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BEMIDJI - It's no sign of disrespect. It just means there are no gimmies in the NSIC. The conference released its preseason football coaches' poll Monday, and Bemidji State's position is exactly where most expected them: Sixth. It's high enough to give the Beavers some respect following an 8-3 campaign last season. But it also acknowledges the teams that still rule the roost in the NSIC - Minnesota-Duluth, St. Cloud State and Minnesota State. Coaches ranked those teams Nos.
Good news, everyone! The Deadliners - the Pioneer's own Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival team - isn't "that team that capsized at the starting line on YouTube" anymore! OK, it's true that many of us were not actually in the boat that year, including yours truly (the sports reporter who had never, before Saturday, even seen a dragon boat). And I realize by simply saying it, I remind people of that watershed moment in Dragon Boat history, thus perpetuating the legend. But no matter. Because in this year's festival, we also became legends.
BEMIDJI - It won't take Bemidji State's new women's tennis coach any time at all to get integrated into the community. It's because he's always been here. The BSU athletic department announced Wednesday that it had hired longtime Bemidji High School tennis coach and Bemidji Middle School teach Mark Fodness as the new head of the Beaver tennis program.
BEMIDJI - Josh Bergrud kept hanging around. After letting Johnny Larson go 2 up after six holes at the 88th annual Birchmont Men's Championship final at the Bemidji Town & Country Club Saturday, Bergrud knew he had to kick his game into gear. "I got two down, then I knew he was going to start making putts," Bergrud said. "I played with him almost every day so I knew he was good at putting. I knew I was going to have to start making birdies, and I kinda got going there on 9 and 10." The Grand Forks native won four straight holes - Nos.
THIEF RIVER FALLS - A walk-off single by Collin Rutledge powered the Bemidji VFW to an extra-innings 3-2 win in the opening game of the district tournament here. "It was a good baseball game," VFW head coach Dan Bennett said. "Both teams pitched very well." The game was tied at 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth when Thomas Revering was hit by a pitch.
BEMIDJI - The pageantry of the 2012 London Olympics are an ocean away, but a group of Bemidji athletes has already had a little taste of the Games before they kick off today. Bemidji High School swimmers Steph Frye, Lexie Hendricks and Libby McRae ventured to Omaha, Neb., last month with assistant coach Kristen McRae. There, they got a firsthand look at the top American swimmers at the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials. "It was really cool," BHS senior Frey said of the experience. "The atmosphere down there was just crazy.
BEMIDJI - The Bemidji State men's basketball team knows every game is important - especially this season, with a new coach and a conference title to defend. Even so, there are two dates in particular that every member of the Beaver basketball team will surely have circled on his calendar: Dec. 8 and Feb. 22. Those would be games against Minnesota-Duluth and Matt Bowen. "That'll be, I don't know what you call it, an interesting game," BSU forward Mason Walters said of the first date against the Bulldogs - and their former head coach. "We'll definitely have our adrenaline pumped.
ST. CLOUD - One bad inning was all it took for the Bemidji Post 14 Legion baseball team to be eliminated from the District VI Tournament in St. Cloud. St. Cloud Chutes scored six runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and Bemidji couldn't recover, leading to a 10-6 Chutes win and Bemidji's exit from the tournament. "(Chutes) pitchers did a good job," Bemidji head coach Mike Fogelson said. "They didn't give up any free bases. Walks and hit batters make a difference.
ST. CLOUD - After Wednesday night's marathon, the Bemidji Post 14 Legion baseball team will need to win twice today to make sure it gets to see the third day. After defeating the St. Cloud 76ers 5-1 in the opening game of the American Legion District VI baseball tournament at the St. Cloud Municipal Athletic Complex, the Legion (20-8-1) dropped an extra-innings thriller to Sauk Rapids in the second game. Sauk Rapids prevailed 9-8 in 11 innings Wednesday night, putting Bemidji on the ropes. "Our first goal is to get through (Thursday)," Bemidji head coach Mike Fogelson said Wednesday.
BEMIDJI - Sixteen may seem like a crowd.