The wrestling state tournament takes center stage this week, where 24 wrestling teams and more than 670 individual qualifiers will congregate for three days at Xcel Energy Center. It’s controlled chaos that can overwhelm first-time visitors, yet the organization of the meet is impeccable and by the time the meet concludes Saturday night, 42 individual and three team champions will have been determined.
With so many participants, great story lines are easy to find. Among those worth watching:
• Will Apple Valley’s Mark Hall become the state’s first six-time individual champion? Considering his track record — he hasn’t lost a high school match since his freshman year — it would an upset of gargantuan proportions if he failed to win the Class 3A 170-pound title.
• Can St. Michael-Albertville finally wrest that Class 3A team championship from Apple Valley? The Knights came close in 2012, but the two teams tied in the finals and shared the crown. The last time Apple Valley didn’t win at least a share of the 3A title? 2005.
• Simley will be shooting for its eighth Class 2A title in the past nine seasons. The Spartans are ranked No. 2 in 2A behind Kasson-Mantorville, the only team to disrupt the Spartans streak of championships (2013).
• Defending Class 1A champion Minneota has 14 wrestlers who played for their Class 1A state championship football team in November.
It was upset Saturday as three No. 1 seeds in Class 2A lost in the section semifinals: Minnetonka (Section 2), Blaine (5) and Benilde-St. Margaret’s (6). Add in the fact that Edina lost to Wayzata, ending the Hornets’ bid for a 10th straight state tournament appearance and you have some unanticipated, yet still intriguing, section finals in store this week. Here are a few of the best:
• Section 1: Farmington vs. Lakeville North, Thursday, 7 p.m., at Rochester Rec Center. Lakeville North, the No. 1 seed, has lost to No. 2-seed Farmington twice this season.
• Section 5: Maple Grove vs. Anoka, Thursday, 7 p.m., at Aldrich Arena. Both teams pulled upsets Saturday — Maple Grove ousted top-seeded Blaine, and Anoka cruised past No. 2-seed Centennial.
• Section 6: Wayzata vs. Cretin-Derham Hall, Wednesday, 6 p.m., at Mariucci Arena. Wayzata’s semifinal victory over Edina was the fourth time the Trojans had defeated the Hornets this season.