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Bemidji girls swimmers open state meet Thursday in Minneapolis

Seven members of the Bemidji High School girls swimming and diving team will compete at the state meet over the next three days. The group includes divers Jana Hedstrom and Kylei Grosfield (front) plus swimmers Lexie Hendricks, Steph Fry, Erin Arndt, Kenzie Timms and Danielle Hoven. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

With two divers and five swimmers competing in five individual events and two relays, the Bemidji girls swimming and diving team is looking forward to the state meet which begins Thursday at noon with the diving preliminaries.

The swimming preliminaries will be Friday and the top 16 divers and swimmers will advance to Saturday's consolation and championship rounds.

Bemidji's divers are senior Jana Hedstrom and seventh grader Kylei Grosfield. Swimming in individual events Friday will be Steph Frey in the 200 individual medley and the 100 free, Lexie Hendricks in the 500 free and 200 free plus Erin Arndt in the 100 butterfly.

Arndt and Frey also will compete in the 200 free and 400 free relays along with Kenzie Timms and Danielle Hoven.

Lumberjacks coach Woody Leindecker believes that many of his swimmers and divers could advance to Saturday's consolation and championship finals and his athletes share that optimism.

"I'm hoping to make the top 16 after Friday's preliminaries and make it to Saturday in both events," Hendricks, who was 21st at last year's state meet in the 500, said.

"This will be my second time at state and the experience I gained last year will be a big help. I think that last year I was at state just to swim but this year I am here to compete.

"I'm excited to be back and excited to try and make it to Saturday's round," the junior added.

Frey is the veteran of the group in terms of state meet experience as the junior is making her third appearance. In 2010 she finished seventh in the 200 free and third in the 100 breast stroke. Ironically, she didn't enter either of those events at the Section 8A meet, opting instead for the 200 IM and the 100 free.

"I probably could have made it back to state in the 100 free and the breast stroke but this year we thought that the 200 IM and the 100 free would be good events for me," Frey said. "Since I'm swimming two different events this year my goal is to duplicate or better last year's finishes."

Leindecker said it is rare for a swimmer to make a return appearance at the state meet in different events. But he is not surprised that Frey has been able to accomplish the feat.

"This just demonstrates Steph's versatility," Leindecker said. "Right now I have a tough time figuring out what her best events are but we thought she would have a great opportunity to score high in the 100 free and because of her breast stroke we knew she could do well in the IM."

Arndt enjoys swimming the butterfly stroke and she is eagerly awaiting the chance to swim at the state meet.

"The 100 fly is my favorite event," the sophomore said. "It's a hard event but I felt very good at the section meet.

"I'm not sure what will happen at state but my goal will be to drop some time and see where that puts me," Arndt continued. "All I want to do is swim my best and if I do that I'll be happy with wherever I finish."

The Jacks will also be entered in the 200 and 400 free relays and joining Arndt and Frey on those units are Timms and Hoven.

Timms is a senior co-captain and said that her final year as a Lumberjack swimmer has been very rewarding.

"I'm proud of this team," she said. "We worked hard and wanted to win the section and advance athletes to state. It is sweet that we finally won section my senior year."

Individually, Timms also is elated to be heading to the University of Minnesota pool for Friday's preliminaries.

"This is my first time at state and it is great to make it as part of the relays," she said. "I've never been to state, not even to watch, and this will be my last hurrah so I'm going to give it everything I have."

Hoven, a sophomore, is also excited to be a part of the two state-bound relays and as the third leg in the race her job is to set the table for Frey's anchor.

"There really is no strategy in these relays," she said. "My responsibility is to go all out and do the best I can to make some room for Steph.

"It's really nice to make it as a member of this relay because it will give me valuable experience for the coming years."

"Danielle is a great sprinter and is the perfect swimmer to have in front of Steph," Leindecker said. "I know she will swim as hard as she can to set things up for the final leg.

"Right now our relays are seeded about 12th to 14th but I know we will swim faster than we did at sections and I think we can be in the championship division on Saturday," the coach continued.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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