Lumberjack teams put on the miles
The winter sports seasons at Bemidji High School ended Saturday when the boys basketball team lost 68-65 to Detroit Lakes in the Section 8-3A semifinals at St. Cloud State.
On Oct. 19, the girls hockey team began the school's winter campaigns with a game against Thief River Falls.
During the next five months Lumberjack athletes participated in 157 events and put on thousands of miles.
The winter travel routes encompassed all of Minnesota and extended into North Dakota.
During the Christmas break, for example, the girls basketball team headed to Albert Lea which is a stone's throw north of the Iowa border.
At the same time the boys hockey team was playing in a tournament in Duluth while the wrestlers were at the two-day West Fargo Invitational.
A few days before Christmas the girls hockey squad headed to the Canadian border to battle International Falls.
And that trend of hopping a bus and heading in every direction continued through last week when the boys basketball team traveled to St. Cloud for the Section 8-3A semifinals.
"Because of our location and our situation of being a bigger school in northern Minnesota, our schedules are extremely unique," said BHS activities director Troy Hendricks.
"In the old days when everybody was in one or two classes we matched up with schools such as Detroit Lakes and East Grand Forks but now the teams are scheduling teams within their conferences and sections. We're an independent and we're a large school and we don't have a conference affiliation. That means we are more apt to play teams in our section.
"We can't play teams like Park Rapids anymore and that translates into longer road trips," Hendricks added.
Complicating the scheduling process is the fact that some school boards, because of the distance, won't allow their teams to travel to Bemidji unless the cost is covered by the booster clubs. In those situations Bemidji High's options are limited to either not playing those teams or to always be the road team.
"When scheduling we look for teams that are competitive, are willing participants and if the trip is cost effective," Hendricks said. "In many respects the economic downturn has made it difficult to schedule and has an impact on transportation budgets.
"The question is, do you play lesser teams that are closer or do you schedule teams that are competitive but are farther away, especially knowing that some of those teams won't come to Bemidji and to keep playing them we will have to travel every year."
The scheduling scenario was impacted one again Monday as the Minnesota State High School League announced its new two-year section assignments.
Starting this fall all Bemidji sports, with the exception of boys swimming and football, will be in Section 8 and will be affiliated with the large-school classes.
This year most BHS programs were in the large-school divisions. The exceptions were swimming, soccer and gymnastics which participated in Class A, boys basketball which was in 8-3A and girls basketball which competed in 7-3A.
Next season the girls swimmers, soccer teams and gymnasts will remain in 8A and the boys swimmers will remain in 3A. Both basketball programs, however, have been returned to Section 8-4A.
Last fall the football team advanced to the state playoffs as a representative of 7-4A and Monday the MSHSL decided to keep the Lumberjacks in that section.
Joining them will be Detroit Lakes, Duluth Central, Grand Rapids, Hermantown and Hibbing.
Geographically, Section 3A in boys swimming extends from Hutchinson and Montevideo to Thief River Falls. In 8A girls swimming the range is Lake of the Woods to Fergus Falls.
The Section 8 large-school participants vary with the sport but, for the most part, the list includes Bemidji, Brainerd, Moorhead and the St. Cloud schools.
Jensen honored as top BHS gymnast
The BHS gymnastics team held its annual post-season celebration Sunday and Katie Jensen was named the team's Gymnast of the Year.
Jensen was the team's most consistent All-Around athlete this winter but the junior was unable to participate in the section meet because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament sustained during a practice session prior to the section meet.
Jensen also led the Jacks on the vault and bars while Jessi Bergquist was the top scorer on the beam and floor.
The list of gymnastics award winners included:
Most Improved: Sara Erickson
Most Dedicated: Katie Jensen
Most Spirited: Jessi Bergquist
Attendance: Bergquist, Alyshia Moe
Beam Stick (fewest falls): Jensen
All-State: Jensen on vault and beam; Bergquist on beam
9.0 Club: Jensen on vault
Gymnast of Year: Jensen
Bemidji's list of letterwinners included:
JUNIORS: Brooke Beck, Jessica Bergquist, Katie Jensen, Chelsey Anderson
SOPHOMORE: Alyshia Moe
FRESHMAN: Sara Erickson
EIGHTH GRADE; Amy Carey
Hockey, wrestlers hold banquet
The BHS boys hockey team will stage its annual post-season celebration 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Hungry Bear Convention Center.
The Jacks finished 23-3-2 and extended their season to the Section 8-2A championship game where they lost 2-0 to Moorhead.
Tonight at Amsoil Arena in Duluth Steve Heller and Tyler Tatro will be on the Iron Range All-Star team that will take on the Duluth Area All Stars in the 19th annual St. Luke's Orthopedics and Sports Medicine High School All-Star game.
The wrestlers will hold their season-ending dinner 6 p.m. March 24 at the High School Commons. The wrestlers had a fantastic winter, finishing 21-11 and advancing to the state tournament.