Guillotine: Hastings has edge

Published 8:45 am Thursday, March 17, 2011

On Monday, the Minnesota High School League announced realign sections for all high sports. In Section 1AAA wrestling, Hastings, the No. 2-ranked team in the state, was moved out of Section 3AAA and into Section 1AAA with Albert Lea.

The’s Class AAA editor John Nalan answered questions Wednesday about Hastings’ and Northfield’s addition to Section 1AAA wrestling.

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Q: What is your reaction to Hastings moving out of Section 3AAA and into Section 1AAA?

A: I think this is a real positive and exciting move for wrestling in the state of Minnesota. At this point in time, Apple Valley is just so much stronger than any other team in terms of depth, talent and confidence. Having a perennial powerhouse like Hastings behind Apple Valley in a section is not a positive thing for the sport. The best teams in the state should have a fighting chance to advance to state and perform on the big stage in front of the large crowds. With the new section alignments, I believe they now have that chance.

Q: How does this change Section 1AAA competitively?

A: This certainly raises the bar for teams and individual wrestlers in Section 1AAA. All 14 weights should be stacked with talent and wrestlers that hope to advance to state will need to step up their training. This past year at the section tournament, there were several weights where semi-finalists or even finalists did not have winning records. That is unusual for a wrestling hotbed like southeastern Minnesota. I expect that next year it will be business as usual in Section 1AAA with state-rated wrestlers battling it out at almost every weight.

Q: Who do you think is the favorite to win Section 1AAA next season? Runner-up?

A: This is going to be an exciting section for the fans next season. Hastings and Northfield will both bring solid teams into the mix come tournament time. Right now, I think Hastings would have to get the tip as favorite with Albert Lea a close second. Hastings will have four state placewinners on their team including Section 1AAA’s only returning state finalist in Isaac Eichmann. Albert Lea has three place winners back from last year’s state tournament squad. Traditional powerhouse Owatonna returns one state placewinner and will need to pull from their traditionally deep squad to replace a solid graduating class.