ALEXANDRIA -- Bemidji High School senior Aiden Saari took runner-up in the Section 5A diving finals on Thursday night in Alexandria to secure his second consecutive trip to the Class A state meet.

Saari scored a 380.85 to finish second behind only Sartell-St. Stephen sophomore David Binsfeld’s 407.15. The Lumberjack came up just short in defending his section title of a year ago, but his spot at the state meet is assured nonetheless. Saari improved from his section-winning score last season, which was a 355.95.

“He had a goal at the beginning of the year to get a 380 at sections, and that’s exactly what he did,” BHS diving coach Sam Howard said.

BHS senior Braden Olson fell only one spot shy of joining his teammate in Minneapolis. Olson scored a 344.1 to finish fifth Thursday. The top four divers in the section qualify for state.

Also punching their tickets to state, along with Binsfeld and Saari, were Alexandria juniors Caden Kavanagh (3rd, 370.2) and Aidan Staples (4th, 362.45).

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The Section 5A swimming finals will take place Saturday, March 13, at three separate sites due to pandemic restrictions. Bemidji will host Park Rapids, Perham and Thief River Falls; Morris will host Detroit Lakes and Fergus Falls; and Sartell-St. Stephen will host Melrose/Sauk Centre and Alexandria.

Results from the three sites will be combined following the day’s competition to determine places and scores. No preliminaries will be held.

Swimming is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Saturday at the BHS pool.

The Class A state boys swimming and diving championships will take place at the University of Minnesota’s Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center from March 18-20.