Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.
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The benefit of a successful season will be on display 6 p.m. today when the Bemidji football team entertains Hermantown in semifinal play of the 7-4A playoffs. BHS earned the top seed and its reward - the home field today and again on Friday if the Lumberjacks can defeat the Hawks.
The Bemidji volleyball team extended its season Friday by stopping Alexandria 19-25, 26-24, 25-19, 17-25, 15-9 in the 8-3A quarterfinals in Alexandria. Friday's win vaults the Lumberjacks into Tuesday's section semifinals and an 8:01 p.m. match at St. Michael-Albertville, the top seed of the South. BHS entered the postseason as the third seed from the North. "We played consistent all night," said Bemidji coach Teresa Colligan. "It was a matter of two evenly matched teams going head to head and it turned out to be a very good fight." Jess Yost had 14 kills, 24 digs and five blocks.
State tournament berths are on the line today when the Bemidji cross country teams join their?Section 8AA peers at the section meet in Fergus Falls. Today's action begins at 3:30 p.m. and was originally scheduled for Thursday.
Bemidji High School seniors Meghan Wannebo and Liz Hirt have thoroughly enjoyed this year's volleyball season and, despite the 14-14 record heading into tonight's Section 8-3A opener, they will look back at 2010 as a very successful year. "It has been a lot of fun," Hirt said. "Our team chemistry has been great this year and we all get along so well. It's been a very rewarding season." Wannebo is a defensive specialist and Bemidji's libero.
Bemidji head football coach Troy Hendricks and a few of his assistants braved the elements Tuesday night and traveled to Hermantown to watch the Section 7-4A opening-round matchup between Cloquet and the Hawks. Hermantown won 18-7 to advance to Saturday's game in Bemidji but, because of the weather, Hendricks did not learn much more about the Hawks and how they compare to the top-ranked Lumberjacks. "Other than exchanging tape, the trip didn't accomplish much," Hendricks said. "The conditions were horrible.
Midway through the season Ernie Heifort broke his hand in two places during Bemidji's 14-7 victory at Alexandria. The linebacker and defensive lineman didn't let the injury ruin his senior season, however. Heifort missed only one game, a 20-16 Bemidji victory over Sauk Rapids, and only because doctors had to wait for the swelling to subside before they could put apply a cast. Once that was accomplished Heifort was back onto the field and his efforts helped lead the Lumberjacks to a 22-7 victory at St.
Most of the area volleyball teams begin section tournament games Thursday while Bemidji will wait until Friday before it opens its postseason. The Lumberjacks were ranked third in the North 8-3A and will open their tournament 7 p.m. Friday at No. 2 Alexandria. If the Lumberjacks (14-14) can defeat the Cardinals they will return to the court 8 p.m. Tuesday, most likely at St. Michael-Albertville. SMA is the top seed from the South sub-section and will play either No. 4 Sauk Rapids or No. 5 Apollo Friday. If SMA and Bemidji both win the Jacks would head to St. Michael.
Tuesday's swimming and diving meet at Moorhead went down to the final event and for Bemidji to win the Lumberjacks needed to go 1-2 in the 400 free relay. BHS coach Woody Leindecker decided to go for broke and he split his two relays in an attempt to try and grab those necessary team points. "It doesn't make any difference if you lose a meet by two points or by eight points so we decided we had nothing to lose," Leindecker said. The tactic worked as Steph Frey anchored the lead relay to a winning time of 4:00.52 and Alicia Papke-Larson held off Moorhead's final swimmer to claim second place
Bemidji defender Tony Smith was honored at a ceremony in the Twin Cities Monday by being named to the All-State Class A boys soccer honorable mention team. Smith was nominated by his coach Rick Toward who submitted his name to the Lakes to Prairie Conference coaches. The coaches submitted his name and qualifications to the Section 8A representatives who, after weighing everyone's qualifications, selected Smith and three other players to the All-State team. Smith is the fourth Lumberjack during the past five years to earn All-State laurels.
The season has ended for three of the Bemidji high school fall sports teams but for the volleyball, football and cross country squads the road to the state tournament begins this week. The swimming and diving team continues its regular season with weekend meets at Grand Rapids and Buffalo. The Lumberjacks will begin their taper early next month as they prepare to compete in the section meet on Nov.