Ah, Sections. The moment we’ve all been waiting for is finally here and we’re ready to hand out the hardware in the quest for the State Tournament. This is the 7th annual review of sections standings I’ve put together, and I have to say this is really a banner year for excellence in dance team. It’s always hard to explain to newcomers exactly how and why we do our sections the way we do – but the main point is that the high school league’s primary objective is to have a geographical representation at state. This year more than ever I hear a cry to send the best teams to state, but until this core concept from the league changes – we’re going to be keeping some excellent teams home after the next two weeks. One reader called the sectional assignment mess “maddening” and I think that sums it up perfectly. I could go on and on about imbalance, no-show teams, and “geography”. Maddening or no – enjoy the journey! Celebrate the successes in whatever form they might take. This is going to be an amazing post season. More importantly, it’s been an amazing year already.
A note on state berths: Section assignments are very uneven this year (and every year). In response, the league assigns the number of state berths per section according to how many teams are actually going to show up in your region. I’ve noted the number of teams advancing per section in each preview.
Weekend 1: February 4th 2017
Section 4A: Wadena Deer Creek High School (3 kick and 4 jazz berths)
The only class A section on weekend 1 features our northern teams in the hunt for the medals. There will be 3 kick and 4 jazz spots to state, but competition will be tight. The current rivalry between Aitkin and Frazee will be the highlight of the day as both teams look to win either division. The winner here will be looking poised for state medals or a win. 3rd and 4th place spots will in the hands of Crosby Ironton, Duluth Marshall, Dilworth Gyndon Felton, Pelican Rapids, and Bagley. Dark horse here might just be Bagley who has been seeing some sneaky jumps in kick scores this year. I’d never count that program out. DGF has never made it to state, and there’s something to be said for a team on the brink.
Section 2AA: North Branch High School (3 kick and 2 jazz berths)
This is the first time in recent memory that a AA section has lost a state berth, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time for section 2 who has top names from Totino Grace and Benilde St. Margarets to contend with. The classic TG/BSM matchup in sections is one for the ages. Both teams are handily in the lead for the top 2 spots. On the kick side, the 3rd place spot looks to be favoring Chisago Lakes, with a wide open field after that. Could be fun. I do love a good 3rd place announcement. They’re always the most happy.
Section 3AA: Waconia High School (3 kick and 4 jazz berths)
The beneficiary of 2AA’s extra jazz spot will be from section 3AA this year. This one is a notorious matchup where ranks and points are always off the map. These teams are so similar, and so different, and all good, and all about the same. I can’t tell. The usual suspects are in the hunt: Mound Westonka, Delano, Orono, Hutchinson, Marshall, Waconia, and Rockford. All of these teams have been at state in recent years. Keep an eye out for a strong program at Belle Plaine this year as well. My gut says there will be 6-8 point range between the top 5 teams here.
Section 4AA: Rocori High School (3 kick and 3 jazz berths)
The top 4 teams here regularly dominate the field, and will likely repeat that story this year. Sartell, St. Cloud Cathedral, and Rocori look strong in both divisions, with Sauk Rapids in the hunt. Sneaky top performer Pequot Lakes could make some moves, even if it isn’t on to the podium. Yet. This one will be about setting a tone for state rankings.
Section 2AAA: Chanhassen High School (3 kick and 3 jazz berths)
I love this section, and I can’t bear to watch this year! The points this group racks up is nothing short of incredible. Edina, Maple Grove, Wayzata, Chaska, Eden Prairie, and Hopkins all regularly break 80 averages. Get ready to hand out some 10s this weekend as it’s going to be amazing. Sneaky shakeups might be found if Edina or Hopkins gets a kick spot. Hopkins has some statement wins on their record, considering they’ve had a break from state for a few years. So impressed with this section – it’s my where-to-watch recommendation of the week….if you can stomach the fact that only 3 go on!
Section 4AAA: Forest Lake High School (3 kick and 3 jazz berths)
This section is fun because it’s balanced, eclectic, powerful, and yet not impossible to make a move in. Anoka and St. Cloud Tech are scoring strong. Blaine, Brainerd, and Forest Lake will like to get in the mix. With FL hosting, it could be a boost in their momentum. They haven’t advanced since their days in section 3, perhaps they’ll keep things interesting.