Reporting Jeff Wald
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Xcel Energy Center is about to be a very busy place for the next month, and it has very little to do with the Minnesota Wild.
Downtown St. Paul will be the host for three state tournaments between February and March as it is every year. It all starts this week with the State Girls Hockey Tournament, next week with three classes of the State Wrestling Tournament and concludes with the State Boys Hockey Tournament in few weeks. It’s getting a lot closer to the best time of the year to be a high school sports fan.
The seedings were announced for the Class AAA State Wrestling Tournament on the team side of things Tuesday morning. Brackets for the individual tournaments will be released early next week after the individual section tournaments take place this weekend. There were no real surprises to come out of the seeding for the team tournament, and it’s looking like a dandy if it all plays out.
St. Michael-Albertville (30-1) breezed to the Section 7AAA title and is the top seed in the tournament. The Knights only dual meet loss of the season came to a team from Florida at The Clash National Duals in Rochester. Apple Valley got the No. 2 seed, Prior Lake is the No. 3 seed and Owatonna is the No. 4 seed. If it all plays out right, St. Michael-Albertville will have the chance to knock off Apple Valley in the state championship match.
The Knights will face Willmar in their opening match, while Apple Valley will face Moorhead. Neither team should have much trouble getting to the title match.
In Class AA, Kasson-Mantorville is the No. 1 seed, Simley go the No. 2 seed, Foley is the No. 3 seed and New Prague is the No. 4 seed. The signs points to Kasson-Mantorville facing Simley for the state title, which would be another fantastic match-up.
The Class A field also appears loaded as three of last year’s state tournament teams are back, including defending champion Jackson County Central. The other returning teams include Barnesville and Pierz.
Jackson County Central enters as the No. 1 seed, followed by Frazee, Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, Kerkoven-Murdock-Sunburg and Chatfield. If the seedings hold, Jackson County Central would face Frazee for the state championship.
Across the board, this year’s state wrestling tournament appears to be one of the most competitive in recent memory. It should make for a great weekend at Xcel Energy Center in early March.
Girls State Hockey Tournament At A Glance
We also have brackets for both classes of the Girls State Hockey Tournament, which starts Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center. In Class AA, Minnetonka, Eden Prairie, Hill-Murray, Lakeville North and North Wright County go the top five seeds. If the seedings hold, Minnetonka would face Eden Prairie Saturday night for the state title.
The Class A bracket is loaded with talent as Warroad, Red Wing, Blake School, South St. Paul and Hibbing/Chisholm are the top five seeds. Two of the state’s top scorers are on Red Wing’s team in Nicole Schammel and Paige Haley, and could make them a favorite to win the whole thing.
Don’t overlook Blake as their top player, Dani Cameranesi, is her school’s career scoring leader and is considered by many hockey experts the top player in the Twin Cities. She has 52 goals on the season.
There are three Ms. Hockey finalists in the field between the two tournaments. That’s the end-of-season award for the top senior in the state. They are Haley from Red Wing, who has 19 goals and 45 assists on the season, Cameranesi from Blake and Sidney Morin from Minnetonka. The other finalists include Kate Flug from Roseville and Kate Schipper from Breck.
If the seedings hold, Warroad would face the Wingers for a state title in what would be a great game.
Class A action gets underway Wednesday morning with quarterfinal action, and the Class AA tournament starts Thursday with quarterfinal action.
WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally will get you caught up on all the action Friday night at about 10:20 p.m.