The Bemidji High ski teams begin their new season today at Ely, skiing in the Timberwolves Invitational at Hidden Valley.
It will be a 5k freestyle event with a 3.3 junior high course.
The boys varsity will leave the starting line at 11 with the girls varsity race starting a half hour later.
The two JV and Junior High events will follow the varsity races.
Bemidji faces a major overhaul this winter after heavy graduation losses in 2009.It will be heavier among the boys where only one letter winner returns. The girls have five but only three members of their section tournament team.
The boys had a successful year last winter, winning the Maplelag title at Detroit Lakes, taking second at their own Invitational and third at three other events including the sectional.
Zac Oelrich and Matt Lee qualified for the state where they finished 24 and 93. Lee returns but Oelrich is one of nine seniors who drew diplomas last spring.
and Max Roszkowski.
Lee, a swimming transfer, was a major contributor all year. Junior Lucas Brokl skied in one varsity meet, the only other skier to do so.
That pair will captain the boys squad this season.
Replacements will come from the JV which won the Deer River title and finished second in three other events. But that squad included six of the seniors from meet to meet to go with Brokl and six freshmen.
Moving up are sophs Matt Chatterton, Sam Dwyer, Eli Rassler, Zach Hewitt and Adam Holter.
The Middle School showed promise but most of its skiers were 6-7 graders with three of its four eighth graders moving into the varsity ranks this season. They are Jake Letson and the Sagedahl twins, Kyle and Tony.
Assistant Coach Ryan Aylesworth has recruited six new members from his fall cross country team to swell the boys ranks to 17.
More girls back
The girls are in better shape with only Jess Bruns, Emily Lawrence and Laura Rogers graduating from the tournament team.
Another, however, has transferred to Trek North leaving senior Maggie Manske and juniors Bailey Drewes and Laura Yourd to build around.
Other letter winners back are senior Tiffany Mason and junior Alicia Papke-Larson. Both multi- year performers.
Manske, Drewes and Yourd were tournament starters with Manske returning to the state meet after an 11th place section finish. She was 86 at the state. Drewes skied on the relay team at the state.
The girls were in the top three of five of their meets winning at Maplelag and taking third at the section.
Again replacements will have to come from the JV. But many of those skiers were the same with junior Bethany Scholl the only one to move up. The Middle School had limited participation. There are no freshmen on the varsity.
The only newcomers are exchange student Kristina Lengerhuis and sophs Anna Mangiamele and Kim Truedson. the last another cross country star.
Mark Walters returns for his seventh season at the helm assisted again by Aylesworth.
The slate has its usual stops at Brainerd, Deer River, Mesabi East, Fergus Falls and Little Falls with the section returning to Camp Ripley Feb. 3. The state will be at Giants Ridge, as usual, Feb. 11.
While Hidden Valley has five inches of snow, next week's meet at Bemidji may have to be postponed with no major snow in sight for the upcoming week and none on the local trails.
Starting today will be Lee, Brokl, Holter, Rassler and Dwyer for the boys and Drewes, Yourd, Manske, Papke-Larson and Mason for the girls.
The remaining 11 boys and three girls will ski the JV events.