Katie Alto and fellow senior Silas Hess earned the coveted distinction of Athletes of the Year on Wednesday in a virtual awards ceremony by the high school. Normally, the awards are presented in person, coupled with the annual Hall of Fame ceremony, and given to a male and female senior.
Alto has always had a quiet demeanor about her, and she lets her game do the talking. She’s not a flashy player on the soccer pitch, instead a defensive-minded midfielder whose heavy influence doesn’t always result with her name on the scoresheet. But, in moments of need, she also stepped up and launched some of the biggest goals of the program’s Section 8A three-peat.
The parallels extended onto the basketball hardwood, where Alto established herself as a premier defender before evolving into an offensive weapon, as well. She participated in both track and field and softball during her prep career, proving that she’s equally adept no matter what sport you throw her into.
Hess, by his own admission, likes to talk a little more (and perhaps a bit too much at times). He’ll crack a smile and tell you as much, but, like Alto, he nearly always gets the job done when it counts.
He raced through the soccer record books and became the most accomplished goal producer in program history. He had six goals and four assists during a dream playoff run to the 2018 Class A state championship game, and he exits as a part of the winningest class in program history.
In basketball, his relentless hustle and sharp facilitating made the Lumberjacks a better team, and he was integral to the program breaking a 34-year state tournament drought. If not for a pandemic, he might have aided the tennis team to its first section title this spring, as well.
Both are off to Division II soccer next fall; Alto will attend Concordia-St. Paul, while Hess will be at Colorado Christian alongside his twin brother, Ben.
Stoffel joined the program as an assistant in 2009, the same year that former head coach Troy Hendricks returned for his second stint. Stoffel became the offensive coordinator in 2010 and held the position through a 2019 season in which BHS scored 32.2 points per game, ranking ninth in Class 5A.
For the past 11 seasons, Bryan Stoffel has had the best seat in the house to watch Bemidji High School football. And now he’s in the driver’s seat.
Stoffel, a 1998 graduate of Humboldt High School in St. Paul, was also stationed on the Bemidji State offensive line from 2000-03. And now he’s leading a program of his own.
Bemidji High School graduate Ethan Bush was named National Christian College Athletic Association Football Student-Athlete of the Week on Monday after his performance for the University of Northwestern, St. Paul.
Playing linebacker, Bush recorded a team-high eight tackles in the Eagles' 27-17 win over Westminster College on Nov. 9, including 2.5 tackles for loss. The 2017 BHS graduate also recorded a sack, forced and recovered a fumble, and snagged an interception.
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