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Pat Miller: This week at BHS - Transition time has ended

When there is significant roster turnover from one year to the next it is not unusual for a team to struggle at the beginning of the season. Successful programs, however, do not allow that transition to linger past the first few weeks.

It seems as if the transition period for the Bemidji High School teams has already ended and that the coaches and players now can concentrate on fine-tuning their talents rather than spending time adjusting to new players in new positions.

The next five days offers many opportunities to improve as the eight fall sports programs will be involved in 21 events.

Last week the Lumberjacks compiled an 8-1-1 record in head-to-head action, the lone loss coming in overtime. Last week's results also saw the swimmers and divers win the 9-team Hibbing Invitational and the girls tennis team place second at a tournament hosted by Hibbing.

The tennis team also went 3-0 in dual action while the boys soccer squad was 1-0-1 and the volleyball team posted a 2-0 record. After a slow start the football team battered Fergus Falls 52-29, scoring 28 unanswered points in the third quarter. Also last week the girls soccer team defeated Walker-Hackensack-Akeley 7-0 before losing 2-1 in overtime to Moorhead.

The volleyball team was hit the hardest by graduation as the majority of its offensive arsenal had to be replaced. Only two of last year's regulars, Hanna Olson and Alexa Greendahl, were back and figuring out who should play where was the challenge facing the coaching staff.

The Jacks took their lumps at the outset, losing their first three matches in straight sets. In the past two weeks, however, BHS has turned the corner with sweeps of Moorhead and Brainerd plus last Thursday's thrilling and spirited four-set home victory over Nevis. Both Nevis and Bemidji participated in the 2012 state tournament, BHS placing sixth in Class 3A and Nevis claiming the Class A consolation crown.

Greendahl is the Lumberjacks' setter and in the Nevis match the junior delivered 41 set assists. She knows what it takes for the Lumberjacks to be successful and right now she likes what she is seeing.

"We struggled in our first three matches because we lost so many strong players from last year's team," Greendahl said. "It took some time for us to get together. But right now we are jelling and it's an awesome feeling.

"We're excited."

BHS will learn more about its progression and potential this week as the Jacks travel to Roseau tonight and head to Apple Valley on the weekend.

Roseau will take an 8-3 record and a four-match winning streak into today's action while the field at the 16-team Apple Valley competition boasts seven teams which participated in last year's state tournament.

Included in that group are Class 3A champion Lakeville North, Class 2A winner Marshall and Bethlehem Academy which won the Class A crown.

Bemidji's first match will be against Marshall and in the second round the Lumberjacks will face either Waconia or Lakeville North.

Also in the field are Apple Valley, Hopkins, Shakopee, Blaine, Eagan, Alexandria, Andover, Eden Prairie, Lakeville South, Moorhead and Chaska.

The girls soccer team (4-4) is in the midst of a six-game homestand. The home action began last week with a 7-0 win over Walker-Hackensack-Akeley. On Saturday the Jacks dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to Moorhead and Monday night they hosted Hillcrest Lutheran Academy.

The homestand continues this week with today's game against Duluth East, Thursday's game against East Grand Forks and Saturday's game against Brainerd.

Mark Fodness' tennis team also has a busy week, hosting Crookston and Detroit Lakes today, entertaining Thief River Falls 7 p.m. Thursday and facing Moorhead and Fergus Falls Friday in Moorhead.

Bemidji takes a 7-1 dual record into the week.

Today also finds the boys and girls cross country teams at Bagley. They will also be in action Saturday when the Lumberjacks visit Milaca.

The swimming and diving team performed very well Saturday at Hibbing and was rewarded with the championship of the Hibbing Invitational. Tonight BHS will head to Warroad for its lone competition for the week.

Bemidji's boys soccer team will travel to St. Cloud Cathedral today for its annual regular-season meeting with its main nemesis. It has become customary for BHS and Cathedral to square off in the postseason and St. Cloud Cathedral has always found a way to win and deny the Jacks a trip to the state tournament.

The section title isn't on the line tonight but the game does represent an opportunity for Bemidji to see how far it has progressed this season.

The Lumberjacks also hit the road Thursday when they visit Hibbing. Their week will end Saturday with a home game against Brainerd.

Bemidji's football team is 3-0 but the Jacks are still trying to put four quality quarters together. Last week during the 52-29 win at Fergus Falls BHS sputtered in the first half and trailed 21-14 at intermission. The Lumberjacks reversed their fortunes in the third quarter, however, outscoring the Prowlers 28-0 and turning what had been a tight game into a one-sided affair.

This week Bemidji visits Sartell. The Sabres are 1-2, sandwiching a 27-19 win over Alexandria with an opening night 14-0 loss to St. Cloud Tech and last week's 46-7 setback at the hands of Willmar.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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