CROSS COUNTRY: Bemidji girls clinch state berth; boys earn 2 individual bids
The Lumberjack girls clinched their first berth since 2014 with a second-place finish at the Section 8-3A meet on Thursday in St. Michael. The BHS boys also finished third, just missing a team berth but qualifying two runners as individuals.
ST. MICHAEL -- The Bemidji High School girls cross country team is running all the way to the state meet.
The Lumberjacks clinched their first berth since 2014 with a second-place finish at the Section 8-3A meet on Thursday in St. Michael. The BHS boys also finished third, just missing a team berth but qualifying two runners as individuals.
“I was extremely proud of both teams, how they went out and competed,” Bemidji head coach Ryan Aylesworth said. “We got a couple guys to state. We were super proud of the girls, achieving the goal they set for themselves. We’ve been working for it all year, and it’s pretty compelling.”
Mia Hoffmann had the Jacks’ best finish, powering the charge to state with her second-place time of 19:32.5. Regan DeWitt was close behind in sixth at 19:58.2, while Josey LaValley (14th, 20:35.3), Lauren Berg (18th, 20:46.6) and Addison Maish (26th, 21:31.7) wrapped up the team’s score.
Despite not factoring into the team total, also running for BHS were Aubrey DeWitt (31st, 21:52.9) and Camille McDermott (53rd, 25:37.5).
“We laid out a game plan of where they needed to be, how they needed to race and what place they needed to be close to,” Aylesworth said. “They did a really nice job of going out and getting that done.”
The suspense came after the race, when team scores were being tallied up. A blend of hopeful nervousness filled the team, but that soon gave way to euphoria.
“They were very, very excited. I would maybe say ecstatic,” Aylesworth said. “We knew it was going to be really close. When we first found out (we clinched a state berth), it was unofficial. We had to add things up by hand. Seeing how close the other two teams were behind us, we were super proud and super pumped.”
The Lumberjacks finished with 66 points, ahead of third-place Moorhead’s 71 and fourth-place Brainerd’s 75.
Only St. Michael-Albertville (44) had a better score en route to the section title. The Knights owned three of the four best times, led by medalist Ali Weimer’s blistering time of 17:47.3.
Maish, Kondos qualify for BHS boys
In the boys race, both Carson Maish and Bryce Kondos clinched individual state berths for BHS. Maish placed eighth in 17:15.2, and Kondos was 10th in 17:20.3.
The top six individuals not on the qualifying teams advance to state. (The number had been eight prior to this season, but the cutoff was trimmed to six since cross country expanded to three classes in 2021-22.) Kondos earned the final individual berth.
“They’re both pretty excited that they’re going to continue their season and move on,” Aylesworth said. “It’s a great experience, especially for Carson with him coming back (next season). It’s really great for Bryce, making it in his senior year, getting to go down and compete at the state meet. We’re very proud of them.”
Ashton Niemi placed 11th overall in 17:24.6, standing as the first individual to miss out on a state bid. Also in on Bemidji’s team score were Brett Kurschner (21st, 17:56.4) and Will Termont (26th, 18:03.6).
Isaak McDonald (29th, 18:16.8) and Seth Lindgren (31st, 18:24.7) rounded out the Jacks’ performances but didn’t factor into the team score.
Buffalo (45 points) and Brainerd (69) earned state bids, while BHS tallied 76 points. STMA’s Caden Nordberg finished first individually in 16:21.7.
“The boys fell just a little bit short of their goal, but they went out and battled, gave it all they had,” Aylesworth said. “(Placing third) was the unfortunate thing, but I’m extremely proud of all the work this team has put in. It’s a great group of guys.”
The Class 3A state meet is scheduled for Nov. 6 in Northfield.
Boys Team Results
1-Buffalo 45; 2-Brainerd 69; 3-Bemidji 76; 4-St. Michael-Albertville 80; 5-Moorhead 120; 6-Sartell-St. Stephen 135; 7-Elk River 191; 8-Rogers 231.
Girls Team Results
1-St. Michael-Albertville 44; 2-Bemidji 66; 3-Moorhead 71; 4-Brainerd 75; 5-Sartell-St. Stephen 139; 6-Rogers 151; 7-Elk River 166; 8-Buffalo 214.