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Bemidji State hockey: Beavers fall to No. 14 in national polls

The Bemidji State University men's ice hockey team slipped to No. 14 in both major national NCAA Division I men's ice hockey polls this week following a College Hockey America series split at Niagara University last weekend.

The Beavers, who are 15-5-2 overall and 9-1-0 in CHA play, saw a comeback fall short Friday, 6-4, and battled to salvage a series split with a 4-3 victory Saturday, but dipped to 14 in both the USAToday/USA Hockey Magazine and College Sports polls.

The No. 14 billing in the national publications is down three spots from last week's rankings (11) and 11 positions lower than the team's high water mark of No. 4 set Dec. 7, 2009. Bemidji State has now been ranked among the nation's top 15 men's ice hockey teams for a school record 14 weeks, but the No. 14 standing is the Beavers' lowest since they were No. 14/15 Oct. 26.

For the second consecutive week, Denver owned the nation's No. 1 spot in both polls.

The Beavers have now made an appearance in every poll of the 2009-10 season and remain the CHA's only program to appear in either publication.

The Beavers (15-5-2) turn their focus from CHA play to face one of the nation's hottest teams. This weekend, BSU enters a home-and-home series with No. 4 University of Minnesota Duluth (16-7-1). The non-conference, two-game set gets underway at 7:35 p.m. Friday at BSU's John S. Glas Fieldhouse.

Saturday the teams hit the ice at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center for a 7:07 p.m. opening face off.

The Bemidji State University men's and women's track and field teams captured nine event titles Saturday at BSU's Super 8 Invitational.

Junior sprinter Kristi Buerkle lead the way for the contingent gaining victories in the 200- and 400-meter events, provisionally qualifying for the NCAA Division II indoor championships in both races.

Buerkle's time of 25.92 in the 200-meters stands as her best of the young 2010 indoor season, is the second fastest time posted in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference this year and ranks her 13th in the nation. Her 57.61 in the 400, also a season-best, is the league's top time and seats her fifth among the NCAA Division II fastest 400-meter competitors. In addition, she also anchored the Beavers' 4x400-meter team that placed second at the meet.

Also standing out for BSU was Missy Kelsey (Graber). The senior posted her best distance off the season to capture top women's weight throw honors, stretching the tape to 46-04.00.

The BSU men, who totaled six event crowns, placed well in all facets of the meet. Tiger Ellison and Mark Buerkle took home sprint titles in the 55-meter (6.58) and 400-meter races (57.61) respectively.

Billy Sackett won the 5,000-meter run (17:31.06) to represent the Beavers' distance runners and on the field, Nate Bahr finished first in the triple jump (42-11.00).

Kyle Christianson took top honors in the weight throw with a season-best toss of 50-10.25 to place sixth in the NSIC.

But the team was led by Brian Leonhardt who out-distanced the shot put field with a 2010-best throw of 47-11.00 and took second in the weight throw (49-00.75).

The Beavers are back in action this weekend as they prepare to compete in the University of Wisconsin-Superior's Blizzard Open. Events are set to get underway at the UWS Health and Wellness Center at noon Saturday.