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Paul Bunyan Invite: Jacks test out in different events and find success

Bemidji's Kim Truedson, left, takes the hand-off from Amber Peterson in the final leg of the 4x800 race at the Paul Bunyan Invitational on Thursday afternoon. Alex Schoenberger, pictured at right, is the anchor in the 4x800 race. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

The indoor meets for the Bemidji High School track and field squads are designed to give insight into the potential of the athletes.

Thursday night at Paul Bunyan Invitational held at the Gillett Rec Center, the Lumberjacks coaches learned that there are few limits to what could be accomplished this spring.

"We tried different kids in different events," said BHS girls coach Chris Lehman. "We experimented with the lineup. We learned that we have depth. We learned the events the kids like and don't like. And we learned which events the kids can excel in.

"We also learned that our younger kids, especially the freshmen, have no fear," Lehman added.

In the 4x400 relay, four of the fearless freshmen combined to finish third. Dani Gronhovd, Steph Frey, Amber Peterson and Amber Solheim combined for a time of 4:39.50 and that performance caught the eye of the coach.

"All four of them ran a great race," Lehman said. "They didn't back down from the runners from the larger schools. They all competed and passed people who were in their way."

BHS boys coach Steve Sneide also was impressed with how his athletes performed.

"Thursday's goal was to have the kids do different events and use this meet as a training day," Sneide said. "We worked on little aspects of technique. We weren't looking at team scores.

"When you work on technique a performance may suffer because you are focusing on the smaller parts of the overall product. But by the end of the year, all of those smaller parts come together and you will reap the rewards."

For the record, the Bemidji girls team placed third overall with 76 points while the boys were fourth with 68. Capturing the girls division was Grand Forks Red River with 185 and Crookston was a distant second with 81.33. Bagley-Fosston finished fifth with 66.5.

Red River also claimed the boys crown with 204.5 points. Fargo South was second with 117.5 and Grand Forks Central was third with 117. Bagley-Fosston placed seventh with 18.

Bemidji captured two individual titles and a relay race.

Bailey Drewes won the 1600 in 5:32.26 and Kim Truedson set the pace in the 3200. The Jacks also won the 4x800 relay in 10:28.24 behind Drewes, Truedson, Solheim and Peterson.

Lehman was impressed by those performances and also by the runner-up finishes of Amanda Hunt in the high jump (5-0) and Tiffany Mason in the pole vault (8-6).

"Tiffany practiced her vaulted outside only once this year and her personal best is 8-8 so this is a very good performance," Lehman said. "Amanda's personal best in the high jump is 5-2 and 5-0 is where she finished last year."

Alli Heifort made her debut in the shot put and placed third at 34-3.

"For the first throw ever that is a great distance," Lehman said.

In the boys competition the Jacks won the 4x800 in 8:30.63. Individually, John Buckanaga placed second in the 1600 (4:46.75), Dan Clemenson was third in the 3200 (10:19.80), Andy Berube was fourth in the event (10:32.50), Isak Sommer was fourth in the 1600 (4:59.02) and Zach Declusin was fifth in the high jump (5-6).

"We had quite a few personal records today and those are signs of what the kids can do," Sneide said. "The coaches all know that the kids have the ability and Thursday I think they proved to themselves that they can do it."

The Most Valuable Athlete award in the girls division was won by Analisa Hueschle of Bagley-Fosston. She won the 200 (26.09), long jump (17-11) and triple jump (37-0).

Paul Shafer of Grand Forks Central and Elby Pope of Grand Forks Red River shared the boys MVP award.

Bemidji will close its indoor campaign Tuesday when it returns to the Gillett Rec Center for the Little Amik II meet. The events will begin at 1 p.m.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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