After a challenging sectional round full of more than a few twists and turns, we’re finally at State 2019! Hotels are booked, bags are packed, and busses are loaded to get the 2-day celebration of all that is great about Minnesota dance team underway. Be sure to check out our tournament page, spectators’ guides, and tune in on Friday and Saturday mornings for our state tournament live commentary feed going all day. Time for one last look at the matchups this year:
Class A: Defending double blue champs from Frazee will be back performing their sweet and fun Jack and Diane rendition against the strong programs from Lac Qui Parle Valley and Zumbrota Mazeppa. The Shadows and Cougars are having great seasons and will be more than a little challenging for the Fly Girls. The finals hunt will include legendary names from Yellow Medicine East, Aitkin, and Duluth Marshall. Keeping things interesting will be the strong sections scores from Cannon Falls, BOLD, and St. Charles who are all tightly bunched together. Montevideo will be our debut team this year making their first jazz showing. Class A jazz is always tough to predict, with 10 of the 12 qualifiers all potential finalists by my watch.
Class AA: Totino Grace, Benilde St. Margarets, and Sartell have been locked in a top 3 fight for 3 years now and it’s looking to be a tough round again this year. Faribault, Mound Westonka, and Simley keep the drama up for the top 6 hunt. Mound Westonka has been ever so slowly making a stronger showing at state each year and I see a trend going there. Total wild card is Austin who hasn’t make a state jazz appearance in a while and score well enough to upset the status quo. The next 4 qualifiers are all within a hair’s breadth of average scores so that’s wide open. Hermantown Proctor earned their first berth to state in jazz this year as the only newcomer to the field.
Class AAA: Wayzata will be back to defend strong routines from Eastview, Prior Lake, Maple Grove, Brainerd, Lakeville North, and Edina. The Hornets, Trojans, and Lightning are going to be tough to break up in the battle for medals this year. Confident turns with all the heart and emotion of a powerful state jazz performance will be the absolute minimum to even make finals in this field. Jazz day loves to just break my heart, make me bounce along in my seat, and generally just feel all the magic that only a great AAA jazz dance can provide.
Class A: Class A kick is one of my favorite divisions. The absolute all out joy, heart, energy, and will that go into making a class A state finals kick dance is simply not matched by other divisions. They just don’t need it! In class A, it’s all about being all in from October to now. Frazee will return as defending champs against perennial favorites from Aitkin, Yellow Medicine East, and Cannon Falls. Lac Qui Parle Valley is having a statement making year staying well out in front of one of the hardest sections. I’m not going to miss that performance. One more wild card will be Lake City who had a surprise win at conference champs against Cannon Falls and will be looking to jump back into finals after a few years off. ACGC makes a state debut for the first time ever as a program.
Class AA: Sartell, Faribault, and Totino Grace will look to repeat on their medal showings from last year. Austin, Benilde St. Margarets and Simley round out the leaderboards. Orono, Hutchinson, Rocori, and Marshall are all extremely close after sections and none of these teams have been seen on the biggest floor of the year – Target Center. I think those with the nerve to pull of the visuals and performance quality that floor demands will have a good day on Saturday. No one works harder than AA kick and you’ll see that in fine style here this weekend.
Class AAA: In a big twist, it turns out AAA kick is the most wild-and-crazy division of the year. The normally military like discipline of AAA teams planning has not turned into the predictable outcomes we’ve come to expect. Of course, all eyes are on the Lakeville North vs. Eastview matchup from sections, but frankly the whole field is open right now. Wayzata stands in the most comfortable spot if there is such a thing, then Maple Grove and Brainerd get in the mix with stronger scores than last year at this time. Prior Lake and Anoka both hope to repeat finals performances, with Chaska being old pros at working the state crowd and selling the goods when the time is right. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to say “I have no idea what’s going to happen in AAA kick” this year. Sauk Rapids Rice did in fact get to make their AAA state debut this year, so don’t miss that. Actually, don’t get up at all on kick day, you’ll lose your seat!
3.5 state debuts this year by my count – and a lot of competition and speculation yet to come! I can’t wait to see how all the final performances of the year shake out. There is really nothing like this experience – for dancers, coaches, judges, fans, schools, and media. Enjoy the ride! See you at State 2019!