Our regular season comes to a close this weekend with a host of JV finales and the last chance for teams to tune up before sections begin. Scores have been going up and down all over the place so I look forward to seeing where things land on the section leaderboards coming out next week. There are several matchups that are open for the taking, and with the way this season has been – I’m hedging my bets until the last dance. This is going to go down as a memorable year with the early attempts at the new scoresheet and a host of surprises that I won’t soon forget. Enjoy the ride into the last meet of the year- it’s not about stressin’. A month from now you’ll wish you had a meet to go to. Sad! Let’s look ahead:
Heart O’ Lakes Conference Championships: Pelican Rapids hosts our Friday night kick-off with conference champs. This one is great because Frazee continues to impress over a tough section 4A field. I keep watching DGF make moves – they might be one of my dark horses heading into sections to make a state debut.
Hiawatha Valley League Conference Championships: Kasson Mantorville will be hosting in their palace of a gym (seriously, check it out if you’re in the region) and the battle between Cannon Falls, Zumbrota, Kasson, and Lake City will pick up a notch. The mixed class conferences are always a little fun because they can’t really compare previous results. No matter what happens here, everyone is getting ready for sectional rounds first and foremost.
Monticello Invitational: Melrose, Albany, Pequot Lakes, North Branch, and Alexandria will be on the watch list for this small mid-state regional matchup. Look for some best scores of the year for some of the section 4AA teams who will be here ready to cap off the invitational season. Alexandria is having a strong year in kick and will face a good challenge from North Branch and Pequot Lakes.
Mounds View Invitational: The JV championship held at Mounds View is always fun for teams wishing to honor the accomplishments of JV and end the season with something fun. It’s a bit smaller of an event from the “winter carnival” days back when Chaska would host it some years as well as the Mounds View location. (Wow that was a major flashback to 2002) None the less, the idea of a JV championship is a favorite of mine. The JV fields are wide open for a new winner this year. AAA in the morning, A/AA in the PM.
Dover Eyota Invitational: (no schedule at time of press) – Southeast MN will be here getting a dress rehearsal for section 1A which happens here 2 short weeks later. Top 5 teams here will all have a shot at a state ticket.
Blaine Invitational: This one is getting more and more intense every year as some key matches happen right before sections 3 and 4 AAA converge. Brainerd, Elk River, Blaine, Andover, STMA, Duluth East, and St. Francis will all be here from section 4. Blaine has been doing their usual thing of getting better and better as the season goes along, so I’ll be watching how they score against Brainerd. The Warriors will also be at the Eastview showcase later that night, making the most of a trip to the twin cities.
Simley Invitational: 14 varsity AA teams will be here for one of the classic invites of the season. Totino Grace vs. Simley is a long-standing tradition. Marshall, Austin, Mound Westonka, Simley, Hutchinson, and Rocori all stand a chance at some hardware and will be anxiously looking for a final set of scores to work with prior to the post-season. I haven’t really seen a lot of noise from Austin this year, keep an eye out on where they stand against a strong Rocori program.
New Prague Invitational: 4 AAA teams and 4 AA teams will be featured at this newer invite hosted by the growing New Prague program. Waconia, Faribault, and Albert Lea should be on your watch-list.
Camden Conference Championship: 10 teams from section 3A makes the trek to Renville County West Practically doubling the size of the town (1,300 is all it takes). Yellow Medicine East, Lac Qui Parle, and Canby Minneota will be in top contention. Lac Qui Parle is having an excellent scoring year, look for them to turn some heads.
GFW Invitational: The voltage host a small and important final class A meet at the Winthrop middle school location. BOLD, Randolph, Richfield, and New Ulm Cathedral will try to take home some top prizes. Some of the section 2A picture always comes together at this one.
Eastview Showcase: While I don’t have an official schedule for this one – frankly you don’t need it because you should just watch everyone. 6:45pm doors open (be in line) and 7:15 start. The showcase has become a yearly event where Eastview debuts a new kick dance and other top players in the metro bring routines to be scored, but no results will be announced or published. While I have strong feelings that any event should be public for scores, there’s no policy about it so there it is. If you wanna know, you’ll have to go. Fortunately, the profits are for Kyle Rudolph’s End Zone at the U of M children’s hospital so it’s pretty impossible to say no. 11 team event.