The dance team season is barreling to a close and we kickoff our post season with a handful of section tournaments this Saturday, February 4th. Teams all across the state will be battling it out for a coveted spot in the top 3 and a trip to the state tournament on February 17th and 18th in Minneapolis. Lets take a look at the key matchups:
Section 4A: Section 4 will have a new face or two make it into the top 3 for sure this year after the departure of Albany from the kick division up to AA. In kick, both Bagley and Pelican Rapids have been making strong showings across their area meets, with teams from Crosby, Frazee, and Pierz putting pressure on for the last spot. The jazz division sees both Pelican Rapids and Frazee looking good for another trip to state, with Crosby and Pierz looking for something in there as well. The real challenge for this section will be in trying to get some teams in state finals, after not sending anyone other than Frazee jazz since 2008.
Section 3AA: This western section has sure heated things up this year with back and forth placements in both kick and jazz divisions. Marshall and Mound Westonka look good in both divisions, with Holy Family in the mix in jazz and the pack of Waconia, Holy Family, and Delano going back and forth for the bragging rights in kick. Marshall’s jazz is on to something that really works for them so they might be a challenger for a better placement at state than before – while Mound will bring its usual consistency to the table, something few other teams in this section seem to be able to do. Holy Family has impressed with their consistent improvements in the AA arena since moving there in 2008 and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
4AA: The “up north” section of AA is looking to send kick state champs Sartell back in both styles, while Sauk Rapids is continuing from its phoenix like return from last year, likely qualifying in either or both categories. St. Cloud Cathedral will be one to watch, after a strong start to the season, personal turmoil with a mid-season coaching change will have to be overcome in order to make a strong showing at state. So far, so good on that front for the Crusaderettes. I’m also keeping an eye out for the surging team from Pequot Lakes, who seem to be coming into their own after a few years of gaining their feet in AA. This section has some depth and should have a good showing at state for those who survive to kick another day.
2AAA: The “Wayzata” section (as the perennial hosts) finally has a new door opening with the departure of Chaska to AA. Wayzata and Maple Grove still bring strong jazz teams to the table, but there is room for someone new, most likely Hopkins or Eden Prairie. I’ve watched them flip flop all year and their strengths seem to be opposite – should be a tough call as usual. Maple Grove jazz seems more comfortable in their new routine and I expect to see their scores improve from early season. Kick is Eden Prairie’s to lose at this point, with MG, Wayzata, and Hopkins rounding out the 2nd and 3rd spots with dances that are very close matchups when I’ve seen them. Wayzata’s kick seems improved from years past – which is nice to see them make a serious push for it for the first time since Megan Hutton’s departure from staff. Hopkins is also bringing their best kick dance yet, so the meet is gonna be tight with or without Chaska in the mix. I’ll be doing a live feed from this matchup so stay tuned!
4AAA: This section hosted by Elk River should be a huge day for the jazz division especially. St. Cloud Tech, Brainerd, Andover, Champlin Park, and Duluth East all have easily the best routines they’ve had in several years, and that’s not to mention state regular Blaine. Someone’s not getting a spot who I’d like to have on my state tape, that’s for sure. I think Tech might be my only safe bet here. In kick, Brainerd has spiffed things up in new costumes and looks pretty solid for qualification, but they always seem to have trouble placing high on sections day, so they’ll need to be top form to make sure they don’t get overlooked for a strong Blaine or Tech program. Whoever gets 2nd in this kick division goes 1st at state, so there is more incentive to take home the blue than usual. I haven’t heard much from Elk River kick this year, but Anoka and even Moorhead have taken some top placements in kick meets and might be worth a look for a state berth.
Best of luck to all the teams! Don’t forget that this is just my thoughts, anything can happen and I look forward to the surprises!