The state high school swimming meet begins today at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center and Bemidji will be represented by four athletes and an alternate who will compete in five events.
Individually Nick Nyberg and Adam Falk will swim in the 300 free, Dylan Hoven in the 50 free and 100 free and Nyberg in the 500 free. The Lumberjacks will also be represented in the 200 and 400 free relays by Nick Gubbels, Nyberg, Falk and Hoven.
Tyler Hemp will also head to state as the alternate swimmer for the two relays.
A year ago the Lumberjacks sent four swimmers to the state meet and finished fourth in the Class A team standings. Among that contingent were Nyberg who was the alternate relay swimmer, Hoven and Falk.
"That experience should help us this year," said BHS coach Woody Leindecker. "Our goal will be to qualify as many swimmers as possible in the top eight and the top 16 so we can score our maximum number of points."
Today's action features the swimming preliminaries and the top 16 finishers in each event will qualify for Saturday's championship and consolation rounds.
The fastest eight swimmers will advance to the championship division and will be in contention for state titles. Today's ninth through 16th finishers will swim in Saturday's consolation bracket and the best they can finish at state is ninth place.
Hoven should qualify for Saturday's championship heat in both the 50 and 100 free and he could challenge for state titles in each.
"I'd like to win both races," Hoven, who has designed his practice regimen to peak this weekend, said. "I feel that I have legitimate shots at winning both of them."
A year ago Hoven was fourth in the 50 free and eighth in the 100 free. Cameron Hyde of Sartell is the highest returning qualifier in the 50 but Hoven is the lone returning place winner in the 100 free.
"I've been racing against Cameron for the last three years and we've had some great races," Hoven said. "I'm looking forward to meeting him again."
Hoven also anchors both relays and enjoys the challenge.
"My job as the anchor is to bring it home and swim as hard as I can," Hoven said.
Nyberg's goal is to qualify for the championship heat in the 200 free and the 500 free.
"I think those are realistic goals," Nyberg said.
The 200 is a long sprint but the 500 is a marathon and Nyberg enjoys competing in the endurance test.
"I wish I had been born a 50 free swimmer but I wasn't. I guess I was born a 500 man," Nyberg said.
Falk swam in both relays last year and will do so again today. He also will race in the 200 and his goal will be to do the best that he can.
"It would be fun to finish in the top eight but I would like to at least make the top 16," Falk said. "Being here last year will help me because I'm used to the bigger setting and am comfortable with what happens at state.
"I'm always nervous before a race but because I was here last year I won't be frightened."
Gubbels will be the third on the 200 relay and is expected to anchor the 400 relay. This is his first time at the state meet and he is eager to contribute.
"I want to do my job and have no regrets when the meet is over," Gubbels said.
"As a third on the relay your job is to keep the intensity going so we can have momentum for the anchor."
Hemp is excited to be part of the state team and knows that this week's experience will help him down the line.
"Just to get the feel of being at state is going to make me a better swimmer," he said. "And if I get the chance to swim I'll be ready."