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Swimmers invade WRCC for state

Press Photo by Dustin Monke Sam Ellison, 17, of the Mandan Marlins Swim Club competes in the 100-yard individual medley, which he won with a time of 56.41 seconds, during the USA Swimming North Dakota state championships Friday at the West River Community Center.

The West River Community Center was invaded Friday afternoon.

Its occupiers? About 450 boys and girls with goggles and swim caps -- and don't forget their families and fans, moving the number close to 1,000 people at the venue for this weekend's USA Swimming North Dakota state short course championships, which began Friday and continues today and Sunday.

The amount of people who packed into the WRCC swimming pool area to watch Friday afternoon's events opened the eyes of Dickinson High School sophomore Marissa Cerkoney.

"I actually didn't expect this place to be so full," said Cerkoney, who competes for the Dickinson Dolphins swim team. "I've never seen it this crowded before."

"It's like sardines," added Lauren Sneddon, a Dickinson High freshman who also competes for the Dolphins.

The meet is the largest in the short history of the WRCC, which opened in 2004, and the first state function the Dolphins have hosted.

Thirteen club teams -- none are affiliated with schools -- are at the meet and kids from ages 7 to 19 are competing. The West Fargo Flyers have the largest team with 76 swimmers.

Pedro Pereira, the first-year co-head coach of the Dickinson Dolphins, hopes having the meet will help some area children become more interested in swimming.

"It's good for western North Dakota to have something this big in our pool," Pereira said. "Once you have this kind of swim meet going on, it's good for whoever wants to come over and watch it."

Because of the number of participants and fans, the WRCC granted the meet full use of the facilities' basketball and racquetball courts for the weekend.

"They basically let us have the run of the place for three days," Dickinson Dolphins club president Mary Grove said. "The WRCC has just bent over backwards to help us out."

Cerkoney said hosting the meet beats hitting the road for the event and staying in a hotel after a long day at the pool.

"You have the home-pool advantage, and you get to sleep in your own bed at night," Cerkoney said.

There are two sessions today. Competition for the morning session begins at 8:15 a.m. while the afternoon session starts at 1:45 p.m. The Sunday session starts at 2:30 p.m.

"It's going to be a very busy place, no doubt about it," said Dickinson co-head coach Jim Fahy. "It's going to be a great weekend."

Dustin Monke

Monke came to The Dickinson Press in July 2006 as the newspaper's sports editor and was hired as its managing editor in March 2013. During his tenure at The Press, Monke has won multiple awards for sports reporting, feature reporting, column writing, page design and photography. He was a key part of The Press winning the North Dakota Newspaper Association's General Excellence and Sweepstakes awards in 2009 and 2012, and oversaw The Press' Sweepstakes and General Excellence wins in 2014, as well as its national first-place honors for Community Leadership in the Inland Daily Press Association and contributed to the first-place Inland award for Investigative Reporting. As the newspaper's editor, he writes an occasional Sunday column, is a member of The Press' Editorial Board, contributes feature stories and breaking news, designs pages, and oversees the day-to-day operations of the newsroom and editorial staff. In his free time, he enjoys watching sports and action movies, exercises whenever his schedule allows, and spends every minute he can with his wife and son.

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