Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.
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The wintry weather conditions continue to haunt the area sports scene and today's forecast of cold, wind and possible snow has forced Bemidji State University track and field coach Craig Hougen to move some of the events of today's Beaver Relays to the BSU Rec Center. Originally scheduled as an outdoor meet, at least some of the events at the Beaver Relays will be held indoors.
Thursday's weather conditions were not conducive to tennis but the Bemidji High School boys team braved the conditions and hosted Grand Rapids and Park Rapids. The Lumberjacks lost 6-1 to the Thunderhawks in the opener but recovered to down Park Rapids 7-0. "We thought about cancelling but I'm glad we were able to get the matches in," said BHS coach Mark Fodness.
A section championship appears to be within reach of the Blackduck girls golf team as the Drakes were in the top four a year ago and return their entire roster. "We could be in the hunt," said Blackduck coach Jeremy Berg. "We don't have a sub-section in Section 7A and our goal is to peak at sections." Leading the Drakes are seniors Faith Pomp and Erin Haws. Also returning are junior Oxana Pfannenstein, sophomores Morgan Young and Madison Stelton plus eighth-graders Kelsey Olson and Sasha Pfannenstein. "We have 40 kids in the program from sixth grade to 12th grade," Berg said.
High school athletics usually follow a cyclical pattern. During the high points of the cycle a group of talented athletes dominates and the team enjoys success. A few years later the situation can be reversed and victories can be few and far between. The Bagley-Fosston girls track and field team currently is enjoying the former situation. "We won the state championship in 2009 and last year we were third," said Bagley-Fosston coach Doug Carlson.
Red Lake coach Jason Niemi is trying to make baseball a priority in Red Lake and, slowly but surely, he appears to be accomplishing that task. "We have 14 kids out for the high school team and 19 on the middle school team," Niemi said. "Our numbers are getting stronger. The kids are vested in baseball now and that's very positive for the program." The increased interest in baseball has translated into victories for the varsity and Niemi expects that trend to continue. "We went nine years without a baseball win at Red Lake but last spring we won four games," Niemi said.
The Cass Lake-Bena softball team will be young this year but coach Rod Benson is hoping that his two seniors, Autumn Brunelle and Emma Rousu, can help lead the team to success. "Our weakness is our inexperience," Benson said.
Improving your golf game is something that usually occurs over time but in 2010 the improvement of the Blackduck boys golfers was quick and dramatic. "Last year we went from shooting in the mid-50s early in the season to the mid-40s by season's end," said Drakes coach Jeremy Berg.
The boys track and field program at Blackduck-Kelliher-Northome is on solid footing as this year's roster includes students from the seventh grade to the senior class. "We're young but we have quite a bit of experience," said coach Jim Schneider. Among the veterans are junior Tyler Hughes and sophomores Caleb Schneider and Keith Shaughnessy. All three represented the Bulldogs at last year's section meet and the coach believes that the trio should challenge for section berths again this spring. Hughes is a hurdler while Shaughnessy runs the 400 and high jumps.
The 2011 golf season officially began this week and by Friday many of the area courses will be welcoming golfers. Maple Ridge and Sandtrap in Cass Lake opened Wednesday and at noon today the Bemidji Town & Country Club is scheduled to begin its season. Weather permitting, officials at Maple Ridge plan to open 9 a.m.
Trey Dale tied for medalist honors with a 79 to lead the Bemidji boys golf team to fifth place at Wednesday's 16-team Detroit Lakes Invitational hosted by the Wildflower Golf Course. Dale was one of four golfers who finished at 79 but Nick Forsberg of Staples- Motley birdied the first playoff hole to capture the individual title. Dale missed his birdie putt by a few inches and had to settle for par and second place. Also carding 79s but bogeying the first playoff hole were Carter Smith of Detroit Lakes and Dave Kocera of Duluth Central. "It was cold and windy but the kids did very well," s