CALLAWAY -- The Bemidji High School boys Nordic skiing team is hanging another banner.
The Lumberjacks captured first place at the Section 8 meet on Tuesday in Callaway, earning the program its 11th section championship all-time and the first since 2008.
“Pretty nice accomplishment,” BHS head coach Mark Walters said. “We’ve kind of been up and down the last few years or so and kind of struggling to put together a winning combination. … All the work the boys put in all summer, and obviously some work through the fall, and the dedication this winter, it really was a sweet payoff.”
Logan Jensen added an individual title to his resume, as well. The Bemidji senior finished his penultimate race with a time of 21:41.51, beating the rest of the field by 12.99 seconds.
Fellow Lumberjack Nick Youso placed third overall at 22:05.69, while Jack Mueller (24:04.99, 7th) and Cameron Carleton (24:17.69, 8th) also aided the team to the win.
Perhaps the sweetest part of it all was the fact that the team avenged its heartbreak from a year ago. In the 2020 meet, Bemidji tied Little Falls for second place, but the Flyers earned the state bid because the total time among their top-four finishers bested BHS by a mere four seconds.
This year, though, the Lumberjacks left no doubt.
“We had such a tough blow last year, with losing that tie by a four-second deficit,” Walters said. “This was definitely putting a stamp on it. And having the overall individual on top of it was the icing on the cake for sure.”
Bemidji tallied 385 to lead all teams. Little Falls still managed to place second with 371 points.
On the girls side, a pair of skiers will be representing BHS at the state level. Mary Beth Mathews (31:59.28) and Ella Simula (32:41.87) placed ninth and 13th, respectively, and claimed two of the six individual spots awarded to those not on the top two teams.
“We’re always grateful to get anyone to state,” Walters said. “They put out about as much effort as we could have hoped for in the afternoon. Mary Beth just really pulled herself back and had a really awesome ski race in the afternoon. Ella was solid. All the other girls, they performed well.”
Madeline Simula finished 14th overall and missed a state-qualifying place by less than eight seconds.
Brainerd (384 points) won the girls team title, while Alexandria (363) was second. The Jacks finished third with 350 points.
The state meet will be held next week at Giants Ridge in Biwabik. The girls will race March 11, with the boys to follow on March 12.
TrekNorth places 9th, 10th
The TrekNorth Nordic skiing teams also took part in the section meet, with the boys placing ninth and the girls 10th in the 12-team fields.
David Carlson was the top Sundog finisher, coming in at 33rd overall with a time of 27:19.69 in the boys race. He was joined by Josh Godding (27:52.07, 36th), Sam Wielenberg (29:49.09, 51st) and Matt Wielenberg (32:23.60, 62nd) in the team scoring. TrekNorth placed inside the top 10 for the first time since 2016.
For the girls, Caitlynn Wittner led all Sundog skiers by placing 48th at 36:04.44. Iris Jensen (36:21.49, 52nd) and Pamela Moen (40:47.08, 68th) rounded out the team’s finishes.
Boys Team Results
1-Bemidji 385; 2-Little Falls 371; 3-Brainerd 366; 4-Moorhead 297; 5-Detroit Lakes 294; 6-Fergus Falls 283; T7-Sartell/Cathedral 250; T7-Alexandria 250; 9-TrekNorth 222; 10-St. Cloud Tech 192; 11-Apollo/Sauk Rapids-Rice 172; 12-Willmar 151.
Girls Team Results
1-Brainerd 384; 2-Alexandria 363; 3-Bemidji 350; 4-Sartell/Cathedral 342; 5-Little Falls 297; 6-Moorhead 268; 7-Detroit Lakes 253; 8-St. Cloud Tech 232; 9-Fergus Falls 227; 10-TrekNorth 158; 11-Willmar 143; 12-Apollo/Sauk Rapids-Rice 142.