Dickinson High boys swimming and diving team looks for progress at West Regional meet

Without a single senior on the team and being in its first year as an independent program, Dickinson High boys swimming and diving has a very clear goal in mind: improve.The next step toward that goal will be the Midgets' first West Region meet s...

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Legend Jankowski, a seventh-grader on the Dickinson High boys swimming and diving team, launches himself into the water at Wednesday’s practice at the West River Community Center. (Press Photo by Colton Pool)

Without a single senior on the team and being in its first year as an independent program, Dickinson High boys swimming and diving has a very clear goal in mind: improve.
The next step toward that goal will be the Midgets’ first West Region meet since diffusing its co-op with Williston.
Dickinson competes in the West Region meet at 9:30 a.m. today at the Bismarck State College Aquatics and Wellness Center with the intention of breaking plenty of personal records.
“We’ve got a young team, so we’ve got a little bit of a learning curve that way,” Midgets head coach Mike Sullivan said. “The kids are helping each other pick up the strokes and different things, so that’s been helping out quite a bit. We’re just trying to get a couple more kids going into regionals, which would be a big pick-me-up.”
Sullivan said what’s most important is that his young team sets plenty of personal records - a mark of improvement. That, he said, would be a good place to build the program after its first year.
It has been a challenge this season, having fewer athletes as a result of the dissolved co-op.

Still, the team has more than accepted the situation.
“I think they’ve embraced that it’s their own team,” Sullivan said. “Williston’s not necessarily leaning on us, and we’re not leaning on them. … These kids have come a long way in trying to fill some pretty big shoes with a couple of kids we did graduate this year.”
A leader throughout this season has been Jacob Ellerkamp.
The junior qualified for the North Dakota state meet on March 4 in Bismarck in every individual swimming event except the 100-meter backstroke and 100 butterfly - which means he can compete at state in the 200 freestyle, 200 individual medley, 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle and the 100 breaststroke.
Dickinson seventh-grader Legend Jankowski and Steven Bratten also qualified for state.
“We’ve made a lot of improvements since that first meet,” Ellerkamp said. “Our guys have got some good time drops going on. It’s good stuff.”
Ellerkamp said he always felt like a leader on the team despite the Midgets’ lack of a senior this season.
“We’re getting used to it and building our own team,” Ellerkamp said. “I think we’ll be good. It’s tough at first. We had to train some new guys in.
“It’s a young team. I know I won’t be here for it, but a lot of youngsters are there. So in the future, they’ll be pretty good.”
One of those youngsters is Jankowski. In his first year of varsity competition, Jankowski qualified for state in the 500 freestyle.
“It feels amazing to me,” he said. “There are only a couple seventh-graders in the state who have qualified, and I’m one of them. That feels good.”
For those who didn’t qualify yet, Sullivan said, he hopes they can find out how they measure up compared to the rest of the West Region.
“Hopefully we have more people qualify,” Jankowski said. “We’ve just got to swim our races and do well.”

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