Big-time is here in fall high school sports
State tournaments loom for boys soccer and girls tennis, and section tournaments get under way for cross country, football and volleyball
In five fall high school sports, it’s crunch time.
On Tuesday, Worthington Trojans cross country teams will gather at Gale Woods Farm in Minnetrista for the Section 2AA meet, and the WHS boys are hoping to grab a second consecutive Minnesota state meet berth there.
Also on Tuesday, the first round of section football begins.
Section 3A volleyball play-in games are tonight (Monday, Oct. 24), and on Friday sections 3A and 3AA commence with quarterfinal contests at various sites. The Worthington High School volleyball squad begins Section 2AAA action on Wednesday of this week.
And on Tuesday, the Luverne girls tennis team opens state tournament team play in Minneapolis.
Finally, the Worthington Trojans boys soccer team plays Richfield in the first round of the state Class AA tournament in Farmington on Wednesday, beginning at 7:30 p.m. It marks the second year in a row that the Trojans compete at state.
A quick summary:
WHS head coach Cory Smidt says there are four teams capable of winning in the boys Section 2AAA race: Worthington, Marshall, Mankato East and Belle Plaine.
“It’s close. As it gets later in the season, it gets more competitive,” said Smidt. “The fourth and the fifth runners are very important.”
Belle Plaine’s best runner is junior Emmett Gerres, who is among the very top competitors in the state. Worthington’s Mikele Walu and Fanuel Wolday have been outstanding all season and recently finished 1-2 at the Big South Conference meet, and teammate Filmon Wolday has also run with the leaders this fall.
“I like my kids’ chances. I wouldn’t bet against ‘em. But it’s going to be hard,” Smidt said.
Here are Tuesday night’s first-round match-ups in the area (all games begin at 7 p.m.):
Section 3AAA: Worthington (5) vs. Tri-City United (4) at Montgomery, Belle Plaine (7) at Fairmont (2), New Ulm (6) at Luverne (3). Waseca (1) has a bye.
Section 3AA: Windom Area (8) at JCC (1), Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial (5) at Redwood Valley (4), St. James Area (7) at Pipestone Area (2), Sibley East (6) at Minnesota Valley Lutheran (3).
Section 3A: Adrian/Ellsworth (5) at MCC (4), Sleepy Eye (7) at Springfield (2), Russell-Tyler-Ruthton (6) at Martin County West (3). Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (1) has a bye.
Section 3 9-Man: HL-O/Fulda (8) at Mountain Lake Area (1), GHEC/Truman (5) at Edgerton (4), Madelia (7) at Hills-Beaver Creek (2), Westbrook-Walnut Grove (6) at Red Rock Central (3).
Worthington leap-frogged ahead of New Ulm in the seedings by virtue of its 35-27 victory over the Eagles on the last night of the regular season. Tri-City United is 3-5.
The Trojans led New Ulm 35-7 in the second half and looked very sharp offensively as Abagotte Opiew, who split time at quarterback, had a big night running the football. Running back Jacari Swinea also had some impressive carries, and the WHS defense was solid.
In Section 2AAA on Wednesday, a 17-11 Worthington High School team will open against Willmar at Willmar beginning at 7 p.m. The Trojans are seeded seventh and Willmar, which is 24-3 on the year, is seeded second.
In Section 3A South, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton is seeded No. 1 while Tracy-Milroy-Balaton is two and Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda is three. Westbrook-Walnut Grove is four, Southwest Christian five and Adrian/Ellsworth six to round out the top six seeds. Minneota and MACCRAY are seeded 1-2 in the north half of the bracket in what is a section loaded with outstanding teams.
In Section 3AA South quarterfinal games on Friday, Pipestone Area (1) hosts St. James Area (8), Redwood Valley (4) hosts Luverne (5), Jackson County Central (2) hosts Montevideo (7) and Windom Area (3) hosts Fairmont (6).
In a first-round state Class A team tournament matchup at Reed Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis, the Section 3A champion Luverne Cardinals will open against Providence Academy beginning at 10 a.m.
Other first-round matches include Rochester Lourdes vs. Pine City, St. James Area vs. Breck, and Litchfield vs. Staples-Motley.
The Trojans are both excited and optimistic that they can win their quarterfinal game and play in the semifinals at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
WHS, the tournament’s No. 4 seed, is 17-2 on the season, with only 2-1 losses to Marshall and Holy Angels marring its otherwise perfect record. Richfield, the No. 5 seed, is 10-4-4.
Richfield defeated St. Thomas 4-0 for its section championship and also holds a 2-1 victory over Holy Angels in the regular season.
Other quarterfinal first-round games have Austin taking on Hill-Murray (1), Princeton playing DeLa Salle (2), and St. Cloud Tech contending with the CEC Lumberjacks (3).