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A trio of Bemidji swimmers and divers maneuvered through the gauntlet at BHS reserved for athletes who qualify for state competition. The athletes included diver Jana Hedstrom and swimmers Lexie Hendricks and Steph Frey. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

Hedstrom, Hendricks, Frey ready for state swimming and diving meet challenges

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Diver Jana Hedstrom will hold center stage for the Bemidji swimming and diving team today as the state meet begins at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center.

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The first day of the state meet begins at noon and is dedicated to diving and Hedstrom will be the fifth competitor in the 32-athlete rotation.

Today's field will be paired in half as only the top 16 will qualify for Saturday's finals. After Saturday's action, the top eight finishers will receive medals and earn all-state honors.

A pair of Lumberjacks, Lexie Hendricks and Steph Frey, will be in action during Friday's swimming preliminaries. Hendricks will compete in the 500 free while Frey will open her state competition in the 200 free and conclude her preliminary competition in the 100 breast stroke.

Once again, the top 16 will return to the pool for Saturday's finals.

Wednesday the three athletes received a sendoff from the BHS student body as they ran the gauntlet which is reserved for Lumberjacks who qualify as individuals for state competition.

"It was pretty fun and it was nice to see the whole school supporting us," Hedstrom said. "I'm sure being at state again will be fun too."

The junior is making her second appearance at the state meet. A year ago she earned 306 points at the U of M but Saturday she was awarded 324.55 at the Section 8A meet despite struggling on her final three dives.

"My high score this year was 340 and I'll have to do at least that well to get a medal," she said. "I know there are four divers at state who are above 350 and there is one above 400 so you have to dive your best to stay with the competition. But the scoring at state is harder than during the regular season so I don't think many divers will be getting 350s."

Hedstrom finished 16th a year ago and is eager to see how she fares this season.

"I'm more excited than nervous," she said, "because I know I can do my dives and do them well enough to place. The only thing is I need to do them well on Thursday."

Hendricks will be making her first appearance at the state meet and the sophomore is anxious to see how she will fare against her fellow state entrants.

"Many of the swimmers have times that are similar to mine," Hendricks, who finished the 500 free in 5:32.98 at the section meet said. "I hope that I can drop some time and beat enough of them to move up to the top 16."

Competitively swimming 500 yards is not for everybody but Hendricks enjoys the challenge of distance swimming.

"You have to be an endurance athlete but you also have to stay on the pace and know your pace," she said. "I don't try to save anything for the end but during the last few laps you just want to get done with the race so I sprint to the finish."

Frey knows what it is like to be involved in state competition as she swam in the 200 IM and a pair of relays last fall. She enters Friday's competition seeded fourth in the 200 free and fifth in the 100 breast stroke.

"But many swimmers are seeded with times that are only a few hundredths of a second ahead or behind me so everybody is super fast," Frey said. "Having everyone so close in their times worries me but that also sets a new challenge for me.

"There will be pressure but all I really want to do is go to state and swim my races as well as I can. My goal is to have fun and do my best and if I swim as fast as I can I'll take whatever happens."

Y pmiller@bemidjipioneer.com

Diver Jana Hedstrom will hold center stage for the Bemidji swimming and diving team today as the state meet begins at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center.

The first day of the state meet begins at noon and is dedicated to diving and Hedstrom will be the fifth competitor in the 32-athlete rotation.

Today's field will be paired in half as only the top 16 will qualify for Saturday's finals. After Saturday's action, the top eight finishers will receive medals and earn all-state honors.

A pair of Lumberjacks, Lexie Hendricks and Steph Frey, will be in action during Friday's swimming preliminaries. Hendricks will compete in the 500 free while Frey will open her state competition in the 200 free and conclude her preliminary competition in the 100 breast stroke.

Once again, the top 16 will return to the pool for Saturday's finals.

Wednesday the three athletes received a sendoff from the BHS student body as they ran the gauntlet which is reserved for Lumberjacks who qualify as individuals for state competition.

"It was pretty fun and it was nice to see the whole school supporting us," Hedstrom said. "I'm sure being at state again will be fun too."

The junior is making her second appearance at the state meet. A year ago she earned 306 points at the U of M but Saturday she was awarded 324.55 at the Section 8A meet despite struggling on her final three dives.

"My high score this year was 340 and I'll have to do at least that well to get a medal," she said. "I know there are four divers at state who are above 350 and there is one above 400 so you have to dive your best to stay with the competition. But the scoring at state is harder than during the regular season so I don't think many divers will be getting 350s."

Hedstrom finished 16th a year ago and is eager to see how she fares this season.

"I'm more excited than nervous," she said, "because I know I can do my dives and do them well enough to place. The only thing is I need to do them well on Thursday."

Hendricks will be making her first appearance at the state meet and the sophomore is anxious to see how she will fare against her fellow state entrants.

"Many of the swimmers have times that are similar to mine," Hendricks, who finished the 500 free in 5:32.98 at the section meet said. "I hope that I can drop some time and beat enough of them to move up to the top 16."

Competitively swimming 500 yards is not for everybody but Hendricks enjoys the challenge of distance swimming.

"You have to be an endurance athlete but you also have to stay on the pace and know your pace," she said. "I don't try to save anything for the end but during the last few laps you just want to get done with the race so I sprint to the finish."

Frey knows what it is like to be involved in state competition as she swam in the 200 IM and a pair of relays last fall. She enters Friday's competition seeded fourth in the 200 free and fifth in the 100 breast stroke.

"But many swimmers are seeded with times that are only a few hundredths of a second ahead or behind me so everybody is super fast," Frey said. "Having everyone so close in their times worries me but that also sets a new challenge for me.

"There will be pressure but all I really want to do is go to state and swim my races as well as I can. My goal is to have fun and do my best and if I swim as fast as I can I'll take whatever happens."

pmiller@bemidjipioneer.com

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Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9200
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