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MARSHALL -- Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg is hoping to change its nickname from the Fighting Saints to the Cherry Pickers for the upcoming Class A state softball tournament. KMS remained unbeaten Thursday by thrashing Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian 11-3 in the Section 3A championship to advance to the state tourney for the second straight year and fourth time overall. The Fighting Saints, ranked No. 3 in the coaches association poll, will face off against top-ranked Cherry in the opening round of the state tournament next Thursday at Caswell Park in North Mankato.
ST. PAUL -- With Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City leading the way with four individuals in Class A, the area has 13 competitors still on track for a state title after the first day of competition at the state individual tournament at the Xcel Energy Center. Unbeaten and top-ranked Larry Bomstad (41-0) at 145 pounds, No. 3 Matt Meyer (42-3) at 138, No. 4 James Nelson (42-2) at 182 and No. 2 Hayden Rouser (42-2) at 126 all went 2-0 for ACGC on the first day to reach the semifinals of their respective weight classes.
MADISON -- Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd girls tennis coach Brant Hacker knew he had a good team entering this season, but he didn't imagine they would be undefeated this far down the schedule. Behind the unblemished record is a team loaded with seniors and talent in singles. LQPV/DB's pairings in doubles aren't any slouches either as only 5 of LQPV/DB's 16 wins were by scores of 4-3. LQPV/DB is nearly unbeaten in a combined 48 matches at the top three singles spots. Leading the way is unbeaten Patricia Ott at No. 1.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Many prep basketball observers thought that MACCRAY would have qualified for the state boys tournament last year. The Wolverines were stopped one game short of playing at Williams Arena, but they had plenty of talent returning to make another run at state. And this season they didn't disappoint. MACCRAY will playing in the Class A state tournament today for the fourth time -- the first time since 1996 -- in the program's history, which includes previous years when the towns of Maynard, Clara City and Raymond were not consolidated yet.
The majority of boys basketball coaches in Section 3A, including MACCRAY head coach Gary Nelson, thought Hills-Beaver Creek would be the team to beat in order to reach the state tournament. Hills-Beaver Creek is in that position now, but things at the beginning of the season things weren't looking as peachy for the Patriots. The Patriots (23-6) will have another challenge on their hands today as they meet MACCRAY (25-3) in the 3A final at 5 p.m. at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.
COLLEGEVILLE -- Melrose made 14 more free throws than New London-Spicer to offset Jayme Moten's game-high 29 points and eight 3-pointers as the Dutchmen edged the defending Class AA champions 64-60 in the Section 6AA-East final Tuesday at Saint John's University. Melrose (16-10) trailed for the majority of a fast-pace first half, but top-seeded NLS (19-9) couldn't stretch out a six-point lead and the No. 3 Dutchmen would eventually lead by one point at 25-24 at intermission. A reason why the Wildcats couldn't pull away was the inability to get to the free-throw line.
The Minnesota State High School League recently completed its new competitive section assignments for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years and several changes are in store for the Tribune's 20 area schools. A school's enrollment is the main factor if a move is to be made and 19 of the area schools will see a projected decrease in students. Willmar will see the biggest change as its proposed enrollment for the next two school years will be 994, down 68 from the current figure.
MARSHALL -- Other than a hiccup in the middle of the season, Yellow Medicine East has had its way with opposing teams. The Sting (20-6) have since then pulled together and won 9 of their last 10 games entering today's Section 3AA girls basketball championship with Jackson County Central (25-2) at 8 p.m. at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall. Jackson County Central is ranked No. 9 in Class AA by Minnesota Basketball News.
ST. PAUL -- In Kevin Weller's first season of coaching Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, Mayer Lutheran ousted his Jaguars in the opening round of the 2007 Class A State Volleyball Tournament. Three years have since passed and the two programs will meet again in the first round of the state tournament today at 3 p.m. at the Xcel Energy Center. The records for both teams are nearly identical from three years ago. BBE, currently 27-2, was 27-3 entering the tournament in 2007 and Mayer Lutheran was 17-11.
NORTHFIELD -- Four of the nine area participants that will be competing in the Class A state cross country meet Saturday at St. Olaf College will be looking to improve from last year. Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd junior Tera Walker has the most experience, having qualified for state every year since she was a seventh-grader in 2006. Walker was 57th as a seventh-grader, 23rd as an eighth-grader, 20th as a freshman and 35th last year. Spencer Erickson, a junior from New London-Spicer will be making her fourth consecutive appearance at state.