Laura Yourd and Alicia Papke-Larson have shared the captain's duties for the Bemidji swimming and diving team this fall and the seniors are confident that the Lumberjacks will perform at their best at the Section 8A meet this weekend.
"We are ready. We've been looking forward to this meet all year. Everyone is excited," Papke-Larson said of the 8A event which begins at noon today with the diving preliminaries.
"We've all had good swims this year and for us to win we will all have to swim the best that we possibly can," Yourd added.
Park Rapids is the defending champion while the Lumberjacks finished third a year ago. Yourd and Papke-Larson would like to see Bemidji overtake the Panthers and the rest of the field this weekend.
"It is fun to compete at this time of the year but there will be pressure," Papke-Larson, whose events include the 200 medley relay, the 100 back, 100 breaststroke and 400 free relay, said. "You want to win your event so badly but sometimes it can come down to 1,000th of a second. Everybody wants it just as badly as you do and everybody has been training as hard as you have. The difference between going to state and staying home could come down to a turn."
To win the section a team needs depth in addition to quality because the relays are scored to eight places and the individual events are scored to 16 places. Papke-Larson believes that the scoring format favors the Jacks.
"Our team is really strong on depth," she said. "Maybe we're not always getting all of the first or seconds but we do get many eighths, ninths and 10ths and those points are huge in a meet like this."
"We've had many swimmers finishing in the top eight all year long so we have the depth and the talent to win the section," Yourd, who specializes in the freestyle events, said. "Last year Park Rapids came out of the woodwork to win the section and that showed everybody else how much Park Rapids wanted it.
"This year we want it just as badly."
"You will see many fast swims from us and from the other teams," Papke-Larson added. "We are tapered, we are shaved and we have new swim suits just for this meet so I expect that there will be many Bemidji girls on that podium after the races."
Today's schedule begins at noon with the diving preliminaries while the swimming preliminaries will start at 5 p.m. Saturday's finals will begin at 1 p.m.
The field will be cut to the top 16 following today's action and the top eight will make Saturday's championship flights.