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TRACK AND FIELD: Lumberjacks pack home invite with senior influence

The Lumberjacks hosted the Bemidji Invite on Monday at BHS, where the girls placed second out of 10 scoring teams and the boys tied for fourth out of nine.

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Bemidji senior Lauren Berg, left, runs in the girls 4x800 relay at the Bemidji Invite on Monday, May 23, 2022, at the high school.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI -- At a certain point in their careers with the Bemidji High School girls track and field team, Lauren Berg and Mady Schmidt turned into de facto coaches.

“It’s definitely extremely important to us,” Berg said. “Especially for us in hurdles, it’s been fun to pass down what we’ve learned and help encourage (the younger girls) that you can keep building throughout every year.”

As their prep careers near conclusion, the two seniors had one last chance to coach up their teammates at home. The Lumberjacks hosted the Bemidji Invite on Monday at BHS, where the girls placed second out of 10 scoring teams and the boys tied for fourth out of nine.

“I don’t know if I’m ready for the season to be over yet. It’s kind of crazy to process that,” said Schmidt, who hopes her impact remains after she departs. “I think it’s super important to be that leader for other people. … Try to teach them the ropes of everything I’ve learned over the last five years.”

Both Berg and Schmidt were central to Monday’s action. Schmidt won the 100-meter hurdles in 15.82, while Berg was in on two winning relays. The 4x800 relay team of Mia Hoffmann, Alivia Thompson, Regan DeWitt and Berg clocked a 9:47.66 finish, while the 4x400 relay team of Josie Aitken, DeWitt, Mary Beth Mathews and Berg posted a first-place time of 4:11.06.

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DeWitt also won the 800 in 2:24.75, while Hoffmann claimed the 1600 crown in 5:26.47.

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BHS girls track and field head coach Brian Berntsen chats with other coaches at the Bemidji Invite on Monday, May 23, 2022, at the high school.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Moorhead won the team competition on the girls side with 194 points. Bemidji had 107 points as the runner-up.

The Lumberjacks’ attention now turns to the upcoming Section 8-3A meet, which will determine state berths and whether the seniors’ careers continue for another week.

“I definitely want to make a good last run,” Schmidt said. “Hopefully a section title, make it to state and place high up there. … My mentality these last couple weeks and going into sections is that I’m going to give it my all.”

Berg, the program’s record-holder in the 300-meter hurdles, is focused on her individual goals, of course. But, like Schmidt, she wants her experiences and expertise to shape the returners next year and beyond.

“After not having my sophomore season (due to COVID-19), we didn’t have too many people coming back who had experience on the team,” Berg said. “It was almost two incoming freshman classes. It’s definitely been a goal of ours to help them realize they can work hard and drop the times, they can jump higher.”

Six in the running

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Bemidji senior Brooks Matetich runs in the boys 4x800 relay at the Bemidji Invite on Monday, May 23, 2022, at the high school.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

For the Bemidji boys’ 4x800 relay team, it was “a Monday time.”

They finished their race in 8:23.04 at the Bemidji Invite, which beat the Jacks’ second team by nearly 30 seconds and the next-closest school by almost a full minute. But the team wasn’t satisfied with a somewhat rusty time after no practice on Sunday -- especially with such cutthroat competition at their heels.

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“If you just have three guys and are looking for a filler for the fourth spot, you really don’t have anybody pushing those first three guys,” senior Paul Louvar said. “We have six who are highly competitive and are really wanting to race. Having that competition within the team really pushes you to go hard at practice and try your best.”

Speaking of practice, that’s where senior anchor Brooks Matetich sees the most opportunity for growth.

“Meets are fun, but workouts are where races are made,” he said. “In workouts, we’re all pretty even. We’re always pushing each other to do our best and be the fastest.”

It was the combination of Isaak McDonald, Bryce Kondos, Louvar and Matetich that won Monday’s event. But Will Termont and Ashton Niemi are also in the running for one of those four coveted spots.

BHS placed second at the Class AA state meet in the event last season, and the team has similar aspirations this spring.

“Obviously we want to perform well at sections, make it to state. Ideally win sections and place well at state,” Louvar said. “But you have to race it. We’re just going to take it one day at a time, prepare and hopefully do well.”

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Bemidji sophomore Alex Nelson jumps in the boys high jump at the Bemidji Invite on Monday, May 23, 2022, at the high school.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

The Lumberjacks also posted an event win out of Carson Maish, who won the 3200 run in 10:21.98.

Moorhead won the team competition with 229 points, while Bemidji tallied 88.

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Now, as BHS returns to postseason competition, the 4x800 and the rest of the team will aim for a deep run of their own.

“First things first: We need to do well at sections,” Matetich said. “Because if you don’t do well at sections, you don’t go to state. Our main goal right now is to do well at sections. Get tuned up for that and see what happens from there.”

The Section 8-3A prelims are set for Wednesday, June 1, in Sartell. The finals will follow on Saturday June 4, in St. Michael.

Boys Team Results

1-Moorhead 229; 2-Grand Rapids 104; 3-Detroit Lakes 91; T4-Bemidji 88; T4-Hibbing 88; 6-Thief River Falls 20; 7-Nevis 19; 8-TrekNorth 7; 9-Clearbrook-Gonvick 6.

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Girls Team Results

1-Moorhead 194; 2-Bemidji 107; 3-Detroit Lakes 83; 4-Hibbing 79; 5-Grand Rapids 57; 6-Thief River Falls 53; 7-Ada-Borup-West 44; 8-Nevis 26; 9-Clearbrook-Gonvick 23; 10-TrekNorth 6.

Related Topics: TRACK AND FIELD
Micah Friez is the sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he joined the Pioneer in 2015 and is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Lumberjack and Beaver updates.
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