BEMIDJI -- Mia Hoffman ranked among the top 10 runners at the Section 8AA girls cross country meet Friday as she led Bemidji High School to a seventh-place finish at Greenwood Golf Course.

Hoffman’s eighth-place time of 19:42.7 paced the Lumberjacks, who hit peak form at the right time of year.

“They ran really smart, they progressed throughout the race and moved up,” head coach Ryan Aylesworth said. “I think that almost all of them had either their personal best or season best (times) at the most important race of the year in front of the home crowd. It was a great day. I was super proud of their effort.”

Only a freshman, Hoffman would have qualified for the state meet as one of the top eight individual runners not on the top two teams in the section.

“I’m super proud. That’s really a goal that she had set for herself,” Aylesworth said.

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Unfortunately, Hoffman and the BHS boys team -- winners of Thursday’s Section 8AA boys meet -- saw their seasons end one step shorter than normal. The Minnesota State High School League decided not to hold post-section competition this fall due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s unfortunate for the boys team and for Mia,” Aylesworth said. “They would have had that opportunity to represent our school and see what they can do against the best. But very excited that they were able to do as well as they were and that they got the opportunity to actually be able to have a section meet.”

The Lumberjacks congratulate each other at the finish line of the Section 8AA girls cross country meet on Friday at Greenwood Golf Course. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)
The Lumberjacks congratulate each other at the finish line of the Section 8AA girls cross country meet on Friday at Greenwood Golf Course. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

Completing Bemidji’s top five behind Hoffman were Addison Maish (30th, 20:54), Josey LaValley (37th, 21:26.2), Mary Beth Mathews (47th, 21:55.7) and Tristan Wickum (74th, 22:46.4). Also competing were Camille McDermott (97th, 24:55.1) and Grace Carleton (100th, 25:51.4).

The Lumberjacks totaled 196 points in the 15-team field to trail behind first-place Alexandria (30) and runner-up Willmar (65), as well as Rocori (95), Sartell-St. Stephen (138), Monticello (164) and Moorhead (181).

Willmar eighth-grader Erin Eilers claimed the individual title with her first-place time of 18:50.6.

Like Thursday’s meet, Friday’s included four sessions spread throughout the day with no more than four teams competing at the same time. The alteration was made due to the pandemic and prevented teams from running simultaneously, as is normally the case.

The Lumberjacks were the top team in their 5 p.m. session, the last one of the day, finishing ahead of Becker, Fergus Falls and St. Cloud Apollo.

“We were very excited to be able to host here and let everybody see our course and the great place we have to have meets, and our crowd,” Aylesworth said. “(I’m) very, very thankful for all of the families and people in the community that came out to support us.”

The Lumberjacks will return most of their young lineup next season. Their section contingent featured three freshmen, two juniors, one senior and one eighth-grader.

“We’re excited to see the development that they can make,” Aylesworth said. “We’ve got a really good girls section, a lot of good competition. It’ll be just fun to see how we can progress and see what we can do to try to keep improving and getting better.”

Team Results

1-Alexandria 30; 2-Willmar 65; 3-Rocori 95; 4-Sartell-St. Stephen 138; 5-Monticello 164; 6-Moorhead 181; 7-Bemidji 196; 8-Becker 209; 9-Brainerd 233; 10-Little Falls 258; 11-Fergus Falls 259; 12-Detroit Lakes 312; 13-Foley 326; 14-St. Cloud Tech 341; 15-St. Cloud Apollo 360.