BEMIDJI – Individual success and berths in the state meets are the goals of the Bemidji High school wrestlers and swimmers this weekend as the athletes participate in their section individual meets.
The Lumberjacks swimmers and divers will host their Section 5A peers today and Saturday while the wrestlers head to Brainerd for their individual meet.
The top three finishers in each of the swimming events and in diving advance to the state meet, plus any swimmer who reaches the state qualification time.
The section swimming and diving meet begins 5 p.m. today with the preliminary round. At noon on Saturday the diving preliminaries will be held and the top 16 finishers in the events will return to the pool 3 p.m. Saturday for the consolation and championship heats.
BHS is likely to have many of its athletes qualify for the championship round and, as coach Woody Leindecker often states, if they have a lane they have a chance of gaining the state meet.
A year ago Tyler Hemp represented the Lumberjacks at the state meet in the 100 breast stroke and he appears to be in position to do it again this weekend.
The junior enters today’s race seeded third in the event while teammate Matt Arndt is seeded seventh.
Hemp also is seeded seventh in the 200 free and could challenge for a state berth in that event.
Bemidji’s other top-10 seeds include Nick Gubbels in the 50 free (sixth) and 100 free (seventh), Arndt in the 100 fly (10th), Wyatt Yartz in the 100 free (ninth), Nate Gubbels in the 100 free (10th) and 100 back (10th) plus Eli Wright in the 500 free (10th).
Diver Sam Howard also is among the favorites and should be a contender for the state meet.
“It’s difficult to seed diving but I believe Sam would rank somewhere between second and fourth and the top three divers make it to state,” Leindecker said.
The coach also believes that BHS could challenge for state berths in the 200 medley relay and the 200 free relay but each relay team will have to shave about four seconds off its time to make the state standard.
The section individual meet begins at 5 p.m. today and BHS coach Rance Bahr is excited to see how his athletes perform.
The roster includes two wrestlers who qualified for state last year: Brian Maas at 113 and Alex Johnson at heavyweight.
Maas won the section at 106 and finished third at the state. Johnson also was a section champ but did not place at the state meet.
“We have several wrestlers with a very good opportunity to place in the top two and qualify for the state tournament,” Bahr said. “We have had a great week of practice, have had some opportunity to rest some minor injuries and should be very well prepared for the upcoming opportunities.”
Bemidji’s tournament roster opens with Tyler O’Beirne, the likely fourth or fifth seed, at 106.
Maas is projected to be the top seed at 113 and Dylon Sauceda probably will be ranked fourth or fifth at 120.
Logan Crosby should be a No. 1 seed at 125 and Craig Maas will be in the top three seeds at 132.
Last week Robert Treuer wrestled at 138 at the section team event but sustained an injury and will be sidelined this weekend.
Lucas Gast will take his place today.
Gannon Strain will handle the chores at 145, Larimee Martell at 152 and Nick Peterson at 160.
Kade Johnson will be Bemidji’s 170-pound representative and is likely to be the top seed.
Josh Dreyer will compete at 182 and Wyatt Yoemans will wrestle at 220. Bemidji will not have a wrestler at 195.
Alex Johnson is expected to be the third seed and will try to move up at least one notch to make it to state.
“We have a great opportunity to send several kids to the Xcel Center (the site of the state meet) and, as coaches, we are looking forward to seeing which kids step up to claim their trip to the state tournament,” Bahr said.