Year in review: 2013 was a memorable year at Bemidji High School
BEMIDJI -- The 2013 seasons at Bemidji High School produced many memorable moments, including section championships by the cross country and swimming teams, state tournament appearances by many Lumberjacks and an individual state championship by Jenna Truedson in the mile at the state track meet.
The boys basketball program was under new management last winter as Dan Ninham took over as head coach and Travis Peterson assumed the assistant coaching duties.
The coaching staff inherited a team of young and untested players as the top seven players from the previous season had graduated. To no one’s surprise, the Lumberjacks struggled. The winter began with 11 losses but on Jan. 15 BHS snapped that skid by downing Detroit Lakes 71-60 in Detroit Lakes.
“Winning that game was a tremendous accomplishment,” Ninham said after the victory. “It was a team effort. The coaches all came together to help the cause and the kids came through.”
Bemidji continued to find the going difficult and managed only one more victory in a 2-24 campaign. The season came to an end in the opening round of the section playoffs when BHS lost 83-48 to top-seeded Brainerd.
The Lumberjacks find themselves traveling on a rocky road again this season as they are 1-10 heading into the new year. They have, however, displayed continual improvement and seem poised to have a successful 2014.
Winter came late last year, much to the delight of most Bemidji area residents. Among those who were not enjoying the lack of winter, however, were the high school Nordic skiers.
When ample snow finally arrived the BHS skiers were ready to go and by season’s end they made the most of their opportunities. Headlining the team’s success were the state-qualifying efforts of Tony and Kyle Sagedahl on the boys team plus Morgan Sagedahl and Jenna Truedson on the girls side.
At the state meet Kyle Sagedahl placed 43rd while Tony was 62nd. Truedson was 66th in the girls race and Morgan Sagedahl was 87th.
The Lumberjack wrestlers were seeded sixth in the Section 8-2A team tournament but in the section quarterfinals they bounced No. 3 Brainerd 39-24, reversing a 39-34 regular season loss two weeks earlier.
BHS pounced on the Warriors, winning the first four matches and exploding to a 21-0 lead.
The team portion of the campaign came to an end in the next match as Bemidji lost 58-12 to No. 2 seed Little Falls.
Individually, however, Brian Maas won the 113 pound section title, Logan Crosby claimed the 126 division and Kade Johnson won at 170. Maas eventually placed fifth at state with a 3-2 record and finished the year with a 40-5 record.
Crosby (37-6) was sixth at state and Johnson (39-6) went 2-2 but did not place. During the regular season Crosby reached triple figures in wins when he edged Nick Bruss of Nashwauk-Keewatin 4-3.
Earlier this winter Maas also gained membership in the triple-figure victory club. He and Johnson also own two invitational championships and last week helped BHS finish fourth in the giant 33-team Big Bear tournament hosted by BCLB.
Bemidji also was represented at the state Class A swimming and diving meet and leading the Lumberjacks was Sam Howard who finished ninth in diving.
During this winter’s home opener against Park Rapids on Dec. 17 Howard continued his success as he set a BHS record by earning a score of 279.70 from the judges.
Also swimming at state last year were Tyler Hemp who was 14th in the 100 breast stroke and 25th in the 200 free, and the 200 free medley relay squad of Nate Gubbels, Hemp, Matt Arndt and Nick Gubbels which placed 15th.
The Lumberjacks gymnasts finished fourth at last winter’s Section 8A meet, scoring 129.575. Sara Erickson’s 33.45 all around score was Bemidji’s best.
The girls basketball team started slowly and ended the campaign 8-18. BHS drew the seventh seed in the section playoffs and was playing its best basketball at the end. The Jacks, however, did not have enough firepower in a 53-45 loss to second-seeded Rogers in the section quarterfinals.
The girls hockey team advanced to the section semifinal where it lost 3-0 to Wright County. The River Hawks scored a pair of early goals and made the lead stand.
BHS finished the season 11-10-5 and, after the campaign, coach Bob Brink announced that he would resign so he could spend more time with his family. During the offseason Jackie Robertson, who was Bemidji’s assistant junior varsity coach last year, was elevated to head coach.
Bemidji’s boys hockey team also saw its season come to an end in the section semifinals. BHS finished 8-17-2 and, after defeating St. Cloud Tech 6-2 in the opening round of the playoffs, the Jacks fell 5-1 at Moorhead in the semifinals.
The high school community lost also lost a great friend and benefactor last winter when former BHS activities director and boys basketball coach Jack Luoma died.
Luoma, 86, died due to complications of Parkinson’s and a broken hip but his legacy will live on with those who played with and for him.
Among his coaching accomplishments was guiding the Lumberjacks basketball team to the state championship in the 1973-74 season.
