MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – By the time the weekend is over, state champions will be crowned in two classes of girls hockey and two classes of girls gymnastics.
All that hard work that started in late October and early November comes down to this weekend at both the Xcel Energy Center and the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion. There’s nothing like being crowned a state champion, something that many high school athletes will experience this weekend.
There are several big events this weekend, and we’re previewing four of them.
Northfield, Perham Aim To Defend Gymnastics Titles
A pair of schools will be looking to continue impressive streaks Friday at the gymnastics state team championships at the University of Minnesota. It’s our featured event for WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally.
In Class AA, Northfield is looking for its third straight state championship. The Raiders, led by seniors Sveta Mason and Meaghan Howell, haven’t lost a meet since 2009. That’s a streak that is now 36 meets, and Northfield returns seven gymnasts from last year’s state title team. It won’t be easy as state power Roseville is also in the competition and is one of the top teams every year.
In Class A, Perham has built a gymnastics dynasty as the school seeks its ninth straight state title. Coach Charlie Fleck has another talented squad with just one senior in Satera Montella and five eighth graders. There are six gymnasts back from last year’s state championship team. Perham is currently ranked No. 3 and will have to get past No. 1-ranked Melrose to earn another state championship.
The Class A team tournament is at 11 a.m. Friday and the Class AA meet is at 6 p.m. Friday at the U of M Sports Pavilion. There is also an individual tournament on Saturday.
Boys Basketball: Apple Valley (19-4) at Lakeville North (22-1)
Two of the top five teams in the state face off Friday night as No. 5-ranked Apple Valley travels to No. 3-ranked Lakeville North in a South Suburban Conference showdown. The Eagles feature one of the best players in the state in Tyus Jones, while the Panthers have a three-pronged attack and are tied with Eastview at the top of the conference standings. When the two teams met earlier this season, Lakeville North came away with a 68-54 win. I think the Eagles will play much tougher this time around, and I’ll pick them to win a close one.
State Hockey: Roseville (25-2-2) vs. Edina (19-4-6)
Roseville faces Edina Friday night on one Class AA state hockey semifinal at Xcel Energy Center. The Raiders got there with a 3-1 win over Grand Rapids/Greenway in Thursday’s quarterfinals. Edina got there with a 3-2 win over Mounds View. Both teams can score in bunches, and both teams have great goaltending. Kate Flug scored twice in Roseville’s win Thursday and will be a key in this game. The Hornets feature a balanced attack, led by Ali Austin and Sarah Nielson.
State Hockey: Minnetonka (23-5-1) vs. Lakeville North (23-5-1)
Minnetonka will battle Lakeville North Friday night for the right to play in the Class AA state championship Saturday night at Xcel Energy Center. The Skippers got to the semifinals with a 4-1 win over Eagan where four different players scored. Laura Bowman and Kira Von Steinbergs each had a goal and an assist in the win. Lakeville North shut out Roseau 5-0 in their quarterfinal as Ashley Kloncz netted a hat trick and Alexis Joyce had five assists. Cassie Alexander also made 15 saves in net. Lakeville North’s defense will have to be just as stingy Friday against the Skippers. I’m taking Minnetonka in this one, but it won’t be easy.
Tune into WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally Friday night as Mike Max, Frank Vascellaro and John Lauritsen will have all the action covered.