Going into Thursday night's meet with Grand Rapids, Bemidji High swim coach Scott Leindecker expected a close battle that could go down to the wire.
Maybe Leindecker should look at a second career as a sports handicapper.
Thursday's meet was indeed a battle to the end with neither team taking more than a two point lead through the first nine events. The Lumberjacks then pulled away down the stretch, posting a big 98-88 win.
"We needed to have our veteran swimmers either win or place high in their events and then get some third, fourth and fifth place points from our younger guys," Leindecker reported. "That's exactly what happened - we won the events we needed to win and the young guys stepped up and added valuable points."
The Jacks took an early two point lead with a win in the 200 yard medley relay behind Nick Nyberg, Matt Wilcox, Adam Falk and Dylan Hoven. Grand Rapids finished second and third.
The Jacks' Paul Voss then captured the 200 freestyle with Seth Olson adding a point in fifth. But GR ended 2-3-4 to even the score.
The home team then took the lead with a 1-3 finish in the 200 IM. Falk was second and Pat Voss fourth to keep the Jacks close.
Bemidji's Hoven then won the 50 freestyle with Nick Gubbels fourth as GR maintained the two point lead. The teams split in diving with Bemidji's Gunnar Nelson second, Dylan Tillemans third and Anthony Hanson fifth.
The Jacks then made a big move in the 100 butterfly to regain a two point lead with Voss winning and Falk second.
But GR came right back to even the meet in the 100 freestyle. Hoven won the event for the Jacks and Gubbels was fifth, but Rapids went 2-3-4.
GR then went ahead by two in the 500 freestyle. The Jack's Nyberg was first with Pat Voss fifth. Again, GR went 2-3-4.
The Jacks came back to even the meet with a win in the 200 freestyle relay behind Nyberg, Gubbels, Paul Voss and Hoven.
The see-saw battle continued with the Rapids regaining a two point edge in the 100 backstroke. Bemidji's Wilcox won and Eli Wright added a valuable point in fifth.
"I thought we were done after that event," Leindecker said. He was in for a surprise.
The Jacks premier swimmer Wilcox jumped right back in the pool for the 100 breaststroke and fueled a surge for the Jacks take the lead for good. Wilcox won with Olson third and Matt Arndt fifth. The Jacks led by four entering the final event.
Wilcox then anchored the winning 400 free relay with Nyberg, Falk and Voss laying the ground work. The Jacks also finished third in the event behind Pat Voss, Gubbels, Olson and Wright.
"It was a great meet and a great effort by the entire team," Leindecker said. "Winning never gets old."