freestyle and 400 freestyle relay. She helped the 400 freestyle relay set a state record of 3:29.58, eclipsing the old mark of 3:31.81 by Fargo North in 2014.
Century junior Erin Palmer joined Duchsherer in the winner’s circle four times, including two individual titles. Palmer won the 200 individual medley in 2:05.89 and the 100 breatstroke in 1:02.95. She also swam on the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay, which also included Olivia Schuchard.
Sarah Dorrheim was a three-time winner, twice in relays. She was on the 400 freestyle relay and 200 freestyle relay. She posted a 1:53.49 to win the 200 freestyle.
Two other records fell, including the state’s oldest when Fargo Davies junior diver Madison Hischer set a mark with a score of 479.95 to break the 24-year-old record of 479.05 set by Century’s Molly McDonald in 1996.
West Fargo Sheyenne sophomore Tierney Howell broke the record in the 100 butterfly with a time of. 55.44. The old record had been held by Minot’s Dagny Knutson since 2006.
Despite all that, Aspaas’ most memorable part of the state meet might be the fact that there was one.
“We’re just thankful we got this far into the season,” Aspaas said. “When we started out, we didn’t know if we’d make it one week but we just kept plugging along.”
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