WEST FARGO - Gracie Lingle says she was very anxious entering Saturday's North Dakota state high school girls swim meet. It was evident in the 200-yard individual medley, when she plunged into the pool before the race official said go.
“I’ve had a lot of anxiety," she said. "Everything was overwhelming me.”
Luckily for Lingle and her Fargo Davies teammates, that would be the lone blunder of the day for the decorated junior.
Lingle rallied for a win in the 200 IM, and also took second in the 100 freestyle, leading the Eagles to a third-place score of 236.5 points at Saturday's state event held at the Hulbert Aquatic Center.
As expected, Bismarck Century captured a fourth-straight state title with ease, winning seven events and finishing with a score of 400. Minot was second with 281.
Trailing at the midway point of the 200 IM, Lingle took the lead on lap three and barely staved off a charging Rylie Webb of Minot. Lingle finished in 2:08.24, just 0.27 seconds faster than fellow All-State selectee Webb.
A two-time defending champion in the 100 free, Lingle once again captured First-Team All-State honors in the race, but had to settle for second on the leaderboard to Century's Lexi Duchsherer, who's time of 51.60 edged Lingle's finish of 52.29.
Though she admits to be a nervous wreck leading into big races, Lingle says all her anxiety disappears, and a much different side to her personality takes shape afterwards.
“To calm myself down, I like listening to music and dancing around," said Lingle, who was seen doing just that moments after her final race. "(My personality) is jumping around, dancing, singing out loud, that kind of stuff. I’m going to be doing that tonight.”
She may have plenty of company on the dance card, as the Eagles got a huge scoring boost by grabbing three of the top four spots in the diving competition.
Madison Hischer captured first place with a score of 408.80, while teammate Isabelle Chambers scored 399.60 to earn the runner-up spot. Mya Winjum, the event's defending champion, took fourth with 391.80.
Hischer, a freshman who also earned First-Team All-State honors, said there was no secret recipe for how she went about capturing her first-place score.
“I just went out and tried my hardest," she said. "Every year I just go out and try my hardest. If it’s first place, second or third, whatever it is, I’m happy with it.”
A week after capturing its first East Region championship, West Fargo Sheyenne added its best-ever finish at state, taking fourth with a score of 220.5.
Greta Bellas, who led for the first seven laps of the 500 free, ended the night on the All-State First-Team, finishing the race third in 5:19.36.
Tierney Howell took home Second-Team All-State Honors and had the team's best finish in the 100 butterfly, clocking in at 1:00.29.
Though his club didn't place as high as it did at last weekend's regional, Mustang Coach Erich Richardson didn't see anything disappointing about Saturday's finish.
“Regardless of how points and team places and all that kind of stuff works out, we got (a lot) of best times this weekend," Richardson said. "In my eyes, that’s a successful season, in general. If we win or lose, it doesn’t really matter. If the kids get faster, that’s all that really matters.”
Just behind the Mustangs was West Fargo, which edged Grand Forks Red River for fifth place by one point, finishing with a score of 168.
The Packers opened the day strong, as the team of Liv Hettinger, Hannah Potter, Tatum Brooks and Kaytlyn Salter took second in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:50.66.
Hettinger also earned First-Team All-State honors in the 100 backstroke for the second straight year, where she placed third in 58.63.
Chambers, Winjum and Regan Wical all earned Second-Team honors for Davies, as did Fargo South's Katie Iverson.
Elsewhere in the Metro area, Fargo North took 11th with 74 points, South was 13th with 58 and Shanley was 14th with 57.
Team scores: 1. Bismarck Century 400, 2. Minot 281, 3. Fargo Davies 236.5, 4. West Fargo Sheyenne 220.5, 5. West Fargo 168, 6. Grand Forks Red River 167, 7. Williston 164, 8. Dickinson 124.5, 9. Grand Forks Central 122.5, 10. Legacy 80.5, 11. Fargo North 74, 12. Mandan 68, 13. Fargo South 58, 14. Shanley 57, 15. Bismarck 55.5, 16. Jamestown 45.