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Pat Miller: This Week at Bemidji High School - It’s on to state for Jacks

The winter seasons are nearing their end but before the action officially turns the corner a handful of Bemidji athletes hope to make some noise at the state meet level.

The group includes wrestlers Brian Maas and Kade Johnson, diver Sam Howard plus swimmers Tyler Hemp, Nate Gubbels, Matthew Arndt and Wyatt Yartz.

Over the weekend Maas and Johnson each won individual championships at the Section 8-3A wrestling meet in Sartell and qualified for the state tournament. Maas dominated the field at the 113-pound weight class, winning two straight matches after an opening-round bye and blitzing Austin Brenner of St. Cloud Tech 10-1 in the title bout.

Johnson, who entered the section meet ranked No. 3 in the state in his weight class, doesn’t waste much time when he hits that mat at 182 pounds. During the Section 8-3A meet the senior won all three of his matches, two by first-period pins and the other a 21-4 technical fall.

The weekend successes gave Johnson a 40-0 record heading into Friday’s opener at the state meet against Jimmy Kaiser of Mounds View (18-10). Johnson’s resume also includes 37 pins.

Maas, a junior, is 39-0 and is the top-rated 113-pound wrestler in Minnesota. His opener at the state will be against Adam Kunz of Rocori (29-9).

Bemidji also will be looking to make an impression at the state Class A swimming and diving meet which begins Thursday at the University of Minnesota pool.

Howard will open the meet as the senior will be one of 18 divers competing in the Class A field. Howard has been ranked among the state’s best divers all season and during Saturday’s section meet he finished second after scoring 452.15 from the judges.

Reid Magnuson of Fergus Falls won the section crown with 498.45.

Hemp posted a pair of runner-up finishes at the section meet, placing second in the 200 individual medley and in the 100 breast stroke. The top two finishers in each event, plus any relay team or swimmers who reached the state standard times in their events, advanced to the state meet.

Meeting the state standard was how Bemidji’s 200 medley relay team made it to state. The Jacks finished third in the event but the time of 1:42.48 bettered the state standard of 1:44.37.

Comprising the relay team are Gubbels, Hemp, Arndt and Yartz.

The swimmers will begin their state experience noon Friday. If they finish in the top 16 after the preliminary round they will return for Saturday’s championship and consolation finals.

Basketball playoffs begin

The Section 8-4A boys basketball officials determined their tournament seedings on Sunday and, as expected, Bemidji was ranked eighth in the field.

St. Cloud Tech (22-3) was given the top seed even though its QRF rating of 256.0 was lower than Buffalo’s 268.9 QRF. The QRF was supposed to determine the seeds but, as is often the case, a regular season head-to-head result took precedence. During the Christmas holidays St. Cloud Tech thumped the Bison 68-53 and that victory gave Tech the top seed and the opportunity to host Bemidji today at 7 p.m.

Today’s other quarterfinal matchups see No. 2 Buffalo entertaining No. 7 Rogers, fourth-seeded St. Michael-Albertville welcoming No. 5 Moorhead and third-ranked Elk River hosting No. 6 Brainerd.

The quarterfinal winners will head to St. Cloud State on Saturday for the semifinals. The section title will be decided on March 6 at a neutral site.

The only other winter sports program at BHS that remains in season is girls basketball and the Jacks will complete their regular season this week on the road.

Today finds Bemidji at Grand Rapids and on Friday they will visit Brainerd.

BHS (4-19) is expected to be the eighth seed and will begin its postseason Tuesday, March 4 at the home of the top seed. That spot is currently held by St. Michael-Albertville (18-4).

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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