Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.
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The reconstruction of the University of Minnesota football program is underway and Bemidji High School senior Ernie Heifort Jr. will be part of that process. After spending the weekend at the U of M and meeting Gophers head coach Jerry Kill and his assistants, Heifort verbally committed to the Gophers.
The winter sports seasons begin in November and continue into March and five months of seemingly never-ending practices and competitions can take their physical and emotional toll. "We've been working hard since November and we need a week or two of rest in order to give our bodies a chance to heal," said BHS wrestling coach Rance Bahr. "This is the time to do that. We don't have a meet until Saturday (the Thief River Falls Invitational) and we're going to take mostly junior varsity kids to that. For the varsity, we're going to take it easy this week and take the weekend off.
The Blackduck/Cass Lake-Bena/Indus wrestling team is enjoying a resurgence under coach Jay Reiplinger. Saturday the Bears scored 90 points and saw Devon Staples capture second place in the 130-pound division of the Rick Lee Invitational hosted by Bemidji. On Friday BCLBI went 2-1 at a meet in Mahnomen, losing 64-18 to Crookston before blitzing RLCC 66-14 and edging UNC 41-36. Those results gave the Beavers a 5-7 dual-meet record. At the Rick Lee meet Staples upped his individual record to 14-7 by going 2-1.
After spotting Roseau a 2-0 lead the Bemidji boys hockey team caught fire and blitzed the Rams 7-3 Saturday at the Community Arena. Saturday's triumph extended the Lumberjacks' winning streak to seven games and upped the overall record to 14-1-1. Roseau fell to 7-7. "We were reacting a little slowly in the first period but we picked it up in the second and by the third period we were clicking," said BHS coach Wade Chiodo. "It was a heck of a third period. The kids were flying." As good teams do Bemidji improved as the game continued.
Katie Jensen scored 33.4 in the All-Around to lead the Bemidji gymnastics team at Saturday's Moorhead Invitational. Friday night the Lumberjacks competed in the Alexandria tournament and the athletes were asked to do back-to-back competitions. "It was a long night," said BHS coach Don Papreck. "I think it affected us. We were a little shaky on the beam and had some hesitations on the bars." Saturday's meet attracted five teams. Edina, Moorhead and Bemidji formed the top pool and Park Rapids faced Frazee in the other.
The end of the regular season for the Bemidji girls hockey team is less than three weeks away and the Lumberjacks are making their push to enter the section playoffs at the peak of their game. Saturday afternoon at Nymore Arena the Lumberjacks continued their improved play as they knocked off Brainerd-Little Falls 6-5. The Flying Warriors are among the elite teams in the section and they entered Saturday's contest 11-2-2.
The Bemidji wrestling team recorded three champions and two runners-up on way to fifth place at Saturday's Rick Lee Invitational in Bemidji. Logan Crosby won the title at 119 as did Kade Johnson at 145 and Brenden Fredrickson at 171. In the team competition, BGMR took the title with 207 points while Aitken had 195, Perham 174.5, Royalton 152 and Bemidji 148.5. Trailing the pack were Nashwauk with 91, BCLBI with 90 and Roseau with 76. "Any time you advance five kids to the finals and get three champions it's a good day," said BHS coach Rance Bahr.
Bemidji sports fans are offered a full day of action today as three BHS teams enjoy the local spotlight. The home schedule begins at 10 a.m. with the start of the annual Rick Lee wrestling invitational. At 1 p.m. the girls hockey team drops the puck at Nymore against Brainerd-Little Falls and the day will conclude with the boys hockey team entertaining Roseau 7:30 p.m. at the Community Arena. Today's lone road outing sees the gymnastics team heading to the Moorhead Invitational. Today's marquee matchup sees the boys hockey team hosting Roseau.
Jessi Bergquist placed fourth with an All-Around score of 33.85 to lead the Bemidji gymnastics team to third place at Friday's Alexandria Invitational. The Lumberjacks also recorded their highest team score of the season when they reached 131.4. New London Spicer won the meet with 138.45 and Alexandria was second at 132.65.
Dylan Hoven captured the 50 free and 100 free and Adam Falk won the 100 fly to lead the Bemidji boys swimming and diving team to fourth place at Friday's six-team Lumberjacks Invitational. The Jacks scored 395 points and trailed Detroit Lakes (523), Grand Rapids (479.5) and Grand Forks Red River (441). Completing the team scores were Perham with 277.5 and Moorhead with 145. "Our top guys swam very well and, overall, we are finishing the races better," said BHS coach Woody Leindecker.