Half of Bemidji High School’s state championship-winning teams are still standing after the first round of The Banner Bracket, and there weren’t many surprises at the polls.
Seven of the eight higher seeds advanced in our quest to find the greatest Lumberjack team to ever hoist a state championship trophy, with the lone upset coming in the 7-10 matchup. The remaining teams consist of three boys golf teams, two boys basketball teams and one team apiece from the baseball, girls golf and football programs.
The 1997 boys golf team, the No. 2 seed, ran away with the best first-round showing, gathering more than 96% of the votes against its 15th-seeded 1956 boys golf counterpart.
Several races went down to the wire, including the 10th-seeded 1936 boys basketball team that snuck past the 1948 football team by one vote. The 8-9 matchup was also a photo finish, as the 2004 girls golf team avoided an upset at the hands of 1991 boys golf by three votes.
Quarterfinal voting will remain open for 48 hours, closing at noon on Sunday, March 29.
View first-round matchups and results here.
UPDATE: View quarterfinal winners and semifinal matchups here.
(1) 1973 baseball vs. (8) 2004 girls golf
1973 baseball: The boys of summer are the top seed for a reason. Earl Sargent threw a no-hitter in the state tournament opener, also driving in the game’s only run for a 1-0 win over Glencoe, and Andy Kannenberg tossed back-to-back four-hitters in the semifinals and finals. Led by head coach Chuck Grillo and assistant Des Sagedahl, the Lumberjacks finished 18-4 and captured their lone state crown with a 3-1 victory over Winona.
2004 girls golf: The most recent team state championship at BHS is also the school’s only girls team to finish the season with a title. Longtime head coach Jeff Nelson saw his Lumberjacks finish with a team score of 689, two strokes ahead of second-place Burnsville, to claim the most coveted hardware around. Amanda Williamson placed fourth on the individual leaderboard with a team-best 161.
Matchup No. 1:— Micah Friez (@micahfriez) March 27, 2020
(4) 1989 boys golf vs. (5) 1952 football
1989 boys golf: BHS Athletics Hall of Fame coach Larry Perkins went out with a bang in 1989. Thanks to a team score of 621, BHS captured its second consecutive state title in Perkins’ final season at the helm. Andy Brink and current Bemidji Town and Country Club head professional Rick Grand helped get the job done, winning the championship trophy to pair with its 1988 counterpart already in the trophy case.
1952 football: Technically the 1952 gridiron squad didn’t win a state championship game, but unofficially, Bemidji can still claim the crown. Prior to 1972, the Minnesota State High School League had no playoff system, so in 1947, the Minneapolis Tribune named a “mythical state champion.” The Jacks’ 8-0 season, which included a 32-13 beatdown of North Dakota state champ Fargo Shanley, earned them the state title distinction.
Matchup No. 2:— Micah Friez (@micahfriez) March 27, 2020
(3) 1948 boys basketball vs. (6) 1988 boys golf
1948 boys basketball: The 1947-48 boys basketball team was perhaps the mightiest squad ever assembled at BHS. The Lumberjacks won a program-record 28 games, including a 38-29 state title victory over Hopkins. Wes Sabourin and Charles Grover, both all-state selections, respectively scored 13 and nine points in the championship, and Bemidji mayor Lyle Caughey even awarded head coach Mike Lagather the key to the city upon the team’s triumphant return home.
1988 boys golf: The one that sparked a dynasty came in 1988. The Lumberjacks won the program’s third-ever state championship through a team score of 622. But the feat also doubled as foreshadowing, as no one in Minnesota bested Bemidji for the next three seasons, either. The 1988 squad set the standard for a four-year run that has never been outmatched in state tourney history.
Matchup No. 3:— Micah Friez (@micahfriez) March 27, 2020
(2) 1997 boys golf vs. (10) 1936 boys basketball
1997 boys golf: The 1997 team may be the most dominant of all Bemidji boys golf squads. The Lumberjacks only lost once all year under head coach Eric Niskanen, and it came when the BHS B Team upended the BHS A Team at the Bemidji Invitational. The Jacks still rolled to the state championship with a team score of 625, and no school in Minnesota has more state titles (seven) or appearances (25) than the Jacks.
1936 boys basketball: This team will be remembered as the one that started it all. The H.M. “Buck” Robbins-led Lumberjacks hand delivered BHS its first-ever state championship in 1936. In front of an estimated 9,000 fans, Bemidji was a 26-20 victor over Wadena in an all-Northland title game. Norman Galloway topped all state tournament scorers with 12.7 points per game, including 16 in the championship, and his squad finished the season 21-4.
Matchup No. 4:— Micah Friez (@micahfriez) March 27, 2020
Editor's note: Due to the polls running in tweet form, only users with Twitter accounts have access to vote. All other voters can submit their entries by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.