Section 8A Playoffs vs Hillcrest, 8-0
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.
When Lexi Paquette saw Division III North Central University in Minneapolis had the education program she wanted, it was, quite literally, a sign.
“Definitely the academics,” Paquette said of what won her over. “That was obviously the main thing I was looking at. Since North Central had (American Sign Language) Interpreting, it helped lower down the choices.”
In October, Paquette became the Lumberjacks’ first-ever goal scorer in the state tournament. BHS, fresh off its third straight Section 8A title thanks to Paquette’s game-winning goal in the championship, made history with a strike that was much more than a consolation goal.
Paquette scored 11 goals in 2019, none more important than her final two as a Lumberjack, as Bemidji went 13-6-1. The forward finished her prep career with 19 goals and seven assists and will now move on to the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference -- where a number of other BHS graduates will be waiting to take her on.
Bemidji High School senior Lindsey Hildenbrand made things official on Wednesday with her commitment to play Division III soccer at Concordia Moorhead next fall.
Hildenbrand, a forward for the Lumberjacks, scored a team-high 17 goals and assisted on nine more during her last hurrah in 2019. Her efforts helped BHS to its third consecutive state tournament, and Hildenbrand capped her career by being named to the Class A All-State First Team by the Minnesota State High School Soccer Coaches Association, which recognizes the top 22 players in the state.
Hildenbrand’s 56 career goals and 24 assists both sit second in program history since at least 2005, as well.