Babe the Blue Ox runs off the ice after stealing the Battle of the Mascots trophy on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, at the Sanford Center. (Micah Friez / Bemidji State)
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By Micah Friez

Published 2:56 p.m. on Feb. 5, 2024

Local authorities are seeking the public’s help to locate the swindling ox who made off with the coveted Battle of the Mascots trophy on Saturday night.

The friendly competition took an unexpected turn only after Bucky the Beaver had defeated Lumberjack Jack in the winner-take-all Round 3 at the Sanford Center. Although Bucky’s winning sled race performance earned him the right to claim the trophy from judge Paul Bunyan, fellow judge Babe the Blue Ox instead swiped it and fled on foot – er, on hoof – with the prize.

True to her larger-than-life status, Babe remains at large. Longtime Bemidji resident Paul Bunyan is not considered an accomplice at this time.

Yet despite the controversial climax, the competition itself was one for the books.

Bucky and Jack first met on the dance floor for Round 1, where the two boogied for the early lead in the Battle of the Mascots. Fans at a Bemidji High School boys basketball game voted Jack as the winner – largely in part to his splits in front of the student section as a show-stopping grand finale.

Bucky upped his game in Round 2, which was a scooter board race – complete with plungers to propel forward – at a Bemidji State women’s basketball game. The rules clearly stated that the winner would be the first mascot to pass the finish line “by any means necessary,” so halfway through the race, Bucky ditched his board and jumped on an electric bike to cruise to victory.

The early hijinks set the stage for Round 3 at a BSU men’s hockey game, which was to determine the inaugural champion of the Battle of the Mascots.

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

With Bemidji State students towing the mascots in sleds as 2,435 puck fans looked on, Bucky crossed the finish line first to clinch his victory in the best-of-three series. But before he could get his forepaws on the trophy, Babe charged in and stormed off with the cup.

A beaver of few words, Bucky declined to issue a statement. He instead gestured adamantly toward the Bucky Forever Fund, which is a new scholarship initiative awarded to students who excel academically and serve as Bemidji State’s mascot at athletic games, university events and more, with preference given to BHS graduates. The Battle of the Mascots served as a way to highlight the new scholarship.

For more information about the Bucky Forever Fund or to donate to it, visit The giving portal is open now, or fans can make their donation on Day of Giving on Feb. 20. For more information about Day of Giving, visit

By Monday, Jack and Bucky had also proposed an alternative resolution to the heist on the ice. Because of Babe’s otherwise spotless track record, and in consideration of her lifelong service to Bemidji since 1937, authorities have agreed to let Babe off the hook with nothing more than a stern warning so long that she returns the trophy to its rightful owner. Once fans see her back beside Paul at their iconic downtown post, one can assume that justice has prevailed.

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