WARROAD -- The Bemidji High School girls swimming and diving team will have a sizable contingent making the trip to state next week.
While the Lumberjacks’ streak of seven straight Section 8A team titles was snapped Saturday, they will be sending five swimmers across seven events to the Class A state meet as individuals.
Senior Paige Andersen qualified in the 50-yard freestyle (1st, 24.75) and the 100 freestyle (1st, 54.25), senior Abby Yartz in the 200 IM (2nd, 2:17.24) and the 100 backstroke (2nd, 1:02.32) and junior Laura Davis in the 200 freestyle (2nd, 2:03.87). The 200 free relay team (2nd, 1:42.95) of senior Claudia Vincent, Andersen, Yartz and Davis also qualified, as well as the 400 free relay team (2nd, 3:43.89) of senior Gabbi Takkunen, Yartz, Andersen and Davis.
“Going into this meet the cards were not in our favor by any means,” said co-head coach Kristen McRae.
The team entered the meet seeded 138 points behind the favorites, but closed the gap significantly over the weekend.
“After yesterday in prelims scored out, we made up a lot of ground,” McRae said. “Our kids swam fantastic on Friday and we made up about 70 points I think.”
Bemidji closed the gap further on team champion Detroit Lakes during the finals Saturday. The Jacks wound up taking second with 407 points, just 37 back of the Lakers’ 444.
“They truly were probably the most successful on-paper swimmers in the pool this weekend in our section,” McRae said of BHS. “The girls fought hard. They were amazing.”
Andersen was named the Section 8A Swimmer of the Year at the meet’s conclusion. Her first-place finishes in the 50 free and 100 free mark the third consecutive year she has won the events at sections.
The five state qualifiers will compete in the Class A state meet at the University of Minnesota’s Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center in Minneapolis, Nov. 15-16.
Despite not making it eight straight section championships, the Lumberjacks are not disappointed with their performance.
“Nobody’s hanging their heads about it,” McRae said. “You go in there with the idea you want to go for the win and they did. Everybody gave it their best and pushed Detroit Lakes, and Detroit Lakes swam fantastic. But our kids swam, I would say, probably better overall. But they’ve got some big guns over there.”
Section 8A Meet Team Results
1-Detroit Lakes 444; 2-Bemidji 407; 3-Grand Rapids 335; 4-Fergus Falls 252; 5-Park Rapids 236; T6-Perham/New York Mills 129; T6-Thief River Falls 129; 8-The North 86; 9-Fosston/Bagley 84; 10-Crookston 83.