The way the winter sports postseason schedule works out, fans of girls’ state tournaments are advised to take advantage of this week because it will be a while before the girls take center stage again.
Last week, Alpine and Nordic skiing and dance teams determined state champions. The upcoming week ahead features the girls’ hockey state tournament and gymnastics state meet, meaning that, come Sunday, the lone girls’ sport still competing will be basketball. And that state tournament doesn’t begin until March 18.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the week ahead:
The four-day tournament at Xcel Energy Center starts Wednesday with four Class 1A quarterfinals. The upper-bracket teams are all returnees from 2013 — Alexandria plays defending champion and No. 2-seeded Blake at 11 a.m., followed No. 3 seed Red Wing, featuring high-scoring forward Nicole Schammel, taking on New Ulm. Those four teams have 23 state tournament appearances among them.
The teams in the bottom bracket, while talented, have scant state tournament experience. Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato, the only team with a sub-.500 record (10-17-1), takes on top-seeded East Grand Forks at 6 p.m., and No. 5 seed St. Paul United, which advanced when Achiever Academy withdrew from postseason play before its section final, takes on No. 4 seed Proctor/ Hermantown at 8 p.m. There is only one previous tournament appearance among the group: Proctor/Hermantown in 2010.
The semifinals are 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Friday. The championship is noon Saturday.
There will be a new champion in Class 2A. Minnetonka, which won three consecutive titles from 2011 through 2013, lost a chance for a fourth when it lost to Benilde-St. Margaret’s in the Section 6 semifinals.
The Class 2A quarterfinals take place Thursday. Burnsville will play No. 2 seed Hill-Murray at 11 a.m., followed by Andover playing No. 3 Eden Prairie at 1 p.m. Benilde, the No. 1 seed, plays Roseau at 6 p.m., and No. 5 Mounds View vs. No. 4 Lakeville North rounds out the day at 8 p.m.
The semifinals are 6 and 8 p.m. Friday, and the championship is 7 p.m. Saturday.
There always is drama at the gymnastics state meet, but it’s generally in the individual competition. This year, however, the Class 2A team title could be a showdown between the two teams that have been the best all season.
Two-time defending champion Roseville, which has won six of the past eight titles, and Northfield, which won championships 2010 and 2011, are expected to dual for the large-school crown.
Northfield’s Bailey DuPay, the defending all-around champion who has been the best gymnast in the state all season, leads a deep team that finished the season No. 1 in the state rankings.
Roseville, led by Isis Muller, Carly Wagner and Jessica Strecker, might be the only team deeper than Northfield. Roseville has a history of performing its best on the biggest of stages.
In Class 1A, Melrose has been ranked No. 1 for much of the season and looks to unseat defending champion New Prague.
The meet will be held Friday and Saturday at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion. Team competition is Friday, with Class 1A at 11 a.m. and Class 2A at 6 p.m. The same start times will be used for Saturday’s individual competition.