ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Young swimmers help boost Grand Forks teams' overall numbers

Grand Forks high school swim teams grow from 30 to 40 from last year to this year.

Grand Forks Central swimmer Bella Stockeland competes in the 100 yard butterfly event of the UND Invitational swim meet Saturday afternoon at the Hyslop Aquatic Center. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
Grand Forks Central swimmer Bella Stockeland competes in the 100 yard butterfly event of the UND Invitational swim meet Saturday afternoon at the Hyslop Aquatic Center. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Grand Forks high school swimming coach Bryan Walls also coaches at the youth club level, so he has a good handle on what his numbers will look like year to year.

"We had a lull five or six years ago, and we are starting to see an uptick," Walls said of participation numbers at the youth level. "That's exciting."

Those young club swimmers are now helping Walls' varsity teams, as he has 40 girls out for swimming this fall compared to 30 a year ago.

"I'm optimistic to have a better showing at EDC and state this year," Walls said. "We have a decent group behind (the seventh-graders) so I feel pretty good about the next five or six years."

A talented group of seventh-graders have been led by Grand Forks Central's Marley Uhlir, Gabby Tack and Rainy Bancroft.

ADVERTISEMENT

In a dual with Fargo Davies last weekend, Tack finished third in the 100 butterfly and swam a leg on Central's first-place 400 freestyle relay team. Uhlir finished second in the 100 freestyle and third in the 50 freestyle.

"It's super exciting," Walls said. "We have some awesome work habits and leadership qualities from the older kids, who might not be as talented as some of the swimmers I've had. I'm excited for these younger kids to learn from them."

Since 2003, Grand Forks has produced a state champion in every year except three including last season.

"That was a bitter pill to swallow because I'm a competitive person," Walls said. "Our athletes did the best job they could, and I'm proud of them. But I'm excited to see what we can develop with these younger girls."

Central finished eighth as a team at state last year, while Red River was 17th.

Grand Forks saw its largest participation numbers during Walls' tenure in the 2008-09 season when he had 55.

"Hopefully we can continue to grow and continue to improve," Walls said.

Girls swimming at a glance

GF Central

Coach: Bryan Walls

ADVERTISEMENT

2020 finish: Eighth at state.

Key returners: Jr. Madeline Elseth (fifth at state in 200 freestyle, fifth at state in 500 freestyle), soph. Morgan Uhlir (21st at state in 100 freestyle), sr. Bella Stockeland (14th at state in 200 freestyle, 20th at state in 100 freestyle), jr. Megan Schill (23rd at state in 200 freestyle, 34th at state in 500 freestyle), soph. Gabbie Evanson (29th at state in 500 freestyle).

Top newcomers: Seventh-grader Gabby Tack, seventh-grader Marley Uhlir, seventh-grader Rainy Bancroft, eighth-grader Sydnee Sandberg.

Coach Walls says: “It’s a solid little group. Madeline is a state champion from two years ago, and she’s started off strong and we’re looking for improvement for everybody. The first two races that we've had, they’ve been really good competitors and working hard at touching the wall.”

GF Red River

Coach: Bryan Walls

2020 finish: 17th at state.

Key returners: sr. Alena Meberg (31st at state in 100 freestyle, 26th at state in 100 backstroke), sr. Olivia Olson (24th at state in 100 backstroke), fr. Olivia Whitney (21st at state in 100 breaststroke), fr. Joely Anderson (20th at state in 200 freestyle, 13th at state in 500 freestyle), eighth-grader Addie Olson (25th at state in 500 freestyle), fr. Grace Fish.

Top newcomers: Sr. Abby Zola, seventh-grader Rorie Anderson.

ADVERTISEMENT

Coach Walls says: “They're a little less experienced than the Central team, and we're going to need to work on techniques. They’re hard-working, and we’re hoping to see improvement from the beginning to end of the year. That's the ultimate goal.”

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
What To Read Next
Girls basketball
Thompson is now 16-1, while Rugby falls to 15-2.
Featuring prep basketball results from throughout the region, area college basketball scores, boys and girls hockey results, and much more!
The league would launch in summer 2024 and is polling interest in possible host cities.