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Claypool, Anderson named Athletes of the Year

Meg Claypool and Simon Anderson were named Bemidji High School Athletes of the Year. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper1 / 2
Long-time assistant coach Howie Schultz was named winner of the Lumberjack Award. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper2 / 2

Five new members were formally inducted into the Bemidji High School Athletic Hall of Fame this week.

Their induction was the feature of the ninth annual event, swelling the ranks of the Hall to 60.

Joining the Hall were ex-athletes Lance Chambers, Joe Edlund, Greg Beaumont and Bob Whelan along with Coach/Athletic Director Jim Mergens.

Simon Anderson and Meg Claypool were named Athletes of the Year while long-time assistant football and wrestling coach Howie Schultz earned the Lumberjack Award.

Current AD Harvey Crable welcomed the large turnout congratulating the inductees and praising the senior letter winners and Most Valuable Players on the 24 Bemidji High teams for their accomplishments.

Mark Walters and Kelly Schoonover introduced the lettermen present. Only 32 of the more than100 attended.

Nearly all of the MVP winners were on hand, introduced by High School Principal Richard Anderson.

The four athletes entering the Hall were unanimous in their praise of their high school coaches.

Chambers led off the program telling the young athletes present that "it is truly an honor to have been a Lumberjack athlete."

"Participation in sports at BHS provided me with the greatest moments of my life."

He thanked a long list of coaches dating back to his days in youth baseball through his three-sport high school career for their efforts in teaching athletic skills as well as the skills of life.

"I am very proud and humble to be able to join such a list of featured athletes who already belong to the Hall."

Chambers, who went on to star in baseball at BSUJ, is now a school principal in Jordan. His oldest daughter, Brittany, who graduates this year, has become one of the all time leading basketball scorers in the state, headed to Kansas University next year to continue her basketball career.

Edlund, now a Bemidji chiropractor, called his induction a "privilege and an honor."

He also thanked all of his coaches in three sports and recounted some of the great moments of his career including the section title game in 1985 which sent Bemidji to the state meet.

Citing the long, proud tradition of Bemidji sports, he urged his young listeners to keep up that tradition.

"Don't ever be satisfied with being average, Strive to be far better than average and set your goals high. That is the only way you will succeed."

Beaumont, the only Nymore native of the four, stressed working hard to succeed.

He recalled his countless hours of play on the Nymore outdoor playgrounds and rinks with friend Tony Burke and Sam Lyseng which aided him to become a starter in basketball his senior year.

He also praised the great coaches he played under in football and basketball.

He shared linebacker duties with Whelan his senior year in football, noting it did not take long to discover that opponents ran all their plays to his side of the field, trying as much as possible to avoid Whelan's stellar play.

Specifically, he urged all the athletes present to find ways to give something back to their sport, if possible by coaching younger performers to gain the knowledge that they accumulated.

"Set your dreams high," he said, " and dream of going to the state. That was always our goal and achieving that goal is something you will never forget."

Now retired from his teaching and coaching position at Rocori, where he guided four teams to the state meet in18 seasons, he recalled that on his arrival he discovered that the coaches were required to write up their own ball games for that town's weekly newspaper.

With no writing experience, he said he was fortunate to still have his own scrapbooks and followed the guidelines of Pioneer the stories of his own high school and college careers to publicize his team.

Whelan, like Beaumont and Chambers a BHS and BSU star athlete, considered himself "the luckiest person alive to have profited from the guidance of his parents and coaches who aided him to achieve success, particularly in football and wrestling at both schools,

He went on to gain a national NAIA heavyweight title under Chet Anderson, "a man who had a tremendous influence on his career," he stated.

He also praised the great athletes he worked with in his10 years at BHS as teacher and coach. His son Rob recently stepped down after three season as at match coach.

Whelan is now a Bemidji business owner.

Mergens, the only non BHS athlete of the group, served as boys golf coach for four year and AD for the next four before his retirement. He then coached BSU women's golf for another four.

He cited the 12 year period in which Bemidji dominated boys; golf in the state, winning five titles, four in succession, while finishing second and third twice.

He was particularly praiseworthy of his predecessor Larry Perkins. a 2008 Hall inducted, who built that dynasty and turned over a star laden group of golfers for him to coach.

He also praised his assistant, Bryan Grand who he labeled the "greatest coach in Bemidji school history."

He cited his 1997 team that went through the season losing only once. That came at the Bemidji Invitational where the Bemidji B Team stopped the A Team to take the title.

One of his top players was Andy Brink, a six year starter who won Bemidji's only state individual title.

Middle School AD Troy Hendricks introduced Schultz as the Lumberjack Award winner.

The retired teacher and one time county sheriff, was a three-decade assistant in football and wrestling beginning at the junior high grid level with John Rossi in the early 1960's and working up to the freshman level with Ken Schmoker for several seasons.

He served as mat assistant under Schmoker and Ted Soular, ending the 1979 season as interim head coach.

He has long since been a staunch Lumberjacks supporter in many ways to further the success of the athletic program.

Drew Hildenbrand introduced Anderson and Claypool, both three sport athletes, as the Male and Female Athletes of the Year.

Anderson was football quarterback, basketball center and baseball pitcher/outfielder this year who has yet to announce which of several schools seeking his talents he will join next year.

Claypool, a star in volleyball, basketball and softball, will enter Wahpeton CC in North Dakota next year to play softball.

The annual athletic scholarship winners were announced by Assistant Principals Brian Stefanich and Sue Bruns.

Leah Collison won the Troy Nelson scholarship.

Anderson was named winner of the Des Sagedahl scholarship presented by the Sagedahl family and announced by his daughter Allison Berg.

The Bun and Elvira Fortier scholarship went to Trace Jahner, headed to Minot next year to play football.

Claypool was the winner of the George Pelawa Memorial scholarship.

The Red Wilson Scholarship was awarded to Sam Drewes while the Buck Robbins scholarship was earned by Joe Kingery, headed to North Dakota for football next fall.