The regular seasons are over. It’s time to get serious.
With every high school sport now in midst of determining state tournament appearances, the events of the upcoming week carry added weight. Here’s a snapshot of what’s happening after Memorial Day:
The state team tennis tournament field is set, with the 16 participants in Classes 1A and 2A determined last week. In Class 2A, Blake emerged from Section 6, giving itself a chance to become the first boys’ tennis team in state history to back-to-back state titles in different classes. Setting the field for the singles and doubles brackets is the task this week.
Class 4A: In Section 1, top-seeded New Prague was knocked off by No. 4-seeded Lakeville North in the second round, meaning the Trojans will need to navigate their way back through the losers bracket. Lakeville North and defending state champ Farmington will meet in Tuesday’s winner’s bracket game. ... Chanhassen’s shot at a fourth consecutive state tournament berth took a blow when the No. 2-seeded Storm lost to Bloomington Jefferson in the first round of the Section 2 playoffs. The same two teams meet at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in an elimination game at Eden Prairie’s Miller Park. Prior Lake and Shakopee are still without a loss in the section. ... Two teams ranked in the top six in the last state coaches association poll, No. 3 Park of Cottage Grove and No. 6 Eastview, square off in the Section 3 winner’s bracket final at 5 p.,. Tuesday at Richfield Middle School. ... After having a chance at an undefeated regular season spoiled with two losses in its last three games, Forest Lake has righted the ship in the Section 7 playoffs. The Rangers are 3-0 in section play and need just one more victory to advance to the state tournament. ... Buffalo’s bashers — the Bison have slugged 38 home runs this season — are in a comfortable position in Section 8, hosting Elk River in a winner’s bracket final Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Class 4A: Lakeville North (12-7), a preseason state tournament favorite, fell to No. 2 in the Section 1 seedings due to a late-season swoon in which the Panthers lost four of their final six games. Owatonna earned the No. 1 seed in the section. ... Stillwater is a team headed in the opposite direction. The Ponies (17-3) won their final 13 games to emerge with the No. 1 seed in Section 4. ... Blaine is also trending up, finishing the regular season with 10 consecutive victories and the No. 1 seed in Section 7. ... The most competitive section, top to bottom, is Section 2. Lake Conference champion Edina is seeded No. 1, followed in the seedings by No. 2 Minnetonka, No. 3 Prior Lake, No. 4 Shakopee, No. 5 Eden Prairie and No. 6 Chanhassen. Those six teams have a combined winning percentage of .726 (85-32).
The young sport is still so segmented, with the team strength centered in pockets of the metro, that an undefeated regular season doesn’t mean much. No. 1 Benilde-St. Margaret’s (13-0) was rewarded with the top seed in Section 5, but two other undefeated teams didn’t earn the top seed in their respective sections. St. Michael-Albertville (13-0) was seeded No. 2 in Section 8, behind Wayzata. And Irondale (13-0) was seeded No. 4 in Section 4, behind Mahtomedi, Stillwater and White Bear Lake.