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Bemidji's Gunnar Nelson, left, makes the handoff to Sam Carlson for the third leg of the 4x800-meter relay at the MSHSL Track and Field Championships Saturday at Hamline University in St. Paul. The Lumberjacks failed to defend their 4x800 title from a year ago, but finished in ninth place with a time of 8:04.92 to score the Jacks' lone team point on the weekend. Rand Middleton | Fourm Communications

BHS medals in four events at state meet

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BHS medals in four events at state meet
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

ST. PAUL - It wasn't quite how the Bemidji High School track and field teams wanted to finish their seasons, but both teams had a decent showing at the MSHSL Class AA state championship meet held at Hamline University.

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"It was a pretty good day overall," said distance coach Ryan Aylesworth of Bemidji's showing in the meet. "We'll keep working in the offseason to get back down here, but this is valuable experience for the kids down here on a big stage in front of a lot of people. They did well."

The Lumberjack girls team finished tied for 26th place with 11 points while the boys team scored a single point to tie for 57th place. All but one of the athletes that went to St. Paul for the state meet will return next year for the Lumberjacks.

Lakeville South won the girls competition with 56.5 points while Wayzata ran away with boys title with 81 points. Park was second at 64.

For the Lumberjack girls, Jenna Truedson had a hand in scoring eight of their 11 points.

The freshman finished fourth in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 4 minutes, 58.44 seconds - a new personal best and school record.

"She did an excellent job," Aylesworth said.

But three other runners ran a bit faster.

Shakopee's Maria Hauger finished first in the race with a time of 4:55.88, while Alexandria's Jamie Pipenburg and Prior Lake's Taylor School finished second and third, respectively.

Aylesworth said Truedson was in the lead group for the entire race, but on the final lap the three girls that finished in front of her made a surge.

"They gapped her a little bit, and Jenna and another girl (Eagan's Danielle Anderson, who finished fifth) were running in their own group," Aylesworth said. "Jenna pulled ahead of (Anderson) eventually and got fourth."

It was the first time Truedson had broken the five-minute mark in her young career.

Truedson was also a member of the all-freshman 400-meter relay squad that finished eighth to earn two points for the Lumberjacks.

The Jacks' team of Truedson, Amy Carey, Megan Serratore and Maea Wall ran the race in 4:01.42, about six seconds behind winners Prior Lake (3:54.91).

Aylesworth said that the first two legs of Carey and Serratore ran their best times of the season.

But a handoff issue between the second and third legs resulted in a dropped baton and a worse finish than the Lumberjacks would have hoped.

"We were right in the mix, but there was some confusion, some craziness in that handoff," Aylesworth said. "There were a few teams exchanging at the same time and we dropped it."

Truedson picked up the baton right away and the Jacks were able to get back into a medal position despite the drop.

"They still managed to get eighth, so it was a nice job by the girls," Aylesworth said.

Junior Alli Heifort was the other Lumberjack to score points at the state meet.

Heifort finished 10th in the shot put, just missing the final flight. Her toss of 38-6½ was just three and a half inches behind the ninth-place finisher, Marissa Akinseye of Apple Valley.

She had already finished seventh for three points in the discus throw on Friday, hurling the disc 136 feet, 9.

"She was so close to making the finals (in shot), but she threw very well," Aylesworth said. "It was a very nice weekend for her."

For the boys, the 4x800 relay team was the only Bemidji squad to make it to the second day of the tournament.

The team of Scott Hulsebus, Gunnar Nelson, Sam Carlson and Elias Hendrickson finished ninth out 18 teams and just made the medal stand.

"The boys didn't run their best time of the year, but they ran OK," Aylesworth said.

The team finished with a time of 8:04.92, but the Jacks had to wait to find out if they were going to place.

"There were two different heats, and we were in the slow heat," Aylesworth said. "But they got fifth in their heat and ended up being just enough to take ninth and get on the medal stand."

Three of the four members of the team will return next year.

In the Class A meet, the lone area competitor was Bagley/Fosston's Marissa Carlson. Carlson finished 15th in the 1,600 at 6:00.21.

The Blake School edged Watertown-Mayer for the girls Class A title, 39-38. Waseca won the boys meet with 56 points.

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Jack Hittinger
Jack Hittinger is the sports editor of the Bemidji Pioneer. He is also the Bemidji State beat writer. He hails from the Great State of Michigan. Read his Bemidji State blog at http://thebeaverblog.areavoices.com/ and follow him on Twitter at @Jackhitts.
(218) 333-9772
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