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Sportsline: Participation shrinking in North Dakota high school sports

North Dakota is one of only four states in the nation whose participation in high school sports has shrunk during the past seven years. The state has suffered a 10 percent decline, a figure topped only by Vermont (31 percent) and Montana (14 perc...

North Dakota is one of only four states in the nation whose participation in high school sports has shrunk during the past seven years.

The state has suffered a 10 percent decline, a figure topped only by Vermont (31 percent) and Montana (14 percent). South Dakota is down 1.5 percent.

Much of the decline may be traceable to a 9 percent decline in high school enrollment in the state during the same period.

Boys and girls basketball accounts for much of the loss, down 1,235 participants. Football has dropped 710 while total participation has declined 2,833.

Some of the drop is attributed to the rise of traveling all-star teams at younger ages which cause many athletes to quit playing when not being a member of the elite teams.

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Rising costs of youth play and increasing parental disinterest are other factors.

But the other end of the spectrum shows a 41 percent increase in Arkansas, 30 in North Carolina, 29 in Pennsylvania, 28 in Georgia and 25 in Tennessee and Arizona where the same factors persist.

Minnesota shows a 4 percent increase during the period.

Goldberg honored

Bemidji's Pete Goldberg was honored as Macalester College's Most Valuable Player on the Scots' football team this fall.

The senior offensive left tackle was a four-year starter and anchored the line which led Macalester to its third straight 6-3 season. The team averaged more than 200 yards in both rushing and passing this fall and surrendered only five sacks.

Goldberg started all 38 games in his career and allowed only one sack in his past two years combined. He was the Offensive MVP last year and graded out 94 percent this fall, leading the line in blocking efficiency.

Beaver Buddies

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The BSU Beaver Buddies program is still seeking members for the winter basketball season.

The cost is $25 for the first family member and $20 for others in the family.

The program is for players in grades K-8 with the next clinics set for Dec. 4 and 11 at 8 a.m.

Beaver Buddies will receive free admission to all BSU men's and women's basketball home games during the year with one road trip included to Duluth Jan. 2.

Each member will receive an official Green Mill Beaver Buddies T-Shirt and a basketball with honorary ball boys and ball girls selected for each home game.

Registrations should be mailed to Beaver Buddies, Attn. Ryan Montgomery, 1500 Birchmont Drive, NE., #29 Bemidji, 56601-2699.

National qualifier

Alexandria junior Jamie Piepenburg, who has dominated the Section 8-2A cross country field for four seasons, qualified for the national Nike run last weekend by taking third at the regional meet at Sioux Falls, S.D.

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She completed the 5K course in 18:01.83, running against top performers from Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

She previously reached the nationals as a freshman where she finished 87th.

Her biggest accomplishment at the regional was defeating Minnesota champion Maria Hauger of Shakopee who topped her in the state meet earlier this month.

Running a longer 5K route, she passed Hauger down the stretch to claim third. Hauger ended fifth, also gaining a national berth.

The national meet will be run at Portland, Ore. Dec. 4.

Lightfoot honored

Grand Rapids boys soccer coach Jeff Lightfoot has been chosen Section 7A Coach of the Year. His assistant, Joe Cargill, was chosen Assistant Coach of the Year.

The pair guided the Thunderhawks to the section final before falling to Proctor 2-1.

Grand Rapids and Bemidji battled to a 1-1 tie in the early season, a game regarded by Bemidji coach Rick Toward as the key to the Lumberjacks' highly successful year that followed.

Tennis program

The Bemidji Area Tennis Association will offer a series of tennis lessons this winter at BSU including drills, strategy, conditioning and games.

The group designation will be determined by a free tennis skills test.

The four groups are Top Guns for boys and girls 19-under Fridays from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Middle School girls will meet Fridays at the same time with Middle School boys Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and high schoolboys following from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

Cost of the first two groups is $100 and groups 3-4 $90. Paul Swartwood will instruct the girls and John Konecne the boys.

For further information contact Swartwood.

State swim meet

Edina and Hutchinson regained their state girls' swim titles for the first time since 2004.

Edina took the 2A crown by 24 points over Eden Prairie with St. Cloud Tech and Brainerd well back in the pack.

Hutch edged Monticello by eight points for the Class A crown with Fergus Falls sixth, Detroit Lakes 18th and Bemidji 25th. Park Rapids and Warroad also scored.

Red River falls

Grand Forks Red River, which defeated Bemidji 3-1 in a regular season volleyball match this fall, reached the final of the North Dakota state tournament before bowing to Bismarck 3-0.

The defending champs had defeated Minot 3-0 and Fargo South 3-1 to gain the final.

The title was Bismarck's first since 1985.

Joki MVP

Grand Rapids senior Erin Joki, a frequent opponent of Bemidji High in her prep days, was named the Most Valuable Player of the Great West Conference this fall.

UND coach Ashley Hardee won her second straight Coach of the Year award.

Erin is the daughter of former Grand Rapids Coach Beth Joki ,whose younger daughter, Brynn, is a regular at North Dakota State.

All-section picks

Bagley's Austin Bellefy and Kris Skersick were named to the 8AA All-Section football team.

Miishikkii Brown and Bryan Vail of Cass Lake-Bena and Ryan Paulson, Zach O'Keefe and Drew Viken of Fosston were named to the 8A All-Section team.

Danny Pike and Billy Kimball of Park Rapids are on the Heart O' Lakes All Conference team.

Cass Lake boxing

A Minnesota Silver Gloves boxing tournament will be staged at Cass Lake-Bena High School Dec. 4-5 with semifinals Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and the finals Sunday at 12:30 p.m.

Admission is $7 for adults and $4 for youth.

All champions advance to the regional tournament with those winners gaining the nationals.

The meet is hosted by the Leech Lake Boxing Club. Call 208-0865 or 335-2121 for further information.

Former Bemidji High School soccer player Liz Judkins was named to the All-NSIC honorable mention squad.

Judkins, a 5-8 defender, is a senior at Southwest Minnesota State. Her career statistics include 68 games played, 30 shots, 16 shots on goal and two assists.

This year the Mustangs finished 1-11-4 overall and 0-9-4 in the NSIC.

What To Read Next
It was another perfect Sunday with clear skies and comfortable temperatures on Garfield Lake. Thirty-three racers and crews filled the pits, and the oval track was surrounded by hundreds of fans.
The following is a letter to the editor submitted by a reader and does not reflect the views of the Pioneer. Letters can be sent to letters@bemidjipioneer.com or P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.
The following is a letter to the editor submitted by a reader and does not reflect the views of the Pioneer. Letters can be sent to letters@bemidjipioneer.com or P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.
The following is a letter to the editor submitted by a reader and does not reflect the views of the Pioneer. Letters can be sent to letters@bemidjipioneer.com or P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.