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Lehrke makes a smooth transition to Division I hockey at Bemidji State

Tyler Lehrke was confident he could make the adjustment from high school to Juniors to Division I hockey. After graduating from Park Rapids Area High School as the school's all-time leading scorer with 89 goals and 103 assists for 192 points, Leh...

Tyler Lehrke was confident he could make the adjustment from high school to Juniors to Division I hockey.

After graduating from Park Rapids Area High School as the school's all-time leading scorer with 89 goals and 103 assists for 192 points, Lehrke played two years at Green Bay in the United States Hockey League. Lehrke scored 18 goals and had 25 assists for 43 in two seasons for the Gamblers.

Lehrke moved up to the Division I level this season and played a key role at Bemidji State University. The freshman forward scored five goals and had two assists as the Beavers compiled a 9-6-5 record in College Hockey America play and a 14-14-5 overall record.

The Beavers, who won the CHA title the last two years to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, were denied another trip to the NCAA Tournament with a 7-5 loss to Robert Morris in the CHA semifinals.

"My first year here at BSU was sort of an adjustment," said Lehrke. "The biggest jump from high school to Juniors was the speed of the game and the strength of the players. The biggest jump from Juniors to college was the strength of the players in college. Everyone is so much stronger. The speed in college isn't much faster than it was in the USHL, but the strength of the players in college in incredible."

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"I thought Tyler had a pretty good year," said BSU head coach Tom Serratore. "It's always an adjustment for any first-year player, but Tyler did well when he was in there. He played well for us."

Lehrke's first point at the Division I level was an assist on Garrett Roth's game-winning goal in overtime in BSU's 4-3 win over Minnesota State Mankato on Nov. 3.

Lehrke had another assist as the Beavers defeated Wayne State 4-2 on Dec. 2 and scored his first collegiate goal in BSU's 5-2 win over Minnesota-Duluth on Dec. 8.

In BSU's 4-2 win over Alabama-Huntsville on Dec. 16, Lehrke tallied another goal and followed by scoring twice as the Beavers edged Wayne State 3-2 on Jan. 5 to earn Star of the Game honors.

Lehrke's fifth and final goal of the season helped BSU tie Alabama-Huntsville 5-5 on Feb. 2.

For the season, Lehrke fired 24 shots on goal and had a +3 rating while on the ice.

"I had to earn my way into a very old lineup, meaning that we returned 12 forwards. I was mainly a third or fourth line guy all year long when I was in the lineup," said Lehrke, who played in 20 of the Beavers' 36 games this season. "My role was to be a good two-way player, reliable in both the offensive and defensive zones. I also killed penalties."

"Tyler has good hockey sense and was a good penalty killer for us," said Serratore. "He knew what we wanted him to do on both offense and defense."

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The Beavers fell short in their goal of repeating as CHA champs and returning to the NCAA Tournament. However, Lehrke and Serratore are confident BSU will make a run at earning an NCAA berth next year.

"We had an up-and-down year this year," said Serratore. "We had a decent year, but wanted to advance to the NCAA Tournament like we did the last couple of years. We're always optimistic. We're going to get ready for next year."

"We fell short of our goal this year. The end to our season was somewhat disappointing," said Lehrke. "I feel the Beavers are going to have a very strong year next year."

After a successful freshman season, Lehrke is looking to contribute even more next year.

"Tyler had a good year, but he has to get stronger. The weight room has to be his best friend in the offseason," said Serratore. "Tyler got a lot of experience this year and with experience you get confidence and you go from there. Hopefully Tyler will take the next step next year."

"I felt I gained a little more quickness from the past summer, but I still need to improve in that area. I also need to keep getting stronger every day. I'd like to be able to put on another 5 or 10 pounds this summer in the weight room. In the offseason I'll be hitting the weight room even harder than the previous summers because as you go up in levels of hockey, the strength in the game does as well. I'll also equally be working on my shooting and stickhandling because that is just as, if not more, important," said Lehrke. "I just want to maintain a spot in the lineup every night. I want to make an impact and be a good two-way player night in and night out."

Winter swims at Gustavus

Park Rapids' Jonah Winter completed his third season as a member of the Gustavus Adolphus men's swimming team.

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Winter placed in four events at the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference meet Feb. 15-17 at the University of Minnesota as Gustavus finished second with 838.50 points. St. Olaf ended Gustavus' five-year run as conference champs by compiling 843.50 points.

At the conference meet, Winter clocked a 21.12 split as Gustavus won the 200 freestyle relay in 1:24.12. Winter also placed seventh in the 100 butterfly with a time of 52.82, ninth in the 100 freestyle with a time of 47.81 and 10th in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:01.42. During preliminaries, Winter went 52.57 in the 100 butterfly, 48.35 in the 100 freestyle and 1:02.69 in the 100 breaststroke.

Entering the conference meet, Winter's best times were 49.67 in the 100 freestyle, 54.57 in the 100 butterfly and 1:03.54 in the 100 breaststroke.

Rainy River finishes fourth

Park Rapids' Kristen Harsha and Jackie Cumber helped the Rainy River Community College women's hockey team place fourth at the ACHA Division II National Tournament March 9-10 at Amherst, MA.

Rainy River qualified for the national tournament as the No. 3 seed and opened with a 3-1 win over the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Cumber had a goal and an assist in that game.

South Dakota State University defeated the International Falls college 5-4 in overtime in the second game. Harsha had a goal and an assist and Cumber had an assist in that game.

Rainy River was defeated by St. Scholastica 2-1 in the third game. Cumber had an assist in that game.

With a 1-2 record, Rainy River played for third place and dropped an 8-4 decision to South Dakota State University. Cumber scored one of Rainy River's goal in that game.

Rainy River finished with a 12-16 record, including six losses in overtime.

Damlo diving at USD

Park Rapids' Katie Damlo completed her first season as a member of the University of South Dakota women's diving team.

Damlo finished seventh in the 1-meter event with 363.00 points and ninth in the 3-meter event with 288 points at the North Central Conference meet Feb. 21-24 at the University of North Dakota. USD finished third in the team standings with 605.50 points, trailing the University of North Dakota (966) and Nebraska-Omaha (671).

In October, Damlo had scores of 151.25 for eighth place in the 1 meter and 155.20 points for seventh place in the 3 meter against Mankato State. Against Omaha, Damlo finished fifth in both the 1 meter (163.15) and 3 meter (172.80). Damlo was the runner-up in both the 1 meter (193.87) and 3 meter (192.07) against Northern Iowa.

At invitational meets in November, Damlo finished 11th in both the 1 meter (240.70) and 3 meter (249.00) at St. Cloud and placed fifth in the 3 meter (313.15) and seventh in the 1 meter (319.65) at Stevens Point, WI.

Damlo finished ninth in the 3 meter (202.40) and 11th in the 1 meter (186.40) at the Omaha Invitational in December and placed sixth in both the 1 meter (192.70) and 3 meter (195.60) in a dual meet against St. Cloud State in January. Damlo also placed fifth in the 1 meter at the USD Invitational in February with 306.00 points.

Cox throwing at BSU

Menahga's Justin Cox is competing in his fourth season as a member of the Bemidji State University men's track and field team.

Cox finished in third place in the shot put at the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference indoor meet at Bemidji on Feb. 24 with a distance of 51-11.75.

Cox also placed third in the weight throw with a distance of 54-1.25. Park Rapids' Kyle Christianson, a freshman at BSU, placed 11th with a distance of 37-8.75 in the weight throw.

BSU finished fourth with 88 points at the conference meet. Wayne State College won the team title with 147 points.

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