Changes in Playoff Sections for Owatonna, Blooming Prairie and NRHEG
Blooming Prairie and NRHEG football are changing section assignments in the fall. Owatonna will have to contend with Lakeville North in more sports at playoff time.
The Minnesota State High School League announced changes this weekend for section assignments that cover the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years. Class assignments are determined by enrollment and geography. Competitive success is not a factor according to the high school league.
Defending Section 1A Blooming Prairie is shifting to Section 2A. Their top playoff rival, Faribault Bethlehem Academy, is coming with them. Others in 2A are USC, New Ulm Cathedral, JWP, Minnesota Valley Lutheran and St. Clair. Cathedral won the title last season.
After a couple of years in 3AA, NRHEG football is moving back to 2AA. Maple River, who beat the Panthers in an overtime playoff thriller last fall, is also moving to 2AA. Others in the section are Medford, WEM, Kenyon-Wanamingo, Le Sueur-Henderson, Blue Earth Area, and Mankato Loyola. Norwood Young America won the 2AA title last season.
Owatonna remains in 1-5A, but Faribault moves out of the section. Big Nine champion Northfield joins the section. Austin and the three Rochester schools make it a six-team section. The Falcons, who won the section 1-5A title last fall, move to 2-4A with Waseca, Mankato East, Hutchinson, Marshall, and New Ulm. Hutchinson won that title last season.
Hastings moves out of Section 1AAA after winning titles in 2012 and 2014. Faribault bumps up from 1AA to join Owatonna and defending champ Farmington in the nine-team section.
Kenyon-Wanamingo, a section runner-up six straight years in 1A, moves to 2A to contend with NRHEG, Medford and Blooming Prairie. Jackson County Central, winner of the past six Section 2A titles, goes to Section 3A next winter.
Lakeville North returns to Section 1AAA. The Panthers have won two state titles since leaving the section. Owatonna's post-season has frequently ended with a loss to the Panthers. Lakeville South also joins the section. Red Wing and Hastings move out.
Hastings and Northfield move out of Owatonna's section next winter. Lakeville South and New Prague take their place. The other schools are Lakeville North, Rochester JM, Century, Mayo and Farmington.
Section 1AA boys hockey changes with the addition of Faribault, up from 1A. However, the Falcons remain in the smaller class for girls hockey. No one moves out of the section. It is now a nine-team section for the boys with defending state champion Lakeville North, Lakeville South, Owatonna, Faribault, Farmington, Rochester JM, Mayo, Century and Dodge County.
BASEBALL AND SOFTBALL
Minnesota will add a fourth class to these spring sports in 2016. Section 1-4A will include Owatonna, Century, JM, Mayo, Farmington, Lakeville North, Lakeville South and New Prague.