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New section alignment means changes for some area teams

Alexandria's Marki Oberg gets to the puck behind the net in a game against St. Paul United on Nov. 10, 2018. Oberg and the Cardinals will make the jump to Class AA starting next season after dominating its section at the Class A level over the past decade-plus. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)

The Minnesota State High School League board of directors met on April 4 and approved the section assignments for teams over the next two school years through the 2020-21 season.

Full section assignments for every school in Minnesota can be seen at www.mshsl.org/sections/. Here are some of the biggest changes for area teams.

Girls hockey moves up to AA

Perhaps the most notable change for Alexandria comes in girls hockey.

The Cardinals fell to Fergus Falls in the Section 6A title game this season, but Alexandria has dominated its section at the Class A level through much of the last decade before this year. The Cardinals have made eight state tournaments since 2010, but they now have to go through a Class AA field in Section 8 after jumping up a class.

Joining Alexandria in Section 8AA is Bemidji, Brainerd-Little Falls, Buffalo, Moorhead, Roseau, St. Cloud and Sartell-St. Stephen. Brainerd-Little Falls won the 8AA title this past season and went on to finish second at the Class AA state tournament after losing in two overtimes to Edina in the championship.

Section 8AAA basketball

The Alexandria basketball teams are still in Section 8AAA, but a notable change to both the boys and girls sections is the subtraction of rival Fergus Falls.

The Otters have a grade 9-12 enrollment of 596 students this year. By comparison, Alexandria's 9-12 enrollment is 1,112.

With those lower numbers, Fergus Falls has moved down to Class AA in basketball and will play out of Section 8 for both the boys and the girls. The Otters have had good teams on the boys' side in the past, but the Alexandria and Fergus Falls girls have battled as two of the premier powers in Section 8AAA for much of the last handful of years.

Both teams played in the section title game this season. Both the boys and girls Section 8AAA basketball fields will now feature Alexandria, Bemidji, Detroit Lakes, Little Falls, Sartell-St. Stephen, Sauk Rapids-Rice, St. Cloud Apollo and St. Cloud Tech.

Alex wrestling moves down to AA

The Alexandria wrestling team will move out of its current class as the Cardinals jumped down to Section 8AA after wrestling in Section 8AAA.

Alexandria will now compete in an 11-team field with Detroit Lakes, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, Fergus Falls, Pequot Lakes-Pine River-Backus, Perham, Pierz, Roseau, Sauk Centre-Melrose, Thief River Falls and United Clay Becker.

Detroit Lakes added in girls golf

The Alexandria girls golf team will stay in the same Section 8AAA field it is used to, but the Cardinals will have a new power to complete with come tournament time next spring.

Detroit Lakes made the jump from Class AA to Class AAA and will play in Section 8, along with the Cardinals, Becker, Bemidji, Brainerd, Buffalo, Monticello, Moorhead, St. Cloud Apollo, Sartell-St. Stephen, Sauk Rapids-Rice, St. Cloud Tech and Willmar.

Detroit Lakes has won three straight Class AA state championships in girls golf. Last year's title was the seventh overall for the Lakers.

Rocori added in baseball

The Alexandria baseball team will stay in the Section 8AAA field that it has won each of the last two seasons, but the Cardinals have another good program to contend with starting next season.

Rocori finished second at the Class AAA state tournament in 2018 after winning Section 5AAA. The Spartans will now join Alexandria, Bemidji, Detroit Lakes, Little Falls and Sartell-St. Stephen in the six-team 8AAA field starting in 2020.

Rocori has been to nine state tournaments in its program history, including four since the 2010 season.

Alexandria moves up to AA in gymnastics

The Alexandria gymnastics team also made the jump up to Class AA after competing in the Section 8A field.

The Cardinals are now a member of Section 8AA. Bemidji, Brainerd, Buffalo, Moorhead, Sartell-St. Stephen, Sauk Rapids-Rice and St. Cloud Tech join them there.

Osakis boys back to Section 6AA in basketball

The Osakis boys basketball team played out of Section 8AA the last two years, but has moved back to its old home in Section 6AA with the new alignment.

The Silverstreaks went 26-2 this past year. Section 8AA also featured strong programs like Hawley and Perham.

The move back to Section 6 does not necessarily mean things will get any easier with it being an 18-team field. Melrose and Albany played for the section title this season, with Melrose winning a 52-51 game.

The full Section 6AA boys field now includes Albany, Annandale, Eden Valley-Watkins, Foley, Holdingford, Kimball Area, LPGE, Maple Lake, Melrose, Milaca, Mora, Osakis, Pine City, Royalton, Rush City, Sauk Centre, Spectrum and St. Cloud Cathedral.

Osakis' football section down to six teams

The Section 6AA football field that Osakis competed in has moved from eight teams to six teams.

The section was made up of Pillager, Breckenridge, Osakis, Morris Area, West Central Area-Ashby, Wadena-Deer Creek, LPGE and Staples-Motley this past fall. Breckenridge and Morris Area were moved out of the section, with the other six teams remaining during this alignment.

Much remains the same in Section 6A

The Brandon-Evansville football team will continue to play out of the Section 4, 9-Man field, while the Chargers stay in Section 6A for every other activity.

West Central Area will also play out of Section 6A in every activity but football (Section 6AA) and boys golf (Section 5A).

Parkers Prairie finds itself in the 6A field in everything but football (4A) and girls tennis (8A). Ashby also remains in Section 6A for everything but football, where the Arrows are a co-op with West Central Area in 6AA.

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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