SWIMMING: BHS shatters records in section championship performance, win fifth straight 8A title

WARROAD -- Members of the Bemidji High School girls swimming team adopted the phrase "All In," for the 2015 Section 8A meet. Guess they meant it. The Jacks threw down a record performance in Saturday's section finals, winning the team title for t...

Members of the Bemidji High School girls swimming and diving team pose with their Section 8A championship plaque on Saturday night in Warroad. The Lumberjacks won their fifth straight team title. (Submitted photo)

WARROAD -- Members of the Bemidji High School girls swimming team adopted the phrase “All In,” for the 2015 Section 8A meet.

Guess they meant it.

The Jacks threw down a record performance in Saturday’s section finals, winning the team title for the fifth straight year (a new section record), while also establishing new section and Warroad pool records in the 500 freestyle and the 200 freestyle relay.

BHS head coach Woody Leindecker was a bit dazed after it all.

“I’ve been involved in a lot of these things over the years,” he said. “I expected we’d do well today, but I never expected this. I used the word amazing a lot today.”


The Jacks captured the top spot with 393 points, while Grand Rapids was second with 339.5 and Detroit Lakes third with 330.

BHS senior Libby McRae got the ball rolling for the Jacks in the record-setting department, establishing new section and pool marks in the 500 freestyle, winning in 5 minutes, 18.11 seconds. She broke the record of former teammate Lexi Hendricks, who set the previous mark of 5:24.04 in 2012.

In the very next event, the 200 freestyle relay, the Lumberjacks kept the steamroller in motion. The team of Paige Andersen, MacKenzie Ritchie, Morgan Williams and McRae combined for a record setting performance of 1:41.66 for the title.

The Jacks weren’t done winning yet. In the final event of the day, the 400 freestyle relay, the team of Andersen, Claudia Vincent, Williams and McRae won the title in 3:44.98.

McRae started off the day by capturing the 200 individual medley in 2:15.83. By virtue of winning two individual events and being the anchor leg of two winning relays, McRae was named the Section 8A Swimmer of the Year.

“Good for Libby,” Leindecker said, slowly shaking his head. “What a day, what a day …”

It was quite a day for the BHS coach as well, as he was named the Section 8A Coach of the Year.

The Jacks started off the section meet with a sixth-place finish in the 200 medley relay, ending with a time of 2:00.13. Park Rapids won the event in 1:53.51.


BHS then piled up valuable points in the next two events. Led by a state-qualifying, second-place finish in the 200 freestyle by Williams, Mackenzie Ritchie ended with a strong third-place showing, while Gabby Takkunen was fifth. In the 200 IM, Alyssa Mess finished 11th and TC Cheng 16th , adding valuable team points.

The Jacks continued with a strong showing in the front end of the meet, as Andersen finished sixth in the 50 freestyle, while Vincent was eighth. Anna Corradi was seventh in diving to pace the Jacks, while her sister Elizabeth was ninth and Alli Howard 11th.

Kendra Jacobson paced the Jacks in 12th place in the 100 Fly, with Cheng 16th. The 100 free was another strong event for the Jacks with Andersen fourth, Vincent sixth and Takkunen 11th.

The Jacks then made a huge statement in the 500 Free. Following McRae’s first-place finish, freshman Abby Yartz was third with an automatic state qualifying time of 5:23.17 – nearly five seconds faster than the state time standard. In addition, Hannah Sether was sixth and Jacobson seventh as the Jacks again piled up points.

Coming right out of the win the 200 Free Relay, Williams qualified for the state meet with a strong second-place finish in the 100 backstroke. Ritchie followed suit with a strong performance and finished sixth, while Yartz was eighth.

The Jacks concluded the scoring in the individual events with Mess finishing seventh in the 100 breaststroke, while Sether was 10th.

Next up for the Jacks qualifiers (McRae in the 200 IM and 500 free, Williams in the 200 free and 100 back, Yartz in the 500 free, along with the 200 free and 400 free relay teams) is the state meet, set for the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center on Thursday and Friday.

“We aren’t done yet,” Leindecker said. “This is just the beginning. We plan to keep rolling.”



Section 8A Swimming and Diving Meet




Team scores: Bemidji 393, Grand Rapids 339, Detroit Lakes 330, Park Rapids 272, Crookston 250, Fergus Falls 200, Staples-Motley 93.5, Fosston-Bagley 47, North 46

Individual Results

200 Medley Relay: 1. Park Rapids, 1:53.51*, 2. Detroit Lakes, 1:54.97. Bemidji results: 6. BHS, 2:00.13


200 Freestyle: 1. Syd Gulon, DL, 2:00.72, 2. Morgan Williams, BHS, 2:02.60. Bemidji results: 3. Mackenzie Ritchie, 2:05.11, 5. Gabby Takkunen, 2:07.68

200 IM: 1., Libby McRae, BHS, 2:15.83* 2. Tea Nyland, PR, 2:18.13. Bemidji results: 11. Alyssa Mess, 2:32.78, 16. TC Cheng, BHS, 2:36.82

50 Free: 1., Haley Roed, Crook, 25.24, 2. Kayla Andersen, PR, 25.31. Bemidji results: 6. Paige Andersen, 25.95, 8. Claudia Vincent, 26.84

100 Fly: 1. Nyland, PR, 1:00.12 *, 2. Jennifer Tracy, DL, 1:01.77. Bemidji results: 12.  Kendra Jacobson, 1:09.32, 16. Cheng, 1:13.30

100 Freestyle: 1. Roed, Crook., 54.20* 2. Maddie Bernard, GR, 55.98. Bemidji results: 4. Paige Andersen, 57.23, 6) Claudia Vincent,  58.01, 11) Takkunen, 59.07

500 Freestyle: 1, McRae, BHS, 5:18.11 * ** 2. Gulon, DL, 5:21.83*. Bemidji results: 3. Yartz, 5:23.17* 6. Hannah Sether, 5:49.01. 7. Jacobson, 5:59.37

200 Free Relay: 1), BHS, 1:41.66* ** 2. Crookston, 1:42.16.

100 Backstroke: 1) Kate MacGregor, Crook., 1:01.12* 2. Williams, BHS, 1:03.21 Bemidji results: 6. Ritchie, 1:06.59, 8. Yartz, 1:08.21


100 Breaststroke: 1. Kayla Andersen, PR, 1:07.69* 2.Clara Livermore, DL, 1:11.62. Bemidji results: 7. Mess, 1:15.00 10. Sether, 1:19.09

400 Freestyle Relay: 1. BHS, 3:44.98* 2. Crookston, 3:45.55.

Top two individuals and relay advance to state, along with those breaking the state time standards.

* Automatic state qualifying time ** Section/pool record


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