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Bemidji looks to repeat as section champion

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BEMIDJI — Last fall the boys cross country team snapped a 14-year drought when it captured the Section 8-2A team championship.

“I saw exactly what I thought I would see and what I wanted to see,” said BHS coach Ryan Aylesworth after the title was secured. “We were the favorites going in and we knew that if we ran like we are capable of running we should win. But we still had to go out and perform.”

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Based on recent history, at the start of the 2012 campaign Aylesworth believed that the Lumberjacks had what it took to be the section champions.

“We were young in 2011 when we finished fourth and we had been knocking on the door for a few years,” Aylesworth said. “And last year I had a feeling that we would have a good shot at winning the section.”

The coach can sense a similar vibe this fall. The Jacks return five seniors, a key junior and two sophomores who saw varsity action a year ago.

“I think we will be in the mix again this year and that’s always exciting,” Aylesworth said. “We have five experienced kids who know what it takes to get to state and know how important it is to stay focused. And we also have some younger kids who appear to be ready to step up to the challenges.”

The experienced cast is headed by senior Sam Carlson who was the Section 8-2A individual champion last season. Other returning runners who placed at the section meet in 2012 are senior Seth Neubeck, junior Billy Freyholtz and sophomore Caleb Appleton.

Complimenting those runners early this year will be seniors Evan White, Cody Freyholtz and Thomas Revering plus sophomore Noah Holter.

“During the first week of practice you could tell the runners who put in the miles during the offseason,” Aylesworth said. “Sam was one of them. Last year he won the section title and I’d be surprised if he didn’t do it again this year. When you have a 1-point scorer it gives you a jumpstart on the field. What will be the difference maker, however, is how the other athletes in our top five perform.”

The season began Aug. 20 with a meet in Moorhead but the first important competition will be Sept. 5 at Detroit Lakes.

“There will be most of our section teams at that meet because Detroit Lakes is the site of the Section 8-2A meet in October and everyone will want to have the opportunity to learn the section course and see where they are at in terms of the section teams,” Aylesworth said.

“We’re looking forward to running in that meet. I’m very excited about our team and eager to see how we will do.”

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Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9200
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