Luoma also is one of only six people who are enshrined in both the Bemidji High School and BSU Halls of fame.
“He was a people person and, generally,pretty easy going, but you had to work hard,” said Perry Dreyer who was a guard on the state championship team. “If you were working hard, playing hard and made a physical mistake, it was OK. But if you made a mental mistake because your head wasn’t in the game, that wasn’t OK.
“His message was work hard and good things will come,” Dreyer added. “I know most of us still live by that in our lives today. And Jack taught us that.”
The winter that would never leave hampered every BHS spring sports program. Cancellations of games and meets and mad scrambles to find a place to practice were the norm.
Some of the teams were able to cram an entire season of competition into a few weeks while others had to prepare for the postseason with a very limited schedule.
“The weather and not being able to compete certainly isn’t enjoyable for anybody,” said BHS activities director Troy Hendricks in mid-April. “For us, we have pushed everything back as far as we can and our next option will be cancellations.”
Bemidji High School’s track and field teams were able to move indoors while the track was covered by snow and probably were the least affected of the BHS programs by the lingering winter. By season’s end the Jacks were in top form and they capped the year by sending six girls and seven boys to the state meet. Among the girls at state was Jenna Truedson who overcame a close call to win the state championship in the girls mile.
The runners in the girls Class 2A mile race were bunched as they began the last lap. Among the leaders of the group were Truedson and Danielle Anderson of Eagan.
Both competitors were among the favorites to claim the state championship and both were right where they wanted to be heading into the final lap.
Anderson, however, stumbled and fell to the track. Truedson happened to be right behind Anderson when the Eagan runner hit the ground and only some quick thinking and some great legwork prevented the Lumberjack sophomore from suffering a similar fate.
Truedson was able to straddle the fallen runner, regain her stride and return to the task at hand. During that final lap Truedson made up all of the lost ground and when she hit the finish line the sophomore was crowned the Class 2A state champion with a time of 4 minutes, 59.75 seconds.
“I almost went with the girl when she tripped,” Truedson said. “But, somehow I avoided her and moved on.”
Truedson’s championship in the mile helped lift the BHS girls to fifth place in the final standings with 35 points. Minnetonka won the state title with 94.5 and Lakeville South tallied 79. The spread from third to ninth, however, was only 14 points and Bemidji was right in that mix.
“We finished fifth in the state and I think that is the highest the program has placed in a long time,” said Jacks girls coach Chris Lehman. “It has been a phenomenal year and seeing Jenna win a state championship is a great way to finish the season.”
Bemidji had two other top-five finishes as Amber Peterson was fifth in the pole vault and Allie Heifort fifth in the shot put. Peterson cleared 11-3 with ease but on her first attempt at 11-6 the senior rolled her ankle on the landing. She tried to continue but her chances of going higher were over.
Heifort advanced to Saturday’s finals by throwing 40-9.25 during the preliminaries and she couldn’t better that distance with any of her final three throws. The senior ended her career with a pair of top-10 finishes as she also was eighth in the discus.
Maea Wall added a pair of team points by placing eighth in the 400 with a time of 58.32. She also anchored Bemidji’s 4x400 relay team which finished in 4:06.37 and claimed ninth place. Amy Carey ran the lead lap and was followed by Megan Serratore and Truedson.
In the boys state meet Gunnar Nelson, Nick Gubbels, Sam Carlson and Elias Hendrickson represented Bemidji in the 4x800 relay race and they hit full stride at the right time.
Their time of 7:47.92 in the state meet finals shattered the mark of Bemidji’s 2011 team which won the state title and was the third fastest time ever run at the Minnesota state meet. Unfortunately, Eden Prairie posted the second fastest state time in the race and the Lumberjacks had to settle for second place.
Eden Prairie finished in 7:47.61 as Eagles anchor Cal Lawton hit the line an eyelash ahead of Hendrickson.
“We broke the school record. We ran a great race,” said BHS coach Steve Sneide. “The guys ran their hardest and gave everything they had. We can only control what we do. We ran the third fastest 4x800 in state history but on Saturday Eden Prairie was just a little faster than we were.”
Later Saturday Hendrickson claimed fourth in the 800 with a time of 1:55.18,Carlson finished 16th in the mile at 4:26.09 and Brady Schmidt was 16th in the long jump as he sailed 19-9.25.
Sarah Hamrin made TrekNorth history last spring as she was the first athlete in school history to qualify for the state Class A track meet. Hamrin qualified in the two-mile when she placed second at the Section 8A meet.
The boys tennis team finally began its season on April 18 with a 6-1 win over East Grand Forks. A week later the Jacks staged their home opener but the triangular was moved indoors to the BSU Rec Center.
