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Pat Miller: This Week at Bemidji High School - Ending the season in style

The winter seasons are coming to a close at Bemidji High School and the lone program still in action this week is the girls basketball team.

The Lumberjacks begin their postseason 7:30 p.m. today when they head to St. Michael-Albertville for the quarterfinal round of the Section 8-4A tournament.

BHS is 5-20 and is seeded eighth in the field. St. Michael-Albertville is 20-4 and is the top seed.

In today’s other game at St. Michael, No. 4 Buffalo will tangle with No. 5 Rogers at 6 p.m.

The section openers at second-seeded St. Cloud Tech find No. 3 Elk River facing No. 6 Moorhead at 6 p.m. and St. Cloud Tech hosting No. 7 Brainerd at 7:30 p.m.

Today’s winners will advance to the Section 8-4A semifinals which will be played Saturday at the home of the highest remaining seed. The section championship game will be March 14 at St. John’s University.

Early in the season the Jacks lost 60-24 at home to St. Michael-Albertville but BHS played well down the stretch of the regular season, winning two of its final four games and almost pulling off an upset at Grand Rapids.

Last week the boys basketball team saw its season end with an 86-61 loss at St. Cloud Tech in the opening round of the boys Section 8-4A playoffs.

Bemidji was seeded eighth while St. Cloud Tech was ranked No. 1. The Lumberjacks ended the winter 4-22.

Success at state

Over the weekend Bemidji was represented at the state wrestling and the state swimming and diving meets and three of the athletes returned with medals.

At the wrestling tournament senior Kade Johnson placed third at 182 pounds and junior Brian Maas did the same at 113 pounds.

Both Lumberjacks had their sights set on winning a state championship and both came very close to accomplishing that goal. Johnson’s road to a state title was sidelined in the semifinals when he lost 5-1 to Bobby Steveson of Apple Valley. Steveson went on to claim the title as he blanked T.J. Ohara of Tartan 7-0 in the championship match.

Johnson rallied from that setback to pin Collin Sohn of Wayzata 3:12 into the consolation semifinal and hammer Joe Hoeve of Farmington 10-1 in the third-place match.

The senior capped a tremendous high school career in style. He finished the winter with a school-record 40 pin victories in a season and lost only once in 45 matches. His 44 victories tied Johnson for the program’s single-season win total with Chris Miller who also won 44 matches in 2005.

“The kid who beat Kade was a state champion at Indiana last year and transferred to Apple Valley,” said BHS coach Rance Bahr. “And to finish third in the state with only one loss is quite an accomplishment.”

Maas (43-1) was making his third appearance at the state meet and the junior now has a pair of third-place finishes and a fifth-place on his resume.

After posting a pair of pins in Friday’s first two rounds Maas was felled 8-5 by Wade Sullivan of Lakeville North in Saturday’s championship semifinals. Maas, however, finished in style as he pinned Austin Brenner of St. Cloud Tech in overtime and then blistered Jake Bergeland of Centennial 14-3 for third.

Sullivan went on to capture the state title as he tripped Jamin LeDuc of Farmington 10-7 in the championship bout.

“I think Sullivan is a kid that Brian would beat most of the time but the kid scored four points in the final 10 seconds of the first period and Brian couldn’t get those back points back,” Bahr said.

“Both Kade and Brian wrestled very well at state. We would have liked to have gotten one or both of them into the finals but it wasn’t to be. But it also wasn’t for lack of effort. To lose in the semifinals and to come back to get third speaks volumes for Kade and Brian,” the coach continued. Both had their goals and dreams of winning the state stripped away and 45 minutes later they adjusted their goals and were ready to move on.

“Not many wrestlers can do that. There isn’t a bad wrestler at the state. Each class has the top 16 wrestlers in the state and they all believe that they can get to the top of the podium. And finishing third was a pretty impressive way to end the year.”

Another Lumberjack, Sam Howard, also finished third on Saturday at the state diving and swimming meet. Howard was third after Thursday’s preliminary and second rounds and on Saturday he stuck his final three dives to preserve that spot.

“Sam was very consistent with his dives,” said his coach Ryan Ohnstad. “He scored about 40 points on each and that was more than enough to keep him in third.”

“It’s a weird feeling being done with my high school diving career,” Howard said after the meet. “But (placing third at state) was a good way to go out.”

Also ending his career as a Lumberjack swimmer Saturday was Tyler Hemp who placed ninth at the state meet in the 100 breast stroke. In Friday’s preliminary round Hemp had the ninth fastest time and that put him into Saturday’s consolation final. And on Saturday he posted a great time of 1:00.52 which was faster than the swims of the seventh and eighth-place finishers of the championship heat. Swimmers in the consolation race are not allowed to overtake any championship-heat swimmers, however, even if their times are faster, so Hemp officially placed ninth.

He also was a member of the 200 medley relay squad which finished 13th. Joining him on the relay were Nate Gubbels, Matt Arndt and Wyatt Yartz.

With piles of snow on the ground and the temperature still below zero, it may be a while before most of the BHS spring teams begin their competitions. Those with optimistic viewpoints, however, will tell you that the softball and track teams begin their practices next Monday. The baseball and golf teams will hold their initial practices on March 17 and the tennis team will hit the practice court on March 24.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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