We are just 7 short days from the state tournament and it’s time to find out who’s going to complete our order of performance. I just love how the first weekend both met some expectations and blew others right out of the water – it just goes to show that the best team on that day will overcome any expectation or score trend. Hats off to our super professional judges that put a lot of emphasis on judging what’s out there and nothing else. That’s going to be especially important for all the class A meets this weekend where teams literally get it together just in time year after year – and then we have the total surprises of section 1AAA where we’ll see some new dances we just can’t speculate on until judges put pens to paper. This is gonna be fun – hold on tight!
A word on class A division of placements to state: In case you haven’t been following the crazy sectional re-alignment this year, go take a look at the number of teams actually competing at each section this weekend. It’s a bit off from the number of teams signed up on the MSHSL website. Many schools register for dance with no intention (or no option to) field a team at the sections level. Some are serial offenders; some are just not making a go of it this season. Either way, there are a ton of no-shows so the league re-distributes the 12 positions to state accordingly. Fair? That depends on what you mean. Personally, I’d love to see us create sections only with teams who plan to compete and keep the distribution to top 3 for every section. That’s a whole other topic I could go on and on about. What we do know is that things fell out as follows:
Section 1A: 3 kick and 2 jazz
Section 2A: 2 kick and 2 jazz
Section 3A: 4 kick and 4 jazz
Section 4A: 3 kick and 4 jazz
On to the previews!
Section 1A: Dover Eyota hosts the southeast regional small-team event again this year. The jazz division here will likely have strong showings from Zumbrota and St. Charles, but Wabasha and the jazz-only team from Houston will be in the mix for one of the 2 jazz spots. Kick is always wide open with Lake City, Wabasha, Zumbrota, St. Charles, and Dover Eyota all making the tournament in recent years and holding strong again this time. 3 teams will qualify in that division.
Section 2A: The first meet of the super-section at Bloomington Kennedy will feature the “not south-not west-not north” teams of class A and will feature the return of Cannon Falls to the class A scene. The bombers have had no trouble moving down a class and will take on defending section champs from PACT Charter and state qualifier Randolph. In this section, only PACT returns from the jazz state tournament, so there will be at least one new face in that wide open division, but kick will only have 2 spots to state for 3 state participant teams.
Section 3A: The western section will be at Montevideo again this year and has a very deep field of talent competing for 4 spots to state. Yellow Medicine East will have a lot of challenge from a surging Lac Qui Parle Valley team and perennial big names from BOLD, Renville County West, and Montevideo. Wild cards in here include New Ulm Cathedral who came over from section 2, and Worthington in the jazz division.
Section 4A: The north will not be so much about who goes, but exactly what order they’ll take. Watch those scores coming out of this one for a hint of where things are heading for state. Aitkin has dominated the class A kick world for the last 2 years straight, but the upstart program from Frazee took a conference kick title from them just 2 weeks ago – and with less total points. All this means it couldn’t be tighter and more exciting. Kick will also feature a hunt for 3rd with super tight scores between Crosby and Bagley making this one hard to guess. Jazz is also going to be wild as teams surge and polish this time of year. Again we’ll see Aitkin and Frazee in this mix, and watch out for Duluth Marshall, Pelican Rapids, and Crosby to try to get one of the 4 jazz spots.
Section 1AA: The only AA meet this weekend is a big one in Albert Lea where huge names from Faribault, Simley, Holy Angels, Austin, and South St. Paul all get in the hunt. This is a very well balanced section with most teams being equally good at both styles this year and worthy contenders. In jazz, Faribault makes a big return to the scene after going since 2007 without a jazz state berth. South St. Paul has also had a short drought and is having a banner year. All this is going against an Austin program with their strongest kick dance in a while….and it’s a battle of peaking teams.
Section 1AAA: The nightcap event at Bloomington Kennedy is always my favorite way to end of the sectional round. If you don’t have plans – get on over here to catch the excitement. This one evades all estimations because we really see brand new, freshly polished dances from so many teams. Eastview will be back looking for another double championship, but it won’t be easy. Both Lakeville programs are in top form, and Prior Lake has long been a program on the rise. On the flip side, I’d never count out a Burnsville program that has come from middle-of-the-road seasons to medal or even win state several times over the decades. It’s practically a tradition for someone from 1AAA to make a huge run at the end and go out on fire. Perfection is the name of the game in this group and there will be no room for question marks in execution or choreography. Check out the sheer enjoyment factor of some of MN’s best talent.
Section 3AAA: Rounding out the super-section is the wide open contest in 3AAA. With Forest Lake moved over to section 4 – the door is open and someone will be leaping on thru it. Mounds View is really re-establishing its past domination with a stable program in both kick and jazz this year. Spring Lake Park is also looking well-seasoned from a tough regular season schedule and always innovative choreography. The rest of the field has a lot of potential, with teams from Centennial and Henry Sibley having the strongest scoring seasons. This one is all about who’s gonna take it, and not ask nicely.