BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji High School swimming and diving team will be well represented at the state meet.
The Lumberjacks secured five more spots during Saturday’s Section 5A meet at the BHS pool, helping the team finish third in the section standings.
“The goal at all these championship meets is to go faster than where you went in,” Bemidji co-head coach Woody Leindecker said. “Everybody did that. We had 24 swims, and we had 24 best times. They were perfect today. When that happens, everything kind of takes care of itself.”
In all, eight Lumberjacks will be making the trek to state. That number includes three individual berths and two relay berths from Saturday. The top three swimmers and relays qualify for the state meet, and so do any others who meet the state qualifying standard in each event.
Brooks Matetich was the most decorated swimmer on the day, as he claimed two individual berths and contributed to a relay berth. Matetich was second in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 54.51 for the Jacks’ best finish of the day. He also placed fourth in the 50 free at 22.49, beating the state qualifying standard by two-hundredths of a second.
Matetich also swam the first leg of the 400 freestyle relay, which placed third in 3:25.51. He was joined by Moses Son, Jaxon Leindecker and Walker Erickson.
The 200 freestyle relay came in third, as well, thanks to Erickson, Quinn Knott, Ben Dockendorf and Aidan Wolf posting a time of 1:33.13.
Son claimed the final individual state entry by taking fourth in the 100 butterfly in 55.42, sneaking under the state qualifying standard of 55.63.
Saturday’s state qualifiers join diver Aiden Saari, who qualified on the diving board Thursday with a second-place score of 380.85, for six total entries.
“We haven’t had that many in a long time,” coach Leindecker said. “That’s a good group going down. And third place out of 10 teams, with only 13 on the section team this year, that’s pretty impressive. … Most everybody on that roster scored points for us, so that was cool, too.”
Sartell-St. Stephen claimed the Section 5A championship as a team, tallying 562 points. Alexandria was second with 456, while Bemidji’s 290 points edged fourth-place Melrose/Sauk Centre by two.
The meet was spread out over three locations, with BHS hosting Thief River Falls, Park Rapids and Perham. Morris and Sartell-St. Stephen were the other hosts. All the results were then compiled to determine placewinners.
“We were sneaking a look (at results) on my phone app and seeing what everybody else was doing today,” coach Leindecker said. “The whole year has just been weird, and I applaud all the teams that have made it this far without any hiccups. All these kids have made it to the end and were able to swim in a championship meet.”
The state meet will be divided up over three days. The Class A diving portion will commence at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 18, while the Class A swimming events will begin at noon Saturday, March 20, for Sections 1, 3 and 5. All action will take place inside the University of Minnesota’s Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center.
1-Sartell-St. Stephen 562; 2-Alexandria 456; 3-Bemidji 290; 4-Melrose/Sauk Centre 288; 5-Park Rapids 165; 6-Fergus Falls 146; 7-Perham/New York Mills 83; T8-Detroit Lakes 65; T8-Morris 65; 10-Thief River Falls 59.