Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.
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Jessica Bergquist finished 19th in the all-around to lead the Bemidji gymnastics team at Friday's Section 8AA meet in Brainerd. St. Cloud Tech won the team title with 142.8 while the Lumberjacks were ninth in the field with 124.85. Bemidji did return with some hardware, however, as coach Don Papreck was named the Section 8AA Coach of the Year. The team was without the services of co-captain Katie Jensen who tore her ACL during practice this week and will undergo surgery. Bergquist scored 32.3 in the all-around while teammate Brooke Beck was 23rd with 31.0.
Friday's return trip from Duluth Central for the Bemidji girls basketball players and coaches didn't seen that long as they could spend their time on the bus remembering the highlights of a 58-49 victory. The win was only Bemidji's fifth of the winter and Friday's triumph snapped a losing streak that had stretched to nine games. The last time the Lumberjacks tasted victory was Jan. 11 at home against Cloquet. "It feels wonderful getting this weight off our shoulders," said BHS coach Rick Kehoe. "We needed a game like this.
The Bemidji boys hockey team capped a memorable regular season Thursday as it headed to Thief River Falls and returned with a 5-1 victory. BHS ended the year with a 21-2-2 record and will own the favorite's role in the Section 8AA tournament. The playoffs begin Saturday when eighth-ranked River Lakes entertains No. 9 Becker-Big Lake. That winner will travel to top-seeded Bemidji 7 p.m. Tuesday in the quarterfinals. The 8AA semifinals are set for Feb. 26 and the title game is March 2. Thursday's victory also assured BHS the Mariucci Conference championship.
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.
Bemidji's skiers at Thursday's state Nordic meet hosted by Giant's Ridge near Biwabik all finished within the upper two-thirds of the field as Bailey Drewes was 80th among the girls skiers, Adam Holter was 80th in the boys division and Tony Sagedahl finished 83rd. Thursday's races featured 120 boys and 120 girls who each skied a 5-kilometer skating run in the morning and a 5-kilometer classical run in the afternoon. "Sending three kids to state is an accomplishment," said BHS coach Mark Walters.
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.
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.
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.
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.