Can you believe the season is half over? I always feel a little bit conflicted about mid-December being considered the start of the downhill stretch. I feel rushed to get things looking perfect on the one hand, and like I have a long time yet on the other. Scores this year are really raising some eyebrows, with some pretty big numbers being posted out there. The 400 club is already up to 4 schools in AA and 10 in AAA. The other trend starting to appear is the substantial swings in points from weeknight/conference events and weekend invitationals. It’s more than a little challenging to compare when 25 to 30-point changes are going on in the same week. Everyone is seeing this, and more than a few teams have had no linear progression of point totals whatsoever, so just relax if this is you. It’s a week to week and meet to meet process right now. Its going to take a while to really figure out what a 5 looks like and what an 8 looks like. I personally get back to my video and evaluate what’s really going on from my own instincts when the scores don’t seem to help.
Looking ahead to the weekend, every judge in the state must be booked for this one to work. We have more meets than any other weekend this season. 12 over Friday night and Saturday. Last year some of these conference championships “shared” judging panels, but it doesn’t look like it’s scheduled that way this time. There’s a lot on the line for teams who will be handing out the championship banners this weekend, so we’ll take a look at those first.
Northwest Suburban Conference Championships: Elk River High School. This varsity only championship features a highly entertaining conference roster. Totino Grace and Maple Grove are in the lead, with Spring Lake Park and Anoka right behind. With only two weeknight meets this year, the points system is pretty deadlocked. Double points towards the win this weekend should settle it. Armstrong, Blaine, Champlin Park, and Centennial have some skin in the game and should be on the watch list here.
South Suburban Conference Championships: Lakeville South will be hosting the SSC Championship where Eastview will be heading in undefeated. The real interest here will be Lakeville North against Prior Lake where things get more complicated for 2nd and 3rd. Everyone who advanced in section 1AAA last year will be here, so a strong conference finish is a must.
Mississippi 8 Conference Championships: Rogers hosts the final matchup of the existing Miss 8 conference before Buffalo and St. Michael get shipped off to the Lake Conference next year. The results from this group have been all over the board. Teams jump from 1st to 5th and back again without surprising me. Chisago Lakes will try to make a move against STMA, Rogers and St. Francis who are much bigger schools. This one’s my wild card result of the week.
Metro West Conference Championships: Bloomington Kennedy’s great gym will be the site of the MWC championships Saturday. Chanhassen, Chaska, and Benilde keep things so tight it’s going to come down to the minor details. All 3 groups are strong enough to come out on top and I’d put this one down as having a razor thin margin of points.
Frazee Invitational: The Fly Girls annual invitational will get the invites started off strong on Friday night. Northern A teams all know to keep an eye out for how Frazee is scoring, and more importantly, what trends their routines are setting now. Pelican Rapids and Bagley are looking strong this year and won’t be going away from the leaderboard anytime soon.
Lake City Invitational: With the Tigers hosting the Section 1A championships, 14 regional A teams will be making the trip to test out the floor. Zumbrota Mazeppa, Lake City, and Wabasha Kellogg should have a good day here. While I haven’t seen their routine yet, Zumbrota just seems to have something working for them this year and should be separating from the crowd by January.
Rochester Mayo Invitational: I’m not sure why we don’t have a big Rochester convention center type meet on the calendar, I always thought that would be fun. For now, Mayo did attract teams from as far away as St. Cloud for this mixed class event. Cretin Derham Hall, Rochester schools, and St. Cloud Apollo will be strong performers.
Melrose Invitational: This one has an eclectic mix of teams from all 3 classes. Alexandria, Pequot Lakes, and Detroit Lakes jump out as highlights, but really, I haven’t seen or heard much from most of this lineup to make much more than a guess. Sauk Center, Holdingford, and Minnewaska are all such new programs they’re bound to be making improvements each year and each week.
BOLD Invitational: The tiny town of Bird Island is about to be overrun with dance team fans. Last time I tried to park there I’m pretty sure I was outside of city limits and walked. However, there’s a great reason for that since this is one of the best class A competitions each year. Lac Qui Parle Valley, New Ulm Cathedral, BOLD, St. Charles, Yellow Medicine East, PACT Charter, and Montevideo will all be there from the state lineup. This 15-team event will be sure to please.
Waconia Invitational: Waconia will be hosting a largely AA event with a key conference matchup for Hutchinson, Orono, Waconia, Mound Westonka, Delano, and GSL. Zimmerman and Marshall will be looking to upset the west metro party.
Academy of Holy Angels: no schedule at time of posting. AA meet.
ACGC Invitational: no schedule at time of posting. Small, regional class A meet Friday night.