BEMIDJI -- After an offseason unlike any other, the Bemidji High School cross country team was back on its old stomping grounds at Greenwood Golf Course on Friday. In the team’s second meet of the season, the Lumberjacks witnessed two pairs of runners make the podium in both the boys and girls 5K races.

“It was awesome. Super excited for the fans and the families to get to see them compete,” BHS head coach Ryan Aylesworth said. “And for us to be able to go out there and put forth that effort they’ve done in the offseason to get the chance to show what they can do on the race course was really exciting.”

Second- and third-place finishes by Nathan Alto (16:37.5) and Nick Youso (17:01.4) guided the BHS boys to a first-place team performance in the triangular. Mia Hoffman (21:15.7) and Addison Maish (21:29.3) also placed second and third, respectively, as the Bemidji girls took third.

“I saw a lot of improvement over our last meet in Moorhead last week,” Aylesworth said. “Kids have been working hard, and it’s great for them to perform well in front of the home crowd, improve their times and have a good effort today.”

Moorhead runners Evan Myran (16:30.7) and Carlie Sheldon (21:15.4) captured first place individually in the races. Hoffman came within 0.3 seconds of Sheldon for the win.

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Bemidji’s Mia Hoffman, right, and Moorhead’s Carlie Sheldon race to the finish line during a meet Thursday at Greenwood Golf Course. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer
Bemidji’s Mia Hoffman, right, and Moorhead’s Carlie Sheldon race to the finish line during a meet Thursday at Greenwood Golf Course. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer

“There were a lot of lead changes in the girls varsity race -- back and forth, back and forth,” Aylesworth said. “It was a good fight. It was fun to watch. I’m very proud of Mia’s effort and Addy. They were both battling for the win today.”

Alto was only one position away from winning his second race of the season in as many meets.

“We had a lot of great performances on the boys team,” Aylesworth said, “and Nate -- he had a little flip or switch from last week. He got the Moorhead kid, and this week the Moorhead kid got him. But it was a great battle, and I saw a lot of improvement in our guys team.”

The Lumberjack boys totaled 22 points to finish ahead of Moorhead (43) and Brainerd (64). The Spud girls secured first place with 29 points, while Brainerd (45) took second and Bemidji (54) third.

Ethan Maish (17:10.9) crossed the finish line just outside the top three in fourth place for the Bemidji boys. Josef Lalli (6th, 17:42.5) and Carson Maish (7th, 17:50.6) accounted for the team’s top five. Isaak McDonald (11th, 18:06.5), Bryce Kondos (14th, 18:11.2) and Brooks Matetich (15th, 18:18.0) rounded out the team’s results.

Josey LaValley (12th, 22:28.7), Tristan Wickum (18th, 25:17.9) and Camille McDermott (19th, 26:16.0) completed the Bemidji girls’ finishers.

The Lumberjacks will next head to Alexandria for a triangular with the Cardinals and Willmar at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 17. One week after that, BHS will be back at Greenwood for a home meet with Sauk Rapids-Rice and St. Cloud Apollo on Sept. 24.

This cross country season is unusual to say the least, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, but Aylesworth is glad to be competing.

“It’s a little different having to operate different pods and try to keep some team cohesion, but it’s a little tougher because you’ve got to be separated more,” the coach said. “It’s different, but I think it’s really great for the kids to have this opportunity to be together, to get to compete, train and shoot for their goals, and get the opportunity to achieve those goals. After losing the track season last spring, I’m very, very thankful for this opportunity for them this fall.”