Speaking of Sports

By John Fragodt, Sports Reporter

I’m one of those guys who feels it’s never too early to look ahead.  Take the winter playoffs for example, I’m sure the players and coaches are continually looking at the postseason possibilities, and so am I.

Looking ahead to the Section 3AA Boys Basketball Tourney, the Lakers are 0-12 so far this year and ranked 15th in the section.  The top teams are EV-Watkins (10-1), Redwood Valley (9-3), Morris Area-CA (8-3), Jackson County Central (7-3) and Paynesville (10-4) according to the QRF ranking.

If the playoffs were decided today, the Lakers would face Morris Area in the opening round.

•  In girls basketball, there’s a lot of season left, but of the 15 teams in the section, eight currently have records below .500, while the top five teams according to QRF rankings are NLS (12-0), Fairmont (9-4), Minnewaska Area (9-4), Windom Area (11-3) and Jackson County Central (8-4).

Of those five teams, only NLS and the Lakers are in the north half so the Lakers would be seeded second in their half of the section if the seedings were determined today.

That would also mean Minnewaska Area would open up sectional play against seventh-seeded Montevideo (3-9) as NLS would receive a first-round bye.  If the Lakers would win that game, they would face the winner of the KMS (11-4) vs. Morris (5-7) first-round game with the winner most likely playing state-ranked NLS for the sub-section title.

•  Wrestling has the biggest change this year due to the realignment by the Minnesota State High School League.  The Lakers moved from Section 5A to Section 8AA this year, joining DGF, Pequot Lakes Area, Perham, Roseau, Alexandria, Park Rapids Area, Thief River Falls, Sauk Centre/Melrose, Detroit lakes, United Clay-Becker, Albany and Fergus Falls.

With only one state team berth and two individual state berths per weight class available, state trips in wrestling will be especially hard to come by this season.

Junior Chase Smith hopes to get back to state for a third-straight season, while ninth-grader Miles Wildman also hopes to return to state.  Wildman, who picked up his 75th career win, Friday, is currently ranked fourth at 114 pounds, while Smith recently moved out of the top-10 127-pound state rankings.  There are no other Section 8AA wrestlers ranked in the top-10 at 114 or 133 pounds, but there is a wrestler from Alexandria ranked third at 121 pounds and there is one other 8AA wrestler ranked sixth at 127 pounds.

•  The dance teams also moved to a different section this year, switching from Section 4A to Section 2A, which includes ACGC, BBE-Paynesville, Holdingford, Melrose Area, NLS, Sauk Centre and Litchfield, among others.

The Jazz team is hoping to get back to state for a third-straight season, while the High-Kick team hopes to also return to state after advancing in 2021-22, but failing to qualify to state last year by one placing.

Good luck to the Laker student-athletes as they head into the second half of the winter season.