State tournament appearances by the girls basketball and football teams plus many individual Lumberjacks highlighted a very successful 2010 for the Bemidji High School sports programs.
And 2011 could be equally exciting as the boys hockey and basketball teams entered their holiday tournaments unbeaten and many of the spring and fall sports teams appear ready to challenge for state berths.
Last spring the girls basketball team thumped Hibbing 76-54 in the section championship game and lived up to its pre-season goal: taking the next step.
The trip to the state meet was the program's first since 2001.
Kayla Hirt scored 40 points in the section title game while Kelsey Heisler and Erica Weimann each added 11.
The run toward a state title ended in the quarterfinals, however, as BHS lost 65-49 to Sartell-St. Stephen. The Lumberjacks ended a spectacular season with a 25-2 record.
The boys basketball team ended a successful campaign one game shy of the state tournament as the Jacks (17-10) lost 65-43 to Little Falls in the section title contest.
Ryan Rude was named Bemidji's Most Valuable Player and Czar Woods was honored as the Defensive Player of the Year.
The boys hockey season ended in dramatic fashion as St. Cloud Tech defeated the Jacks 3-2 in quarterfinal play of the Section 8-2A tournament at Nymore Arena.
The loss stung as the season came to a sudden end but what was equally memorable was that Tech's winning goal came 2:58 into the sixth overtime. The game also featured a national record as BHS goalie Axel Osborn stopped 58 shots in the game that would never end.
"I tried to recap that game in my mind," said BHS coach Wade Chiodo after the marathon, "but so many things happened that every memory was fuzzy."
Osborn's 58-save performance bettered the national mark of 57 set by Garrett Jensen of Superior last year against River Falls.
Senior forward Jesse Nemgar capped his career by being chosen to the AP All-State honorable mention team. Nemgar set a Bemidji High School career record with 129 points. Also making that AP honorable mention squad was Osborn.
Nemgar was voted the team's Most Valuable Player and shared the Most Valuable Forward honor with Rylee Curb. Joseph Welle was selected as the MVP of the defense.
The Jacks ended 13-13.
Wrestlers Dale Norton and Corey Huber were two of the Lumberjacks who advanced to state competition in 2009-2010. Norton wrestled at 135 pounds while Huber competed at 165 pounds.
Huber went 2-2 at the state meet but did not place. Norton finished sixth at state with a 2-3 record.
The Lumberjacks also earned a state academic team award as the squad placed fourth in Class 3A with a cumulative grade point average of 3.7.
Bemidji's girls hockey captains, Jessica Hunt, Annie Swartz, Emily Larson and Shelby Sauer, each earned honorable mention status in the 2010 Minnesota Associated Press All-State poll.
Sauer was Bemidji's leading scorer with 15 goals and 22 assits. She also had a team-high +32 rating.
Larson, a defenseman, had six goals and nine assists and was +25. She also was named the team's MVP.
Hunt also played defense and had five goals and six assists and finished with a +23 rating while Swartz, another defenseman, scored two goals and added eight assists. Swartz also was +25. Both were named to the All State Academic Team.
The Lumberjacks reached the Section 8-2A title game where they lost to Roseau 4-2 and finished with a 19-6-1 record.
The boys swimmers had a record season as the team advanced four athletes to the state meet and those swimmers rose to the occasion.
Matt Wilcox led the charge as he won the 100 free, setting a school record with a time of 45.96.
Wilcox also was second in the 200 free with another school record effort of 1:41.73.
Paul Voss was 12th in the 200 free in 1:48.78 and eighth in the 500 free (5:18.85) while Dylan Hoven finished fourth in the 50 free with a school-record time of 21.32.
In the 200 free relay Hoven, Adam Falk, Voss and Wilcox combined for third place (1:27.59) while the 400 free relay unit of Falk, Hoven, Voss and Wilcox was second (3:12.50).
Collectively the BHS athletes scored 145 points at the state meet which earned the Jacks fourth place.
The BHS Nordic ski teams also were represented at the state competition as Bailey Drewes, Molly Manske, Matt Lee, Adam Holter and Tony Sagedahl qualified for the meet.
The BHS gym team finished seventh at the section meet with 132.0 points.
Rachel Bell was 14th in the section All-Around competition with 33.125. She was chosen as the team's Gymnast of the Year and won an All-State award along with Katie Jensen for scoring 8.8 or higher in six straight meets on the vault.
Bell had the team's top score on the bars, beam and floor while Jensen had the top score on the vault.
Spring 2010 began with the Pete Fenson rink capturing fourth place at the World Men's Curling Championships in Italy after falling 6-4 to Scotland in the third-place game.
The success and longevity of Bemidji girls golf coach Jeff Nelson was recognized by his peers as Nelson was inducted into the Minnesota Golf Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
The Bemidji Athletic Hall of Fame membership grew by five last spring as Ray Kavanagh, John Warford, Jim Grimm, Jim Toninato and Joe Motzko represented the Class of 2010.
