Trips to the state meet will be on the line today as the Bemidji Nordic ski teams head to Camp Ripley for the 8AA competition.
"It should be an exciting day," said BHS coach Mark Walters. "The skiers are as ready as they can be."
A year ago Bemidji finished second to Little Falls in both the boys and the girls team races. The Flyers are favored again this year but Walters believes the Lumberjacks could challenge Little Falls for the boys title.
"I'm an optimistic person," the coach said. "The skiing website 'skinny.com' stated that Little Falls is in a good spot to repeat as boys and girls champions and that Brainerd is the only team that could challenge.
"I believe that numbers and names don't matter. Little Falls has dominated the girls side for years and probably will again on Wednesday. But I'll be very interested to see how our boys do," Walters added.
Today's format features a pursuit race which includes a 5-kilometer classical leg in the morning and a 5-kilometer free leg in the afternoon.
Each squad is allowed up to seven skiers and the top four finishers will count in the team scoring.
The girls varsity competitors will hit the trail for their classical leg 10 a.m. today (weather permitting) and the boys will follow. At 1:30 p.m. the girls will return for their free ski leg and the boys will climax the day with their free run.
The race features a staggered start for the classical leg and Bemidji drew the third position. Laura Yourd will assume that spot and Bailey Drewes will begin her competition in the No. 12 position.
Joining them in the girls race will be Alicia Papke-Larson, Summer Johnson, Kim Truedson, Mari Eggebo and California Thorson. The alternates are Emma Brokl and Sara Heisler.
The top eight individual finishers not on the section championship team will earn trips to the state meet.
"I anticipate Bailey challenging for a state berth and we also have other skiers who could qualify depending upon how the day goes," Walters said.
Tony Sagedahl and Adam Holter qualified for the state meet a year ago and Walters would not be surprised to see them and some of their teammates challenge for state berths today.
Joining Sagedahl and Holter in today's race will be Kyle Sagedahl, Sam Dwyer, Eli Rassler, John Buckanaga and Trent Buckanaga. Andy Berube and Tanner Asper are the alternates.
Trek North also is in today's Section 8AA field and coach Dan McKeon believes that the team has the potential to send someone to the state meet.
"We will be fielding two full teams and we do have a girl (Kaitlin Bakker) and a boy (CJ Merhar) whose performances in meets makes it very possible for them to qualify for state," McKeon said.
Joining Bakker on today's girls roster are Hannah Marty, Kaija Roy, Hannah Lash, Inga Roen, Maddie Treuer and Maddie Hawkins.
Trek North's boys squad includes Merhar, Andy Gustafson, Abe Nisley, K Simpson, Josh Larue, Ivan Smith and Brian Thavis.