Where: U of M Sports Pavilion
A case for the best? After winning the Class 2A all-around championship last year, Northfield’s Bailey DuPay, who is also a three-time state diving champion, expressed concern about returning to gymnastics, citing the toll the sport takes on the body. But she came back stronger than ever. If she wins another all-around title, you can throw her name in the hat among the state’s best ever.
Not dead yet: Things looked bleak for perennial power Perham last fall after longtime coach Charlie Fleck, who guided the program to eight consecutive Class 1A titles from 2004 through 2011, was not retained by the school district for undisclosed reasons. But the Yellowjackets, now coached by former state champ and 2010 alumnus Jenna Schmitz, have rebounded and are expected to give favorite Detroit Lakes a battle for the Section 8 title.
Making noise even in national rankings
When: Feb. 27-March 1
Where: Xcel Energy Center
Big names on the big stage: Totino-Grace junior Lance Benick, already a two-time state champion, is the consensus No. 1-ranked prep wrestler in the country at 195 pounds. Others ranked among the top five nationally are St. Michael-Albertville 126-pounder Tommy Thorn, Apple Valley’s 170-pounder Mark Hall, Sibley East 195-pounder Nathan Rose and Kasson-Mantorville heavyweight Sam Stoll.
Up for grabs: Apple Valley is the Class 3A favorite, but the other two classes lack a clear-cut favorite. Simley has been No. 1 in 2A for much of the year but recently has looked vulnerable. Look for Totino-Grace and Foley to make a serious run. In Class 1A, Jackson County Central’s run of four state titles appears in jeopardy. The Huskies fell to sixth in the most recent state rankings.
Boys’ swimming and diving
Two teams looking for the three-peat
When: Feb. 27-March 1
Where: U of M Aquatic Center
Boisterous crowd: The crowd at the Aquatic Center could cause quite a ruckus this year. The races for individual event championships in both classes is as wide open as they have ever been. There is only one returning state champion in each class.
Three-peat: Eden Prairie (Class 2A) and St. Thomas Academy (Class 1A) are both seeking their third consecutive state championship. Eden Prairie finished third in the True Team state meet while St. Thomas Academy garnered the top spot.
Big names will be in the TV booth
When: March 5-8