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A high school spring sports season that started off slowly is poised to kick things into high gear.

While the postseason for spring sports officially began last week, the action gets frequent and furious this week and the section playoffs get underway, if they haven’t already.

There are still some remaining COVID restrictions aimed at preventing outbreaks, such as limiting participants in large section golf and track meets, but with many restrictions lifted, most section playoffs, and their ensuing state meets, will be very similar to their pre-pandemic incarnation.

“It’s been a tough year, with everything that’s gone on,” said longtime Park Center track and field coach Bruce Smith, who also heads up the Pirates’ gymnastics team. “But everyone’s glad to have the state tournaments back.”

Here’s a quick look at the weeks ahead:

Boys’ tennis

Most of the team competitors for the state meet were determined in the first round of section playoffs last week, with 15 of the 16 section champions determined. Only Section 8, 2A has yet to declare a champion; team semifinals and finals will resume this week.

In Class 1A, the top five teams in the final state rankings have qualified for the state meet: Breck, Mounds Park Acdemy, St. Paul Academy, Rochester Lourdes and Mound Westonka. They will be joined by No. 7-ranked Virginia, No. 8 Thief River Falls and No. 10 Luverne.

In Class 2A, a new state champion was assured when Mahtomedi downed Mounds View 4-3 in the Section 4 finals. Mounds View won the 2019 state championship. Also advancing to the large-school tournament are No. 1-ranked Wayzata, No. 2 Edina and No. 3 Orono, along with No. 7. Rochester Mayo, East Ridge and Duluth East.

The individual tournaments will be held this week.

The state tournament will be played outdoors this year. Class 1A will be held at St. Cloud Tech High School and Class 2A at Prior Lake.


Will No. 1, 4A Stillwater get back to state for the 12th time in program history in Angie Ryan’s first year as head coach? The Ponies (19-1), five-time state champs, most recently in 2018, earned the No. 1 seed in Section 4. Other top 4A seeds are Northfield (Section 1), led by pitcher Brynn Hostettler, a Gophers recruit. Hostettler pitched the Raiders to the Class 3A championship in 2019; Chanhassen (2), which also boasts a future Gopher in junior pitcher Sydney Schwartz; No. 4-ranked Rosemount (3), No. 2 Centennial (5), Hopkins (6), Forest Lake, the only team to beat Stillwater (7) and No. 3-ranked Elk River.

In Class 3A, five metro-area teams earned No. 1-seeds: Richfield (Section 3), No. 2-ranked St. Anthony (4), Big Lake (5), Delano (6) and Chisago Lakes (7). In Class 2A, Le Sueur-Henderson (Section 2), Concordia Academy (4) and Maple Lake (5) are metro-area No. 1 seeds. Randolph earned the No. 1 seed in Section 4, 1A. The No. 1, 1A Rockets are seeking their third straight state tournament appearance.


So, which Class 4A section looks like the most treacherous to traverse? Is it Section 8, with No. 1-ranked St. Michael-Albertville as the top seed and dangerous Buffalo as the No. 2? How about Section 4, with Stillwater, Woodbury and East Ridge — three rock-solid programs — at the top?

The pick here is Section 6, with Wayzata, a preseason state tournament favorite, as the top seed. The Trojans and No. 2-seed Hopkins are battle-tested by the rigors of Lake Conference play, a league that also features St. Michael-Albertville, Buffalo as well as traditional stalwarts Minnetonka and Eden Prairie. Maple Grove is a formidable No. 3 seed.

Don’t sleep on one-loss Bloomington Jefferson, the No. 1 seed in Section 3. The Jaguars survived a midseason stretch of cancellations and has been knocking the rawhide off the ball.

Due to scheduling conflicts with the St. Paul Saints and pandemic concerns at the University of Minnesota, CHS Field and Siebert Field are not being used for the state tournament this year. Instead, Chaska Athletic Park will host the quarterfinals and semifinals in Class 4A and the Mini Met in Jordan will be the site of the first two rounds of play in Class 3A.

All championship games will be played at Target Field.

Girls’ lacrosse

Can anyone beat Edina? The undefeated Hornets have laid waste to most of their opponents, a list that includes No. 2 Prior Lake, No. 4 Rosemount nd No. 5 Blake. They don’t have an easy path to the state tournament. Prior Lake, the 2019 state champs, and Blake are also in Section 6.

Boys’ lacrosse

Chanhassen is ranked No. 2, but the belief here is that the Metro West-conference champion Storm is the best team in the state. After all, Chanhassen is the lone team to defeat No. 1-ranked Benilde-St. Margaret’s. And the Storm has been remarkably stingy of late, allowing just six goals in its last three regular-season games.