State 2017 is only one day away! If you haven’t been over to our sections composite to see where things stand after the last two weeks – you should. It really testifies to the strength of our field of teams when so many great names didn’t quite make the cut for a state qualification. I’m seeing some teams make some moves here in the final rounds – being ready for the big show at the right time. I can’t wait to see what surprises we have in store this year. Many fans don’t get to see this wide of a selection of teams and divisions, so we’re here to get you caught up. Let’s take a closer look at each division:
Class A Jazz: Friday starts off with our always unpredictable Class A Jazz division. Frazee returns to defend, but Aitkin took the blue from the section 4 tournament over the Fly Girls. The biggest challenge here will be to see where all of section 3 fits in there, with wild swings in placement from Yellow Medicine East, BOLD, and Lac Qui Parle Valley. I feel like class A is strong and taking a variety of approaches to the scoresheet that makes this one a challenge. Duluth Marshall, St. Charles, and Crosby Ironton will try to get in the mix for finals, having all been there in recent years. Finding the magic mix of what’s the right amount of difficulty and execution will be key to success in this division.
Class AA Jazz: Totino Grace and Benilde St. Margarets both sit on top of the leaderboard again this year with a strengthening Faribault jazz program challenging from 3rd. Mound Westonka, Rocori, Sartell, and Simley are looking to make finals this year as well. Mound has been a bit quiet this season compared to how much I usually see them winning, but when it came time to give out the wooden trophies they were right there when it mattered. The Rocori and Sartell shakeup from section 4AA will be one to watch at state as the Sabers won’t take that lightly.
Class AAA Jazz: This year might be a shakeup as Eastview, Wayzata, and Maple Grove are going to get a challenge from Edina and Prior Lake who are both leaving the audience wowed. The last finals spot faces challengers from Lakeville North and Anoka who are hungry for their top goal. Elite doesn’t really begin to cover describing AAA jazz and these finals will be a must watch on Friday night.
Class A Kick: Aitkin returns looking for a 4th consecutive gold – a pretty tough task in this competitive field. Frazee looks to still be their biggest challenger, but I’m leaning toward some leaderboard jumps from section 3A. With all 4 qualifiers from this group getting 1st place ranks at sections – scores got a bit deflated in my opinion. I think all 4 of those qualifiers, YME, LQPV, BOLD, and Montevideo will be in the finals if they have anything to say about it. Wild cards will be Cannon Falls, Randolph, Crosby, and St. Charles. This is the deepest field we’ve had in a while. If you haven’t come early for class A kick prelims before, this is the year to do it.
Class AA Kick: Faribault is in a comfortable lead breaking the 90 point average at sections. Usual suspects from Sartell and Totino Grace will be in the hunt for medals too. Austin, Rocori, and St. Cloud Cathedral like to make finals showings, but there will be some strong challenge from an improving Benilde kick team and a crowd-pleasing Orono squad on a mission. AA kick always leaves some great teams out of the finals – so this is my favorite side for watching prelims.
Class AAA Kick: Wayzata kick is having a banner year and will be going head-to-head with the powerhouse Eastview kick program in the finals for sure. Lakeville North and Lakeville South are kick favorites after that, and then it gets interesting from there. Brainerd and Chaska are scoring well this late in the year, but how they really match up with Anoka and St. Cloud Tech in the mix is going to be tough to call in advance. I think there were some split opinions on who is “the best” from sections rounds – so I wouldn’t put too much into how the average scores are stacking up. Just wait and see who brings it to the full house we expect Saturday afternoon.
Be sure to tune back in on your mobile devices at the tournament or from your couch if you’re live streaming. We’ll be doing our live-blog commentary thread again this year on our mainpage. Hang out with me and my crew as we chat about performances and we’ll have photos instantly available from each routine! Interviews and podcasts will be going on all morning from the target center prior to the main event so you’ll have something to listen to on the car ride in. I’ll be seeing you at STATE 2017!!