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Teams, individuals en route to state competitions this month

Bemidji High School coach Rance Bahr kept his promise to his squad: If they won the section meet, he would wear a singlet to the pep fest. On Tuesday afternoon at a pep fest to honor the four high school groups heading to state competitions -- wrestlers, Math League, Mock Trial and swimmers -- Bahr was a good sport, revealing the wrestling outfit. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

Rance Bahr told his wrestlers if they won sectionals he would wear a singlet in front of the entire school.

The team won and the Bemidji High School wrestling coach delivered.

Bahr wore the form-fitting, white and blue wrestling uniform with pride at an all-school pep fest Tuesday afternoon as he announced the names of the students who qualified to make state tournament appearances.

Teams and individuals who qualified for state were given a fanfare of music and applause from students, staff and coaches during the pep fest, honoring them for their hard work.

Earlier this winter BHS was represented at the state Nordic ski meet by Bailey Drewes, Adam Holter and Tony Sagedahl.

Drewes and Holter finished 80th in their divisions while Sagedahl was 83rd.

"All three of our skiers were happy to be representing Bemidji at the state meet and they gave it their all," said BHS ski coach Mark Walters.

Representing their school is what drives state-tournament quality competitors and this winter the BHS athletic department can be proud of the students representing them in the post-season.

"This year we have the opportunity to do something special not only for ourselves but also for Bemidji," said BHS hockey coach Wade Chiodo whose team battles Moorhead 7 p.m. today in Thief River Falls for the Section 8AA championship.

Another Lumberjacks team with aspirations of reaching the state tournament is the boys basketball squad. BHS owned a 19-4 record prior to Tuesday's game against Thief River Falls and probably will be seeded second in the upcoming 8-3A tournament.

Set to compete at state this week are four swimmers, two individual wrestlers and the entire wrestling team.

The swimmers include Nick Gubbels, Nick Nyberg, Adam Falk and Dylan Hoven and collectively they will represent BHS in the 200 free, 500 free, 50 free, 100 free and the 200 free and 400 free relays.

On Friday wrestler Jake Crosby will do battle at state in the 125-pound division as will teammate Colton Doty at 140. Thursday Crosby and Doty will join their teammates for the team competition and a first-round state match-up against Prior Lake.

Two nonathletic teams beat regional rivals to earn the right to compete at the state competition. They are the Mock Trial team and the Math League.

This is the first year in more than one decade the Mock Trial team has made it to state. They will compete at the state competition March 8 in Duluth.

Thirteen students in Mock Trial will compete against other schools by arguing a court case in an actual courtroom. This year's trial is based on the murder of Elisabeth Congdon that took place in 1977 in Duluth's Glensheen mansion.

Local attorney Katie Knolting and BHS teacher Jeff Aas serve as coaches.

"That's a great accomplishment," Aas said of the Mock Trial's state appearance at the pep fest. "They've worked really hard this year."

BHS Math League coach Terry Hewitt said could not be more proud of his students. The Math League will compete in the state tournament March 14 at South St. Paul High School in St. Paul. This will be its 16th appearance in 20 years.

This season the League placed first at every meet. The team ended the season with 292 points, more than 100 points ahead of the second place finisher. Students Zach Hewitt, Yoyuan Pan and Ian Sweeney-Smith finished in first, second and third place at the regional meet. They will be joined six other students at state.

"We had no doubt we were going to state again," Hewitt said. "State is where we can measure ourselves against the tough competition and we're looking to improve our stance there."

BHS Principal Brian Stefanich said he could not be more proud of the teams and individuals who have already made and have yet to make state appearances.

"It's pretty exciting here," Stefanich said. "We couldn't be more proud of our students, athletes, coaches and advisors."

Stefanich said the pep fest was the culmination of a week that has been filled with excitement and school pride.

"It's excellent for school pride and school spirit," he said. "It's a testament to what goes on here and it backs that we are truly a Silver Medal School. We are proud of continuing to put the name 'Bemidji High School' at the state level. It's exciting times."

Activities Director Troy Hendricks said the success that teams and students have shown this season has created momentum for the spring and youth programs.

"There is a lot of excitement in the air with teams qualified and those yet to be determined," Hendricks said. "It's nice to see the kids rewarded for their work ethics and commitment. They and their coaches have put forth a lot of effort and obviously we want them all to succeed."