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TRACK: BHS boys 4x800 relay wins heat at nationals

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A week after winning a state championship, a national title was on the line Saturday night for a quartet of athletes from the Bemidji High School boys track and field team.

Fresh off a state title-winning performance at last Saturday’s Minnesota Class AA State Track and Field Championships, the Lumberjacks’ 4x800 relay team was back at it for the 2017 New Balance Nationals Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday night in Greensboro, N.C.

The Bemidji squad, featuring seniors Isaac Berg, Alex Vollen and Cody Roder and junior Linaes Whiting, won the first 4x800 heat Saturday by a nose after Roder pulled ahead at the final moment to grab the victory away from the Houston, Texas, team. The Jacks ran the heat in a time of 7:48.85, only fractions of a second ahead of Houston’s 7:48.90.

The time is a more than four-second improvement from the state championship time of 7:52.90 they posted last weekend.

Bemidji’s time was the 14th fastest of the three heats as the Jacks came away with a 14th-place overall finish in the event. The Cow Harbor team of New York posted the fastest time with a 7:37.42 to win heat No. 3.

Berg ran the first leg of the race and kept Bemidji near the front of the pack in the 13-team heat.

Whiting took the baton next and pulled ahead with a runner from Ann Arbor, Mich., as the pair ran clear of the rest of the field. The Lumberjack gained the lead on the second lap of his leg as Vollen inherited the race lead.

Running the third leg, Vollen was overtaken for a moment by a Houston runner but regained first place by the time it came time to pass the baton on to Roder.

Roder and Houston were neck and neck through the first lap of the final leg until Houston took the lead on the back stretch of the final lap. However, Roder got a second wind and sped ahead of the slowing Houston runner in the final paces to earn the win at the line by a hair -- just .05 seconds.

Austin Monteith

Austin Monteith is a sports reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. He is an Illinois native and a Butler University graduate. Follow him on Twitter @amonteith92.

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