Minnesota Sections PreviewJanuary 29, 2016
It seems this season just barely got started and now we're already at sections! With the sparse snow and warm weather limiting the skiing options, many teams didn't even get in their first race until well into January. Many skiers may have been on the cusp of having enough qualifying races to even compete for sections. The thin snow conditions will again force nearly all of the section meets to compete on snowmaking loops, with Theodore Wirth shouldering the bulk of the load.
Attention: For skiers competing at sections (and coaches), we've been asked to highlight the rules on classic technique to help avoid possible disqualifications. Some excellent resources:
- Video: FIS: Understanding classical technique violations
- Video: Classic Ski Technique Rules and Violations
- Reviewing the FIS Classic Race Rules
Finally, at the time of this writing, there is only one notable absence from the sections (and State Meet) this season: Amanda Kautzer, Benilde-St.Margaret's. Kautzer is overseas representing the US at both the Biathlon Youth World Championships in Romania (on-going), and then the World Junior Olympics in Norway in mid-February. Bloomington Jefferson's Zak Ketterson has an international trip in his future as well, heading to the World Junior Championships (also in Romania) in late February -- Ketterson is expected to make a run at the State Meet title before catching his flight.
The conference championships generated a number of surprises, perhaps some showing the importance of "hitting the wax", but we expect everyone to be on their A game for sections this week. Before heading off to your favorite section to cheer, you might want to review our 2015 Section Shakeup, as a number of schools switched sections this season.
Here's our spectating guide for sections ...
- Section 1 Tue Feb 2 at Hyland Lake (Bloomington)
Expect Margie Freed, Eastview, along with her teammates, to extract a little revenge from conference championships and claim clear title to the individual and team titles. Kelly Koch, Burnsville will provide the strongest competition for Freed, with the Burnsville girls looking to be that second team advancing. The Eagan boys, led by Patrick Acton, are the favorites to take the team and individual title, with Burnsville's Nate Blichfeldt and teammates hoping lightning strikes twice.
- Section 2 Thu Feb 4 at Theodore Wirth (Minneapolis)
Huge changes in this section, it will now pit a scrappy Eden Prairie boys team against a rising Minneapolis Southwest club. Eden Prairie has strong history of peaking well, making this one too close to call for the overall title -- expect both schools to advance. For the gals, Eden Prairie and Edina, already conference rivals, will be the front runners for the top podium positions with Chaska-Chanhassen eager to prove themselves better. Zak Ketterson, Bloomington Jefferson, will cruise in for the boys title. The girls individual battle most likely will feature Mpls Southwest's Lily Richmond, Edina's Triana Willmert, and possibly Chaska-Chanhassen's Anne Duerr - Richmond favored to win.
- Section 3 Tue Feb 2 at Theodore Wirth (Minneapolis)
St. Paul Highland Park's Erin Moening is expected to collect another section title on her march back to the State Meet. Minnehaha Academy's Sam Myers and Tyler Radtke will press each other to earn the title of section champion. Minneahaha Academy boys are the team favorites, with St. Paul Central taking second unless the Highland Park boys can pull off the upset. The team title for the girls could be a close call, as the Highland Park girls appear to be the leading candidate with Mpls South the probable second place team.
- Section 4 Thu Feb 4 at Hyland Lake (Bloomington)
One of the better team battles of the week, this section only became tougher with the realignment this season. Top powerhouses Forest Lake and Stillwater were joined by Roseville, Irondale and Mounds View. Stillwater is the favorite to sweep the team titles, but Forest Lake boys have been maturing rapidly and are known to pull off some "miracle on snow" performances. The Irondale boys hope to close ranks and make a run at that second spot as well. The second girls team will likely be a battle between Roseville, Irondale and Forest Lake, and is too close to call. Individual titles? Mounds View's Jack Christianson seems to be on form and will look to repeat his conference championship performance, but Stillwater has a long of weapons to unleash, including a hopefully healthy Shad Kraftson. In nearly an identical situation, Roseville's Hanna Torvi will attempt to hold off a cadre of Stillwater skiers, as well as the rising star of Libby Tuttle, Mahtomedi.
- Section 5 Wed Feb 3 at Theodore Wirth (Minneapolis)
Xavier Mansfield, St.Anthony/SLP, will crash the party, a near lock to take the boys individual title. The girls title fight will be much closer, as another new section entry, Sadie Peterson, Mora, hopes to top a field that includes Katie Breuckman, Andover and Sarah Olson, Blaine. Led by the Woolhouse and Schwinghamer households, the Mora boys could pull the rug out on the city teams that may challenge for the top two positions: Champlain Park and Elk River. The Andover and Mora girls are the two most likely to advance.
- Section 6 Mon Feb 1 at Theodore Wirth (Minneapolis)
With the new sectional alignments, this one will feature a star-studded field of girls squads. Wayzata and Robbinsdale-Armstrong, two of the strongest teams in the state, will have to keep an eye on a surging Hopkins team. The battle will run deep, as nearly every skier will have an impact on the scoring -- the winning margin may be a single point, or even tie breaker, with one of those top 10 ranked teams not advancing to state. We tip favor to Armstrong and Wayzata. The Wayzata boys appear to have an easier road to the title with the St. Louis Park club providing the closest competition, expect both teams to move forward. Anders Sonnesyn should rule the boys field, while the girls competition should be very tight. Wayzata's Michaela Keller-Miller will hope to regain the top of the podium, with Hopkin's Claire Benton and Renae Anderson as well as Hannah Rudd and Dottie Anderson of Armstrong, threatening.
- Section 7 Thu Feb 4 at Giants Ridge (Biwabik)
Always one of the top sections to watch, this year's event will be no exception. For the girls, Mesabi East's Anna Johnson will have her hands full with challenges from Ely's Erin Bianco, C-E-C's Erika Fox and Anja Maijala, as well as Hannah Bettendorf, Proctor/Hermantown. And the boys battle is similar, with Ely's Seth Prigge expecting tough competition from the likes of Joe Rauzi, Duluth East, Cole Helms, Ely, and Nate Bich and Sam Olson, both of Proctor/Hermantown (as well as a few more!). Duluth East and Ely will be fighting it out once again for the top spots in both the girls and boys teams, and are the two leading candidates to punch their ticket to State.
- Section 8 Tue Feb 2 at Maplelag Resort (Callaway)
Hunter Zupko, Little Falls, has been holding off Robb Pike, Brainerd for most of the season, but that may come to an end at Maplelag. Little Falls other star, Kendal Hendrickson will be the top American, but perhaps a Norwegian import, Celine Kjernsval, from the brand-new Moorhead squad, could post the top time for the section. The Little Falls girls and Brainerd boys should prevail as section champs, with the Bemidji girls and Little Falls or Bemidji boys grabbing the second bid.
* Team tie-breakers use the total time of the top four skiers. If a tie remains, they go to the fifth, etc. up to seventh.
* View the full High School Racing Calendar for more event details, plus access race updates, trail reports, and eventually results.
One final note: This season has again brought huge pressure on the snowmaking venues in the Twin Cities. Please be aware that none of the venues, not even for sections, are closed courses. While most of the skiing public tries to avoid working out during the competitions, some people have limited time and access to trails, and could be on the course. Likewise, those that do choose to ski during the competitions should make their best effort to not interfere. Everyone plays nice, we all get along... :-)
Watch for same day results and hopefully coverage from all the sectionals!