BEMIDJI -- In recent years, the Bemidji High School girls Nordic skiing team has made a habit of making it to the state meet. This time around, they’re bringing company.
The Lumberjack girls are taking off for their third consecutive state meet in Biwabik today, where they’ll compete for a state title in a field of 16 teams. Three boys skiers are joining them as individuals for their first taste of state.
“They’re pretty geared up for it,” BHS head coach Mark Walters said. “They’re really looking forward to getting over there and seeing what they can do.”
The Bemidji girls won the Section 8 meet on Feb. 5, led by Kinley Prestegard in second overall and Gwendoline Youso in third overall. Demi Fisher (seventh) and Sarah Pollock (17th) also added to the state-clinching team score.
On the boys side, Logan Jensen, Nick Youso and Zac Fouquerel-Skoe will be making their state debuts after respectively placing fifth, ninth and 12th as individuals at the section meet.
“This is the first time any of the three of them have been to the state meet. Their expectations are just wide open,” Walters said of the boys. “What we’re going to look for here is doing the very best you can and setting a benchmark for getting back there in the future.”
The girls, though, are no stranger to state this time around.
“The girls, little different story. This is the third time the team has gone in three years,” Walters said. “Their expectations are a bit higher. Everybody wants to get personal bests -- those are great goals. Some have targeted wanting to be in the top 50.
“Team-wise, what we would like to do is just continue to improve our placement in the state meet. We’re down to the top 16 teams. We would like to do better than (14th) last year.”
Walters said two years of state experience can help the girls, who are turning into veterans in Biwabik.
“It gives them a completely different perspective,” he said. “They know the course, they’ve trained well, they understand the format. It adds a completely different level of confidence to the whole meet.”
The meet begins at 10 a.m. today at Giants Ridge Recreation Area with 120 skiers in each of the boys and girls fields. Walters said the Lumberjacks will be ready for it.
“As far as prep over the last week, we’ve been maintaining a moderate-to-higher level of skiing, (and) throw in maybe one extra day of a rest period,” he said. “We did a light ski (Tuesday), and we did some preliminary waxing and prepping of the skis. … (They’re) pretty excited.”