Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.
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Performing at their best will be the goal of the Bemidji gymnasts in today's Section 8AA meet in Brainerd. The Lumberjacks are unlikely to be in the hunt for any state-meet berths as defending champion St. Cloud Tech and Brainerd appear to have too much talent for Bemidji to crack the top four in any of the events. "Our goal will be to see how high we can score and shoot for our highest marks of the season.
The first winter high school state tournament will be held today as Giant's Ridge near Biwabik hosts the Nordic ski competition and Bemidji will have three representatives in the day's activities. Senior Bailey Drewes will make a return trip to the state meet in the girls division as will Tony Sagedahl and Adam Holter in the boys competition. A year ago Drewes placed 74th while Sagedahl was 93rd and Holter 95th. All three skiers hope to improve upon those finishes. The state format includes a 5-kilometer skating run in the morning and a 5-kilometer classical race in the afternoon.
The Pete Fenson rink of Bemidji maintained its unbeaten status Tuesday at the USA Curlng National meet in Fargo. Tuesday's action saw Fenson down Jason Larway of Seattle 8-4 to improve to 6-0. The Tyler George rink of Duluth remained on Fenson's heels, however, as it won its fifth game in six outings by nipping Matt Hamilton of Madison, Wisc. 6-5 on the strength of two rocks in the 10th end. Owning 4-2 records after Tuesday's round were the Todd Birr rink of Mankato and Hamilton. Birr dumped Craig Brown of Madison, Wisc.
Mitch Brown made seven of his eight free throws in the final 1:48 and those points proved essential as the Bemidji boys basketball team edged Detroit Lakes 78-74 Tuesday night in Detroit Lakes. The Lumberjacks improved to 18-3 with the important Section 8-3A victory while the Lakers dropped to 15-6. After taking a seemingly comfortable 31-17 lead in the first half BHS saw the home team whittle away at its deficit and by intermission the Lakers were within 38-32.
Tandy Juell of the Bemidji State University men's track and field team captured third place in the NSIC heptathlon which was held Sunday and Monday at St. Cloud State. Juell earned 4,774 points and provisionally qualified for the heptathlon at the NCAA II indoor track and field meet. Laquone Robinson of Moorhead was the heptathlon winner as he finished with 5,005 points.
As a preliminary competition to Thursday's state Nordic ski meet, the coaches' association members will host the Charlie Banks Relay today at Giant's Ridge. The event was created to provide a race for the skiers who came up short in their bids for berths at the state meet. The format includes four-person teams and a three-kilometer course. The first two skiers per team will do a classical run while their two teammates will skate-ski the trail. Bemidji will enter a team in both the boys and the girls races.
For much of the winter the Bemidji Nordic ski teams have had to keep an eye on the thermometer hoping that the mercury would rise above 4-below-zero so a meet could begin. Thursday at Giant's Ridge a trio of Lumberjacks and their state-meet peers will be monitoring the weather once again. This time, however, the skiers will be hoping for cold instead of warmth. "Our greatest concern will be the condition of the course," said BHS ski coach Mark Walters.
The Bagley and Cass Lake-Bena boys basketball teams continued their winning ways last week while the Blackduck girls posted a pair of victories and improved to 8-12 overall. The Panthers, Blackduck and Nevis all were looking to make a move in the Northland Conference standings as last week began but when the dust settled, CL-B won its key game against Blackduck, Nevis stopped Walker-Hackensack-Akeley and Blackduck also fell to Pine River-Backus. Heading into this week Cass Lake-Bena and Nevis shared the top spot with 8-2 league marks and Blackduck dropped to third at 7-3.
Cody Rutledge scored 21 points and Ryan Rude added 17 to lead the Bemidji boys basketball team to a 61-47 victory Saturday at Alexandria. "This was a high-quality win for us against a very good team," said BHS coach Jeff Brown.
The season ended for the Bemidji girls hockey team Saturday as North Wright County wore down the Lumberjacks, scoring four unanswered in the third period and downing the Jacks 8-2 in the quarterfinals of the Section 8AA tournament in Monticello. BHS and the River Hawks were tied 2-2 midway through the second period but the home team started to take control in the waning stages of the stanza as it scored 10:56 and 16:45 into the session. The trend continued in the third period as NWC found the net four more times. Bemidji opened the scoring 2:46 into the contest when Allie Heifort tallied a