ACGC, MACCRAY football, basketball drops to Class A
Six area schools saw at least one sports team fall a class, while two had at least one sport move up as the Minnesota State High School League announced its competitive section assignments for the next two seasons.
Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, MACCRAY, Minnewaska, Willmar and Yellow Medicine East each had at least one team drop to a lower class. Morris Area and Willmar saw at least one team move up a class.
The Falcons, Jaguars, Wolverines and Sting saw the most benefit from the realignment. ACGC and MACCRAY dropped from Class AA to Class A in football, and boys and girls basketball. YME will be in Class A now for baseball and softball. BBE boys and girls basketball will also be in Class A.
"It really won't change anything here at YME," said Tim Knapper, head baseball coach and activities director at YME. "Typically, you like to schedule as many section teams as possible for seeding purposes when it comes to the section tournaments. Because of the size of our conference (West Central South, with nine teams), we only have room to schedule four non-conference games. Currently, all of them are with neighboring Class A schools, so I do not anticipate any major changes."
Teams also switching a class size down are Minnewaska football and Willmar gymnastics.
"It helps greatly because it evens the playing field in regard to travel," said Cardinals gymnastics coach Larry Selchow. "In 2AA or 8AA -- our previous sections -- we would be one of the teams that traveled the most unless we hosted. Section 2AA was really unfair in that regard since Eden Prairie, Chaska, the Bloomington schools are all 20 minutes from each other. Also the parents will not have to travel as far to get to whoever is hosting the meet.
"Also we are going to have judges that have seen us or haven't seen the other teams equally. The competition is also a little more fair."
Moving up will be Morris baseball and softball, and Morris/Hancock wrestling, plus Willmar wrestling will go back to Class AAA (Section 8) after a couple years in Class AA.
Football sections will realign and some area teams have moved. ACGC, which had to battle with Eden Valley-Watkins yearly in 5AA, will switch to 4A along with BBE. MACCRAY joins defending state champion Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg, Dawson-Boyd and Renville County West in 5A.
"Football-wise it puts us in the same section as the rest of our conference teams. Every school in Section 5A, except KMS, is from the Little Sioux Conference," said Mike Dammann, head football coach and activities director at MACCRAY." This will make the regular season a little more interesting because now besides fighting for a conference championship you will also be playing for seeding position in the playoffs against the same teams in your section."
Minnewaska and Morris will be in 5AA with BOLD, Benson, Paynesville and YME, and Litchfield moves from 3AAA to join Section 6AAA champ New London-Spicer.
In wrestling, BOLD and Redwood Valley will move out of Section 4A and back into 3A with KMS, MACCRAY, RCW and YME. Other section shifts include:
n Baseball: Benson to 3AA, Litchfield to 6AA
n Cross Country: MACCRAY to 3A
n Boys Hockey: Willmar to 6A
n Softball: New London-Spicer to 6AA
NOTES: Girls basketball powerhouse Minneapolis North, which lost to St. Michael-Albertville in the Class AAA title game last month, drops to Class AA. ... Willmar remains in Section 2AAAA for football, but Mound-Westonka moves to 6AAAA, leaving the Cardinals' section with seven teams again. ... A new school will be competing in with Willmar in many section sports. Chanhassen High School, in the Chaska school district, will open in September and will be in a number of the Cardinals' sections.