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Bemidji High School swimming: Jacks open at state meet Friday

These five Bemidji High School swimmers begin action tonight at the state meet tonight at the University of Minnesota. From left to right, front: Nick Lee and Dylan Hoven; back: Mark Wilcox, Jared Vanasse and Tucker Asper. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

The Bemidji High swim team begins action tonight at the state high school swim meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center.

The boys basketball team will have the home spotlight, hosting Duluth Central's Trojans in a 7:30 game.

The Class 2A swim preliminaries are set to begin at 6 following the Class A prelims which went off at noon.

The same order and time format will follow tomorrow for the finals.

Diving prelims were held yesterday with 40 divers in each class competing to advance to Saturday as the top 16.

Tonight's preliminaries will narrow the field of 20-25 qualifiers down to the top eight who will compete for the championships tomorrow and the next eight who swim in the consolation finals.

Bemidji will enter perhaps its strongest contingent in many years with its five powerful freestylers entered in four individual events and the two free relays.

Last weekend they finished a strong second to Brainerd at the sectional at Alexandria winning the 50, 100 and 500 free and finishing a close second to Brainerd in both free relays.

Tonight's preliminaries will be the key as Bemidji tries to better its 37 points from last year which secured an 18th place finish among 41 teams that scored.

Either relay could get more than half of that total should it qualify for the finals where eighth place is worth 22 points.

Dylan Hoven, Nick Lee, Mark Wilcox and Jared Vanasse will swim the 200 while Tucker Asper, Lee, Vanasse and Wilcox will go in the 400.

Both broke school records at the sectional with the 200 clocked at 1:28.38 and the 400 at 3:15.58. They will likely have to better those times to gain the final eight tonight.

Both were only a half second behind Brainerd.

In the individual events, Asper will swim the 200 free after bettering the state qualifying time at the sectional with a third place finish.

Wilcox took second in the IM to advance while Hoven won the 50 with Vanasse bettering the qualifying time in third place.

Wilcox advanced as champion in the 100 and Asper did likewise in the 500.

Bemidji has bettered the 37 points total five times in its history toped by th99 recorded in 1995 when Derek Berg led Bemidji to its only top 10 finish, scoring 99 points to take ninth place.

Second best is the 55 in 1997 led by Randy Kraft, the second year of Coach Woody Leindecker's first term as head coach. He is now in his fifth in his second time around.

Asper, Vanasse and Lee will be concluding their careers this weekend, all six-year perfumers in the program.

Wilcox returns for his senior year in 2010 while Hoven has two years remaining.

Boys basketball

The basketball team will be favored tonight on its home court after regaining the winning touch last weekend at Park Rapids.

That came after its worst showing of the year a week earlier at Rocori.

BHS is 14-9 and assured its first winning year since 2005.

Wins tonight and against Duluth East Monday would equal the 16 scored that year.

Central is 11-14 against a somewhat less demanding schedule.

The teams have met only two common opponents, Central falling to Cloquet by 20 and 11 points. a team Bemidji shaded 65-63 at Cloquet. The Trojans also lost to Grand Rapids by 32 while Bemidji fell by 20 and 23 to the Hawks.

Bemidji won at Central last year 60-56 with the Baker twins combining for 27 points and Ray Walker adding 10.

Walker and Czar Woods will roam the perimeter tonight with Simon Anderson flanked by Ryan Rude and Ryan Telander along the baseline.

Off the bench will come Joe Kingery, Sam Weaver, Nate McGriff, Dan Frost and Tony Baumgartner.

The B Team is also 14-9 while the freshmen are 10-8. That pair will end their season Monday.

East will offer a far stronger test. The Greyhounds are 12-11 entering this weekend losing to Grand Rapids by 19 and 22 but beating Cloquet handily twice with 80-58 and 83-57 wins over Central.

They were butchered by Apollo 94-46, a team Bemidji took down to the wire in a one point loss. The Hounds won last year's meeting 79-77 on their home court on a night when Bemidji had all five starters in double figures.