MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The transition is underway as the state tournament season in high school sports officially starts this week.
The state's best ski teams, both downhill and cross country, are at Giant's Ridge in Biwabik this week for their perspective state tournaments. This weekend, the best dance teams in Minnesota hit Target Center in Minneapolis to determine the best high kick and jazz programs in three classes in the state.
State qualifiers are already being determined in girls hockey, and the boys hockey playoffs get started next week. And we're not far from conference titles being determined on the basketball court.
Here are our top events for the weekend.
State Dance Competition (Friday, Saturday at Target Center)
The best high-kick and jazz programs in Minnesota and their loud fans will be in downtown Minneapolis Friday and Saturday for the annual State Dance Championships at Target Center. The jazz competition is Friday, and the high-kick competition is Saturday. It's our featured event for WCCO-TV's High School Sports Rally.
In both competitions, there will be a preliminary round during the day, judges will cut the field to the finalists and the winners determined in the evening.
In Friday's jazz competition, all three state champions from last year are back. Yellow Medicine East (A), Benilde-St. Margaret's (AA) and Eastview (AAA) will all likely be favored to win it again if they have error-free routines.
Here's a list of the teams competing in all three classes.
A: New Ulm Cathedral, PACT Charter, Aitkin, Zumbrota-Mazeppa, Rockford, BOLD, Yellow Medicine East, Crosby-Ironton, Dover-Eyota, Renville County West, Duluth Marshall, St. Charles
AA: Totino-Grace, Sartell-St. Stephen, Mound-Westonka, Rocori, Marshall, Orono, Simley, Chisago Lakes, Benilde-St. Margaret's, Holy Angels, South St. Paul, St. Cloud Cathedral
AAA: Mounds View, Edina, Lakeville South, Wayzata, Forest Lake, Eastview, Blaine, Anoka, Prior Lake, Spring Lake Park, St. Cloud Tech, Maple Grove
In Saturday's high-kick competition, all three state champions from last year are back in Aitkin (A), Totino-Grace (AA) and Eastview (AAA). All three will be tough to knock off. Here are the teams in all three classes.
A: Randolph, Wabasha-Kellogg, Frazee, St. Charles, Montevideo, Dover-Eyota, PACT Charter, BOLD, Crosby-Ironton, Yellow Medicine East, Zumbrota-Mazeppa, Aitkin
AA: St. Cloud Cathedral, Mound-Westonka, Austin, Simley, Fridley, Cannon Falls, Sartell-St. Stephen, Benilde-St. Margaret's, Totino-Grace, Sauk Rapids-Rice, Hutchinson, Marshall
AAA: Eastview, Eden Prairie, Blaine, Spring Lake Park, Lakeville South, St. Cloud Tech, Centennial, Brainerd, Forest Lake, Chaska, Faribault, Wayzata
Friday Boys Basketball: St. Thomas Academy (15-7) at Simley (16-7)
It should be a great game Friday night in the Metro East Conference Friday night as Simley hosts St. Thomas Academy. Both teams are looking to keep pace with Hastings for their league title chances, and the last time the two teams met, the Cadets escaped with a 58-57 victory.
St. Thomas Academy, ranked No. 6 in Class AAA, has won seven of its last eight games after losing to Tartan in double overtime. The Cadets are led by Ryan Jacobsen's 19.7 points per game. The Spartans have won six of their last seven and are led by Jack Stensgard's 16.3 points per game.
Friday Girls Hockey: Centennial (20-6-1) vs. Blaine (19-7-1)
(Section 5AA title game)
A state tournament bid is on the line Friday night as Centennial faces Blaine in the Section 5AA title game at Roseville Ice Arena. The two teams split games during the regular season, with each squad winning a one-goal game. The Cougars come in on an 11-game win streak. They're led by Gabbie Hughes' 54 points, which includes 29 goals. The Bengals have won seven straight games and are led by Paige Beebe's 29 points, including 19 goals. The winner books a trip to the Class AA State Tournament next week at Xcel Energy Center.
Friday Girls Hockey: Minnetonka (20-6) vs. Wayzata (15-9-2)
(Section 6AA title game)
It doesn't get much better than when a pair of top-10 teams square off for a trip to the state tournament on the line. No. 2-ranked Minnetonka will face No. 6-ranked Wayzata Friday night at Parade Ice Gardens, with the winner heading to the Class AA State Tournament. It should be a great game as the teams split in the regular season, with one game decided in overtime. The Skippers have won six of their past seven and beat Hopkins 7-3 to advance to the section title game. They're led by Presley Norby and Annelise Rice, who combined for 42 goals in the regular season. Wayzata has won three straight since a tough four-game stretch near the end of the season. The Trojans are led by Natalie Heising's 29 points in the regular season.
Saturday Boys Hockey: Moorhead (14-7-2) at Hill-Murray (16-7)
Moorhead and Hill-Murray are traditional powers in boys hockey, and they meet Saturday afternoon at Aldrich Arena in the final regular season game for both teams. The Spuds have won seven of their past nine games and are led by Alex Mehnert's 27 points on the season. Jacob Odegard leads the team with nine goals. The Pioneers are loaded with talent and have won six of their past eight games. They're led by Zach Mills' 38 points, which includes 19 goals.
Tune into WCCO-TV's High School Sports Rally at about 10:20 p.m. Friday as Mike Max, Frank Vascellaro and David McCoy will have all the action covered.
for more features.