Section assignments announced for next two years

This article submitted by Michael Jacobson on 3/14/01.

If the Bulldog wrestling team is to win its fifth state title in the next couple years, the team will have to do it in Class AA.

The Minnesota State High School League recently released its competitive sports alignments for the 2001-02 and 2002-03 school years. One change for Paynesville sports teams is in wrestling, which will move from Section 6A to Section 5AA.

Each sport is broken into different classes based on enrollment. Then the section assignments are made based on the schools in the class.

Wrestling is the only Paynesville sport that will change classes for the next two years, but several others either changed sections or saw significant shifts in their existing sections.

The cross country teams, for instance, have moved back into Section 5A. For the last two years, the teams competed in Section 6A, and the boys advanced and Jen Hess advanced to state and won titles.

Now both cross country teams will be in Section 5A, which includes St. Cloud Cathedral, a conference rival, and other teams such as Crosby-Ironton, Albany, EV-W /Kimball, and Rockford.

Gymnastics, on the other hand, stays in Section 6A and sees two top teams Sartell and Sauk Rapids-Rice leave. Another state power, Melrose, moves into the section, but this trades two elite teams for one.

In baseball, the Bulldogs remain in Section 5AA, with most of the same teams. One loss will be St. Michael-Albertville, who upset the Bulldogs on their way to the state Class AA title. Replacing STMA in the section will be Maple Lake.

The upcoming baseball season will still use the same section as last year, with Maple Lake in and STMA out in 2002.

In wrestling, in their first year back in Class A, the Bulldogs won the state title in 2000, and then placed fourth this year.

Paynesville was the largest Class A school at this year's tournament, with a 10-12 enrollment of 321. Frazee, St. James, and Sibley East have enrollments around 300; Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale a combined enrollment over 200; and Adrian, Goodhue, and Medford around 150.

Paynesville's projected 10-12 enrollment for 2001-02 is 338, or six less than it was in 1999-00, the last time sections were aligned. At that time, Paynesville moved down to Class A. "We're either the smallest of the AA schools, or the biggest of Class A," said wrestling head coach Virg Vagle.

Now, even though the enrollment in Paynesville's top three grades has dropped, enrollment in other schools has dropped as well, and the cut off for Class A in wrestling is 327. Paynesville will return to Section 5AA in 2001-02 and 2002-03.

The Bulldogs did win this section in 1999. The section has 12 teams, including top squads from Dassel-Cokato, Litchfield, and Rocori.

At least this section is closer to Paynesville, meaning the drives to section tournament will be less.

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