The spotlight is on the Iron Range this week, where the first winter sports state tournaments of 2019 take place. The Alpine and Nordic ski racing meets are Wednesday and Thursday in Biwabik .
The Alpine meet comes first, with racers taking two runs down the slalom hills at Giants Ridge Ski Area.
A new boys’ champion will be crowned with the graduation of last year’s winner, Hermantown’s Austin Danelski. Among the favorites are Edina’s Berghult brothers — Adam, a ninth-grader, and Carl, a senior. They finished 1-2 in the Section 6 meet last week.
Eden Prairie senior Becca Divine will be shooting for her second straight victory in the girls’ competition. Divine goes into Wednesday’s competition in state tournament form after winning the Section 6 championship. The last girl to repeat as champion was Lakeville South’s Niki Larson, who won titles in 2007, 2008 and 2010.
The Nordic races will be held Thursday. Grand Rapids’ Garrett Beckrich, perhaps the state’s top freestyle racer, and Wayzata senior Mara McCollor will be seeking back-to-back pursuit titles.
The boys’ 5K freestyle race will begin at 10 a.m. with the girls’ starting at 11:15. The second half of the pursuit format, the classic style race, will start at 2 for the boys and 3 for the girls.
All 16 state tournament berths will be decided this week. While many of the sections have yet to hold their semifinals, others have already determined their championship-game matchups. They are listed below:
Class 2A finals
Section 1: Lakeville North vs. Farmington (at Owatonna Steele County Arena), Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
Section 3: Eagan vs. East Ridge (at IGH Vets), Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Section 7: Andover vs. Forest Lake (at Fogerty), Thursday, 7 p.m.
Class 1A finals
Section 1: Rochester Lourdes vs. Faribault (at Owatonna Steele County Arena), Thursday, 5 p.m.
Section 2: Hutchinson vs. Mound Westonka (at Gustavus), Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
Section 3: Mankato West vs. Mankato East (at Gustavus), Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.
Section 7: Duluth Marshall vs. Proctor (at Virginia), Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Section 8: Thief River Falls vs. Warroad (at Crookston), Thursday, 7 p.m.