In terms of state tournament play, the week ahead is the busiest of the 2011-12 school year: Boys' tennis, lacrosse, softball and track and field all take place. It's a lot to absorb even without mentioning the ongoing section baseball and golf tournaments. A rundown of the upcoming state tournaments:
• Plenty of story lines make the 2012 tournament worth a look. Can Forest Lake's Dusty Boyer win his state-record fourth singles title in a row? Will Elk River stay undefeated for its first Class 2A state title? Or will the return of Thomas Nath and eighth-grader Ingrid Neel to the Rochester Mayo lineup be enough to lift the Spartans to their second 2A championship in a row? The team tournament is Tuesday and Wednesday, with the individual tournament Thursday and Friday. Class 2A is at the University of Minnesota's Baseline Tennis Center; Class 1A at the Reed-Sweatt Tennis Center in south Minneapolis.
• The tournament appears to have found a home. For the second consecutive year, both the boys and girls will play at Chanhassen High School. The biggest question is whether No. 1 seed Eden Prairie will meet No. 2 seed Blake in the girls' championship game for the sixth year in a row. Blake has won the past two state titles and three of five, but undefeated Eden Prairie whipped Blake 14-8 in the regular-season finale.
• Mankato's wonderful softball complex, Caswell Park, is the site of the sole team-only tournament to be conducted completely outside of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The biggest drama is in Class 1A. The only two undefeated teams in the entire tournament happen to be meeting in the quarterfinals, when Cherry (23-0) plays Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg (24-0). Also in 1A is New Life Academy, which is shooting for its fifth consecutive state championship. The tournament is Thursday and Friday.
• The state meet is always a cornucopia of amazing athletes. Among those to keep tabs on are Richfield's Jessica January, who is shooting for her third Class 2A 100-meter hurdles title in a row; a rubber-match race battle between Shakopee's Maria Hauger and Alexandria's Jamie Piepenberg in the Class 2A 3,200, both having beaten the other in past state meets; and Park of Cottage Grove's R.J. Alowonle, who has a strong chance to break the Class 2A records in the boys' 110 and 300 hurdles, both of which have stood for since the 1980s. The meet begins Friday and concludes Saturday at Hamline University's Klas Field.