Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.
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A week away from competition and a few suggestions from a judge combined to carry the Bemidji gymnastics team to its best performance of the winter Saturday when the Lumberjacks squared off against Little Falls at the Gym Bin. Bemidji's previous high-water mark was 131.5 at the Alexandria Quadrangular on Jan. 14 but Saturday the Lumberjacks reached 132.275. Little Falls was just a little bit better, however, as the Flyers scored 133.950. "One of the area judges visited us last week and made some suggestions as to how we could improve," said BHS coach Don Papreck.
Erin Deters of Sartell has earned the reputation of being the best goaltender in the section, and Saturday afternoon at Nymore Arena she lived up to that billing, stopping 41 of 42 shots and lifting Sartell to a 2-1 overtime victory over Bemidji. "Before the game Sartell coach Marty Anderson was joking that Bemidji would probably outshoot Sartell 40-15 but that Deters would be the difference," said BHS coach Matt Menne.
When all is said and done it really doesn't make any difference if the Bemidji boys hockey team moves up in the state Class AA rankings. But the fact that the Lumberjacks have not been able to climb above No. 15 in the Let's Play Hockey poll, despite entering this weekend with a 14-1-1 record, has not set well with the players. Friday's 5-3 victory over Brainerd should have caught the attention of the pollsters.
Kodi Craft split four matches Saturday and finished fourth at the 145-pound division to lead the Bemidji wrestlers at the Thief River Falls Invitational. Also placing in the varsity competition was Ryle Masterson who was sixth at 125. Masterson pinned Paul Langdon of WHAN in his opening match but dropped his next three. At 130 Dylan Hardy went 0-2 and did not place while Tyler Molitor won two of his four matches but also did not place at 152. Finishing 0-2 on the day were Dustin Greenman at 160 and heavyweight Keefer Bender. "Overall the kids looked very good," said coach Rance Bahr.
Dylan Hoven won the 50 free with a pool-record time of 21.88 to lead the Bemidji swimming and diving team to fourth place in the Section 6A True Team meet Saturday in Hibbing. Virginia captured the True Team title with 1,571 points. Grand Rapids was second with 1,474.5 and Hibbing third with 1,379. The Lumberjacks scored 1,218.5. Trailing the field were International Falls with 884, Eveleth-Gilbert with 754, Mesabi East with 751, Thief River Falls with 639 and Chisholm with 574. Hoven was a two-time individual event champion Saturday as he also claimed the 100 free in 49.52.
Most winter high school sports programs schedule their events for indoor venues and, as long as teams can make it to the facility, the games or meets will be played. The lone exceptions, however, are the Nordic ski squads which continually brave the elements with outdoor practices and competitions. Cold temperatures are commonplace for the skiers but Minnesota State High School League officials have placed a cap on cold-weather competition. If the temperature is 4-below-zero or colder sanctioned high school meets are not supposed to be held.
High school hockey fans are in for a treat this weekend as the Bemidji boys squad will be hosting Brainerd 5:30 p.m. today and Hermantown 4 p.m. on Saturday. Both games will be played at Nymore Arena. The Lumberjacks, 14-1-1, finally cracked the top-15 in the Let's Play Hockey Class AA poll as they moved up a few positions to that No. 15 spot in Thursday's poll. Brainerd isn't ranked but the Warriors own a 12-4 overall record. BHS is 4-0-1 against Section 8AA foes while Brainerd is 2-2. Moorhead is 3-1-1 in the section while St.
A second half surge delivered by the defense enabled the Bemidji girls basketball team to stage a comeback but the Lumberjacks couldn't maintain the pace in the final few minutes and dropped a 50-46 home decision Thursday to Brainerd. BHS did little right in the opening half and trailed 27-13 at the break.
Warroad lived up to its billing Thursday as the top-ranked Class A girls hockey team blanked Bemidji 6-0 at the Community Arena. The shutout was Warroad's second against the Lumberjacks this winter as the Warriors blanked BHS 6-0 Nov. 30 in Warroad. "Warroad made it tough for us to make plays," said Bemidji coach Matt Menne. "We had three or four chances but through the neutral zone and on our breakouts Warroad made it difficult for us." The visitors held a decisive advantage in territorial play and continually manufactured solid scoring opportunities.
The Bemidji High School girls hockey team will test itself against an elite opponent today when it hosts Warroad at 7 p.m. at the Community Arena. According to the Let's Play Hockey experts who vote on the state polls, Warroad is the best team in Class A girls hockey and one of the three best teams in either class. BHS will take a 6-10-2 record into tonight's action while Warroad is a gaudy 16-3-0.