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Bemidji High School teams face busiest day of winter season

The busiest day of the winter for the Bemidji high School sports programs is at hand as eight of the nine teams are in action today.

Lumberjack fans, however, have only one home game on today's docket and that will begin at 7:15 when the boys basketball team hosts Moorhead.

Hitting the road are the gymnasts, swimmers, boys and girls hockey teams, skiers and wrestlers. The lone BHS team that has today off is the girls basketball squad.

Skiers head to Giants Ridge

The skiers travel to Giants Ridge for the Mesabi East Invitational. The meet is the largest high school skiing competition in the country and 1,275 skiers are expected to hit the trails today.

Event organizers, however, will keep their eyes on the thermometer as Friday night's temperatures were predicted to plummet to 20 to 25-below zero and slowly make their way into the single digits above zero today.

Minnesota State High School League mandates say that skiing should not begin if the actual temperature is below -4 or if the wind chill reaches -40.

"We were originally scheduled to start at 10 a.m. but on Friday it was pushed back to 11 a.m. because of the expected cold," said BHS coach Mark Walters.

"Saturday's forecast calls for a temperature of -3 about noon. The nature of our sport is we deal with temperatures that are below zero all the time but as far as racing on Saturday, it will be borderline."

The course includes five kilometers of classical and five kilometers of skating and two skiers will leave the starting gate every 30 seconds.

"That will start at 11 a.m. and continue until 4 p.m.," Walters said.

Bemidji's varsity boys classical skiers will be Tony Sagedahl, Sam Dwyer and Eli Rassler while Adam Holter, Kyle Sagedahl and John Buckanaga will handle the skating.

On the girls side, Bailey Drewes, Alicia Papke-Larson and Kim Truedson will ski the classical portion and Laura Yourd, Mari Eggebo and California Thorson will take on the skating course.

Gymnasts at Little Falls

Bemidji's gym team is expected to battle Little Falls for today's Park Rapids championship. Also in the competition will be the host team, Frazee and Long Prairie.

"Little Falls and Bemidji both are scoring between 125 and 129 so it could go either way," said Lumberjacks coach Don Papreck.

"The kids have been working hard to upgrade their performances but extended vacations can be tough on the routines so we'll see where we are at."

Competing All-Around today will be Katie Jensen, Brooke Beck, Jessi Bergquist, Alyshia Moe, Sara Erickson and Amy Carey. Chelsey Anderson and Kylie Stedje will concentrate on the balance beam.

Boys hockey at Paynesville

The boys will take a 10-1-1 record into today's 5:45 p.m. game against River Lakes at Paynesville. River Lakes is 2-8-1 and is coming off Thursday's 7-2 loss at Brainerd. The cooperative program, which is based at Rocori, has wins over St. Cloud Apollo (5-4) and Fairmont (6-5) and a tie with Fergus Falls (3-3).

Bemidji has been playing very well and Tuesday it reached double figures in wins with a 3-2 overtime victory over St. Cloud Tech.

Steven Heller scored the game-winner with 40 seconds remaining in the extra session. The goal upped his point total to a team-high 15.

The Lumberjacks have eight players with 10 or more points. Joining Steven Heller (6-9-15) in that category are John Forseth (4-10-14), Matt Serratore (7-6-13), Max Hazelton (8-4-12), Easton Halbert (2-10-12), Tyler Follis (7-4-11), Jordan Heller (4-7-11) and Tyler Tatro (1-9-10).

Jeremiah Graves has a 9-1-1 record in the net. The senior also has a .937 save percentage and a 1.33 goals against average.

Girls hockey at Fergus Falls

The BHS girls hockey team is 5-9-1 and heads to Fergus Falls today. The Lumberjacks have been off since Dec. 28 when they flattened Detroit Lakes 10-0.

The Otters hosted Willmar Friday and owned a 7-6-2 record going into that contest.

Bemidji also is at Moorhead Tuesday and returns home Jan. 15 when it entertains Brainerd at Nymore Arena.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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