BHS experienced an unexpected sudden end to its season, however, when it fell 4-3 to Moorhead in the section tournament. Earlier in the season BHS defeated the Spuds twice, both by 5-2 scores.
BHS ended its campaign with an 11-4 record. In the individual tournament Matt Hokanson and Noah Holter placed third in the section doubles tournament.
On April 26 the baseball team finally hit the diamond as it headed to the Twin Cities where it defeated Minneapolis South 5-2.
The softball team also began its season that day, heading to Monticello where it earned a split of the doubleheader.
The softball team quickly made up for lost time as it took an 11-game winning streak into the section playoffs. That streak also vaulted the Jacks into the top seed as determined by the QRF ratings and the tie-breakers.
Bemidji held the home field advantage for the section playoffs and in its first game the Jacks downed St. Cloud Apollo 6-3. In the semifinals BHS lost 7-4 to Brainerd.
A few days later Bemidji stayed alive with a 3-1 win over Alexandria, which set up a rematch with Brainerd. The Jacks outlasted the Warriors 3-2 in 13 innings to advance to the championship game against Elk River. But the rigors of the marathon with Brainerd took its toll and Elk River blanked BHS 5-0 in the title series.
Bemidji ended with a 20-5 record, its best season in more than 10 years.
The baseball team received the fifth seed in the section tournament and opened at Brainerd against Sartell. The Jacks blitzed Sartell 10-0 but in their second game of the day they lost 13-3 to Brainerd. A few days later BHS dropped a 6-0 contest to St. Michael-Albertville and the season was over. The Jacks finished 12-9.
The boys golf team had to wait until May 4 for its opener at Staples and the girls opened a few days later. Neither the boys nor the girls programs sent anybody to the state meet.
The 2012-13 seasons at BHS were capped by the annual athletic banquet. Among the honored were Allie Heifort and Connor McNallan who were named the top Senior Athletes of the Year.
Heifort participated in volleyball, hockey and track while McNallan played soccer and football in the fall, basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring.
Richard Rude also was honored as the Lumberjack Award winner which goes to a business or person who is a true fan.
Also celebrated at the athletic banquet were the accomplishments of four distinguished alumni. Because of what they did while Lumberjacks athletes, and what they have done since their high school days, Jim Lawrence, Dennis Aguiar, Bob Saeger and Rob Aitken were inducted into the BHS Athletic Hall of Fame.
Another coaching change was made during the summer when Woody Leindecker decided to step down from the boys swimming duties. Leindecker had held that position since 2004 but he felt that he needed to take the winter off.
Leindecker did retain his girls coaching position, however.
Shortly after Leindecker’s resignation BHS officials announced that assistant coach Megan Fuller would move up to the head coaching ranks.
The BHS girls tennis team posted 16-1 regular-season dual record and finished the year 18-2 after losing to Monticello in the section semifinals. Individually, the doubles team of Annika Johnson and Olivia Dickinson advanced to the section semifinals where it lost to St. Cloud Tech.
The Jacks football team advanced to the section semifinals before losing at Chisago Lakes and finishing the year at 7-3. During the regular season Bemidji and Brainerd battled in a classic game that wasn’t decided until the final minute. Brainerd was just a little better than the Jacks and the Warriors went on to win 24-20.
The girls soccer team was placedt into Class 2A by MSHSL officials this fall and in the section quarterfinals the Jacks lost 4-1 at Elk River. Bemidji ended its season with a 10-7 record.
The boys soccer team went 5-8-3 during the regular season and advanced to the section semifinals where it lost 5-1 to Sartell.
The volleyball team started slowly this year but was playing very well at the end of the regular season. The Jacks, however, saw their streak of two straight trips to the state tournament come to an end when they lost in four sets at Moorhead in the section semifinals.
Advancing to state, however, were the boys and girls cross country teams. The boys earned their second straight appearance at state by winning the section title on the strength of Sam Carlson’s individual championship. The girls were led by Jenna Truedson who was third at the section meet.
The boys finished seventh in the 16-team state field and Carlson was eighth individually. The girls placed 10th and Truedson was third.
The girls swimmers and divers joined the cross country teams as section champions as they dominated the 8A meet and advanced five individuals and two relay teams to the state meet.
At the state the Jacks finished 18th overall and Kylei Grosfield led the charge as she placed second in diving. Also placing were the 200 free and 400 free relay teams. Both teams included Danielle Hoven, Erin Arndt, Morgan Williams and Libby McRae.
The 200 free relay set a school record with a time of 1:41.41. The 400 relay squad also set a school record and finished ninth at 3:43.51.
Arndt was 14th in the 200 individual medley and McRae was 13th in the 500 free.