Possible future inductees could include Corey Huber and Abby Hendricks who were named BHS' 2009-2010 Athletes of the Year at the Hall of Fame banquet.
The Lumberjacks boys tennis team fell short of advancing to the section meet but Ben and Adam Holter accomplished that feat in doubles.
Bemidji's baseball team ended the spring 13-8 after falling 4-3 to Moorhead in the second round of the 8-3A tournament. Tyler Follis earned the Horace May Award while Matt Hietala was given the Des Sagedahl Award.
The softball team also fell short of the state tournament after losing twice to Big Lake in the section playdowns. Janelle Williams led the offense with a .455 batting average.
BHS was represented at the spring state meets, however, as Meg Phelps qualified for the girls golf meet as did track and field athletes Selina Gilbertson (discus), Allie Heifort (shot put), Alex Schoneberger (800), Ryan Rude (triple jump) and the 4x800 relay unit of Matt Lee, Jake Urban, John Buckanaga and Schoneberger. The relay team finished sixth at state.
At season's end Schoneberger and Bailey Drewes were honored as the track and field Most Valuable Athletes.
Joe Welle and Kevin Larson had the low rounds for the boys golf team as each was in the 70s six times.
Local anglers Bob Strand and Dave Hanson outlasted a talented field to win the Kraus-Anderson Walleye Classic on Lake Bemidji in June with 16.03 pounds. Richard Blomberg of Bemidji and Benji Calder of Salon, Minn. caught the largest walleye of the tournament, a 5.53-pound fish.
Warroad golfers Gary Pieper, Mark Hebel, Mike Rybak, Josh Brodean and Brian Hardwick captured the 33rd annual Wells Fargo-Gordy Skaar Memorial golf tournament with a 19-under-par 53.
The Lumberjack Scramble winners were Kevin Kimmes, Ron Oelrich, Aaron Swenson, Maxx Anderson and Tom Jenkins.
Bemidji's Legion baseball team posted a 20-12 regular season record but its summer came to an abrupt end when it lost 2-1 to Nisswa and 10-9 to Brainerd in the sub-district tournament.
Bemidji's Northern Heat won the state Cal Ripken tournament and finished second in the district tournament.
The VFW baseball team went 20-0 during the regular season, advanced from the loser's bracket to claim the district crown and posted two victories over St. Paul Ranview on way to the state championship. The Vets ended a memorable summer with a 30-5 record.
The Bemidji Mudcats advanced to the state amateur tournament where they fell 5-1 to perennial power Dundas. The Mudcats finished the summer with a 22-15 record.
Eric Lilleboe defeated Kevin Krigbaum to win the Birchmont Men's Championship. Rick Passolt nipped Curt Howard to claim the Executive title, Scott Anderson stopped Eric Niskanen for the Senior crown, Jim Trapp tripped Bryant Barnes for the Super Senior championship, Rachel Roller defeated Cydney Hasselberg for the ladies crown and Braden Ohmen stopped Dakotah Brunelle for the junior title.
Chris Curb capped the area competitive golf season by winning the Vandersluis with a 54-hole total of 214.
Before the BHS fall campaigns even started some of the teams, most notably the volleyball and football squads, were shorthanded.
Kayla Hirt suffered a torn ACL late in the summer and the senior underwent surgery. Hirt missed the volleyball season and also is a spectator with the basketball team. In November Hirt officially signed to play basketball for the University of Minnesota.
Without Hirt the volleyball team finished 15-15 and advanced to the Section 8-3A semifinals where it lost to St. Michael-Albertville
Ryan Rude was among the football players who missed significant time this fall. But his teammates more than picked up the slack as the Lumberjacks posted a 9-2 record and advanced to the state tournament, losing 24-21 to Rogers in the opening round.
The girls tennis team fell one victory shy of reaching the state as it lost 5-2 to Brainerd in the 8AA title match.
Lumberjacks Cortne and Jessica Solberg also fell just short of a state trip as the doubles team lost in the 8AA true second match. The sisters shared the BHS tennis Most Valuable Player award.
Bemidji's girls soccer team lost a 2-1 shootout decision to Detroit Lakes in the section quarterfinals while the boys team advanced to the section title game where it lost 3-0 to St. Cloud Cathedral. Defender Tony Smith capped his career by being named to the All-State team.
Smith also made the all-conference team along with Tanner Koetter, Max Hazelton, Kyle Fodness and Isak Sommer.
BHS placed four girls on the all-conference squad, including Paige Niskanen, Alexa Wang, Caitlin Blotske and Erin Booth.
Jenna Truedson had a successful cross country campaign as she qualified for the state meet. The eighth grader earned All-State honors by finishing 17th.
Bemidji also was represented at the girls swimming and diving meet by diver Jenna Hedstrom and swimmers Steph Frey (200 free and 100 breast) and Lexie Hendricks (500 free). Frey finished third in the 100 breast and seventh in the 200 free.
Capping the fall highlights was the induction of legendary Bemidji curling coach Bob Fenson into the USA Curling Hall of Fame.