ST. PAUL - The end of a wonderful era of Bemidji High School sports will end this weekend at the state Class 3A baseball tournament in St. Paul.
This group of seniors has enjoyed success that included consecutive trips to the state tourney and a berth in last summer's Legion state meet.
As youngsters, these seniors also captured the state VFW title a few years ago and travelled to Alliance, Neb., as 12-year-olds for the Midwest Regional Cal Ripken tournament.
And joining them all the way were their parents.
"We've logged a lot of miles following these kids," said Sherry Rutledge, the mother of centerfielder Cody Rutledge. "Watching Cody play baseball and his other sports (football and basketball) we've put on at least 40,000 miles on one vehicle and 30,000 on another.
"But all those miles have been worth it," she added.
Bob Conner has also spent time and gasoline following the exploits of his son Nick. And he said he wouldn't have traded these experiences for the world.
"I've had fun," he said. "This is a close-knit team and I think the parents are too. The parents have spent so much time together for so many years that we've developed friendships with each other."
The end of those road trips is drawing near as the large group of seniors has graduated and all the remains is Legion baseball.
"It's been a very good run for the kids and the parents," Conner said. "I'm proud of Nick becoming a member of this team. He had to work his way up and he has made the most of his opportunity."
"It's a good thing that all of the parents enjoy watching baseball," Sherry Rutledge said. "Because we've seen quite a bit of it with these kids."