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Pat Miller: This week at Bemidji High School - Howard, Maas, Johnson among best in the state

Bemidji’s Brian Maas, pictured pinning Michael Petron of Royalton, is rated No. 1 in the state’s Class 3A division at 113 pounds. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer 1 / 3
Lumberjack senior Kade Johnson is among the state’s top wrestlers at 182 pounds. Last week Johnson gained another spot in the state rankings and he enters this week’s action ranked No. 3. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer 2 / 3
Bemidji senior Sam Howard is having a great year and currently is the top-ranked Class A diver in Minnesota. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer 3 / 3

Individual effort always spurs team success and this winter a trio of Bemidji High School athletes are leading by example.

As we enter the home stretch of the regular season Bemidji diver Sam Howard rules the roost in Class A. Earlier this winter the senior set a school record by earning 279.70 points with six dives in a home meet against Park Rapids. That score is the high-water mark among all of the state’s Class A divers and Howard currently is ranked No. 1 in the state.

A few weeks ago at the Section 5A True Team meet Howard established another school record when he scored 435.45 with his 11-dive routine.

Last winter Howard finished ninth at the state Class A meet with an 11-dive score of 327.95. Joe McGrath of Hill-Murray won the state title with 397.25, a mark which was the best in the state last winter but one that is well behind Howard’s performance in the True Team.

The wrestling team has two athletes who dominate at their weight classes. At 113 pounds junior Brian Maas is ranked No. 1 in Class 3A and at 182 senior Kade Johnson begins the week rated No. 3.

Both wrestlers are 26-0 this season and both have their eyes set on state-tournament success.

“In the recent history of Bemidji’s wrestling program it has been unusual for us to have two wrestlers rated this high,” said BHS coach Rance Bahr. “Back about 2005 and 2006 we had Joe Anderson, Greg Skerik, Kaleb Young, Chris Miller and several others who had very good records and went to state but Brian and Kade are showing the way now.”

The school record for individual victories in a single season is 44. Back in 2005 heavyweight Chris Miller posted 44 victories and 34 of them were pins. The latter figure also is thought to represent a Lumberjacks standard.

Maas and Johnson both have legitimate shots at bettering the single-season victory total and Johnson is on target to set a new record for most pins.

“In Kade’s 26 wins he went the distance one time and had one forfeit,” Bahr said. “So now he has 24 pins and I think he could break that record.”

Maas is dedicated to his sport and uses speed, quickness and instinct to succeed.

“Brian has put the time and effort into wrestling,” Bahr said. “Everything he does all year revolves around wrestling.

“Unlike Kade, who is incredibly strong and overpowers an opponent once he gets him down,” Brian is good on his feet and most of his pins come on the next move after a takedown,” the coach added.

Minnesota High School League rules permit a wrestler to have 36 matches during the regular season and, because of this winter’s cancellations due to the weather, BHS was short of that target.

“That is why we added Saturday’s invitational at Fertile,” Bahr said. “We wanted to give Brian, Kade and others more matches.”

Johnson, Maas and their teammates will have a busy week, at least if the weather cooperates.

Today finds the Jacks heading to Little Falls where they will face the home team at 5 p.m. and Alexandria at 6:30 p.m. On Thursday BHS will welcome Roseau at 5 p.m. and Brainerd about 7:30 p.m.

The week will end Saturday at Fertile.

Howard and the swimmers also hope to compete today as they are scheduled to make a trip to Grand Rapids. Today’s action originally was scheduled for Jan. 2 but was postponed until today because of dangerous weather. On Saturday the swimmers will compete in the Hibbing Invitational.

The girls basketball team will have the home spotlight as it tries for the second time to entertain Thief River Falls. The game was supposed to be played Jan. 7 but was pushed back because of the cold.

On Friday BHS (3-13) will host East Grand Forks.

Today’s schedule also sees the girls hockey team making the trip to Moorhead. Bemidji is on a hot streak as it is 4-0-1 in its last five games and is coming off Saturday’s 3-1 win over Alexandria.

The regular season will end Friday at River Lakes and the section seedings will be determined on Monday.

The boys hockey team played one of its best games of the season Saturday, dominating Alexandria which was ranked No. 16 in the state’s Class A poll. The Jacks led from the first period until the final minute of regulation when Alexandria tied the game 1-1. Neither team scored in the extra session so BHS had to settle for the 1-1 draw.

On Thursday the Lumberjacks (8-9-1) visit Roseau and on Saturday they will host River Lakes at 3 p.m.

The skiers have been snakebit this winter. The early snow brought the prospect of an uninterrupted campaign but the cold weather has severely limited the schedule.

Saturday’s Bemidji Invitational was a casualty of the cold but BHS is hoping for a break in the weather on Thursday when it travels to Detroit Lakes for the final regular season meet.

The gymnasts resume their season Friday at home against Park Rapids while the boys basketball team hosts Moorhead 3 p.m. Saturday in its lone action of the week.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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