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Bemidji High School sports programs preparing for playoffs

It has been a long winter for the Bemidji High School sports programs but the rejuvenation of the section playoffs are right around the corner. In mid-November the Lumberjacks girls hockey team defeated East Grand Forks 3-2 to officially begin th...

It has been a long winter for the Bemidji High School sports programs but the rejuvenation of the section playoffs are right around the corner.

In mid-November the Lumberjacks girls hockey team defeated East Grand Forks 3-2 to officially begin the winter seasons at BHS and since that game the nine programs have been constantly on the go.

Saturday's Section 8-2A quarterfinal girls hockey game at Sartell marked the 156th time a Lumberjacks team was on the ice, in a gym, on the ski trail, in a pool, on the mat or at a gymnastics facility this winter.

The girls hockey team is the first program to complete its season as Saturday's 5-1 loss to Sartell-Sauk Rapids officially ended the campaign. BHS compiled a 13-12-1 record and that is a remarkable accomplishment considering the team will return its entire roster.

"Everyone was disappointed after the loss but I think we had a heck of a season," said Bemidji coach Bob Brink following the game. "We had an eight-game winning streak during the year and we earned the fifth seed in the section tournament. I think we accomplished more than many people thought we would."

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While the girls hockey team fell short in its quest for a state tournament appearance, a pair of BHS skiers, Tony and Kyle Sagedahl, will continue theirs on Thursday at Giant's Ridge near Biwabik.

A year ago Tony Sagedahl finished 83rd in the boys field while Kyle Sagedahl is making his first appearance in the meet.

The state format includes a 5-kilometer skate race in the morning and a 5-kilometer classical race in the afternoon.

Senior Ben Saxton of Lakeville North returns to defend his 2011 championship. Also in the field are six skiers who placed in the top 20 last winter.

Duluth East is the defending state team champion.

Gymnastics

On Saturday the post-season begins for the gymnasts. Don Paprek's team has had a wonderful season, consistently scoring over 130 and reaching a high-water mark of 135.40 a month ago in Alexandria. On Feb. 4 the Lumberjacks ended their regular season with a 134.225 effort at Detroit Lakes.

BHS is not likely to win the section crown, however, as Section 8A is loaded with talent, including the entire Perham team.

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Perham is the dominant player in the Class A gymnastics scene. The Yellowjackets won their first state title in 2004 and they haven't been stopped since. If they win again this winter, which is expected, the Yellowjackets will claim their ninth consecutive Class A crown.

Senior Katie Jensen will lead the Lumberjacks. Earning a trip to the state meet as an individual will be difficult, however, as Perham's all around athletes are expected to dominate.

Wrestling

Also on Saturday Bemidji will head to Brainerd for the Section 8-3A wrestling team tournament.

The Jacks, who stunned everybody but themselves a year ago and won the section crown, are ranked No. 7 in this year's field.

and will face No. 2 St. Cloud Apollo at 1 p.m. in the opening round.

On Feb. 4 Apollo defeated Bemidji 47-12 at the BHS gym.

Little Falls is the top seed and will open against either No. 8 Sauk Rapids or No. 9 Alexandria. Those two teams will meet in a preliminary match earlier Saturday.

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Other first-round match-ups pit No. 4 Sartell against No. 5 St. Cloud Tech and No. 3 Brainerd against No. 5 Moorhead.

Regular season play

Tuesday's schedule features the BHS basketball teams. The girls will take a 10-11 record to Moorhead while the boys (11-9) entertain Detroit Lakes.

On Saturday the boys team will travel to Willmar and Friday the girls will conclude their regular season at home against Duluth Denfeld.

Also on Friday the boys hockey team will climax its regular season when it hosts Thief River Falls at 7:30 p.m. at the Sanford Center. Bemidji is 14-10 and is coming off Saturday's heart-breaking 2-1 overtime defeat against Moorhead.

Despite the loss the Lumberjacks remain in the hunt for a top-four seed in the Section 8-2A playoffs. The seedings will be determined Wednesday.

The swimmers are off until Feb. 24-25 when they head to Willmar for the section meet.

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