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home : columns : joel alvstad July 26, 2017

3/15/2017 2:48:00 PM
A new era begins for newly-formed MLAC spring sports pairing

Joel Alvstad
Sports Editor

The winter sports season for most schools in the region has come to a conclusion and spring sports officially got underway Monday for most of the fastpitch and track teams in the state.
Due to Monday's section basketball tournament games, the decision was made to delay the start of spring practices for the Wolverine fastpitch and track teams.
Those first practices were held yesterday (Tuesday). For fastpitch, the first workout officially ushered in a new era.
Tuesday was the first practice for the paired program between Mt. Lake Public, Mt. Lake Christian and Comfrey schools.
The pairing, which will go by Mt. Lake Area-Comfrey Wolverines, will also be in place for baseball and golf. How quickly the baseball pairing gets going, officially, will depend on whether the Comfrey players continue through the basketball playoffs. While Mt. Lake Area was knocked out Monday, Cedar Mountain-Comfrey picked up a win to advance to the Section 2A finals against Springfield.
At this point, it's still uncertain how many, if any, golfers will participate from Comfrey. Comfrey has not offered golf in the recent past.
The pairing should improve numbers and create competition for playing time. It should give players the chance to develop, and succeed, at a level appropriate to their level of skill.
I am still curious to find out which events will be held in Comfrey. Comfrey has a very nice softball facility and has made big improvements to its baseball field. It should be able to host at least a few varstiy-level events. I hope the coaches and administrators make every effort to make that a reality.
It should be an exciting spring. I'm looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds.
Section alignments
I anticipated seeing the new section alignments from the Minnesota State High School League, but they have not yet been announced.
The MSHSL has a new formula for cooperative offerings, beginning next year. It will factor the full enrollment of the largest school in the pairing, then add 50 percent of other participating schools.
I have only seen a few preliminary numbers from a couple of schools. I've heard that the Windom-Mt. Lake wrestling team will remain in Class A. I've also heard the Windom golf teams are likely heading to Class AA, while the RRC/WWG baseball team will be dropping down to Class A.
Future options?
Typically, to determine the listed enrollment of a school, the MSHSL takes the average daily enrollment report for grades 9-12 from each school, as of Oct. 1. It then subtracts a percentage of the school's free and reduced lunch population. The final number it comes up with will be used to determined the next two years of MSHSL class and section alignment.
It will be interesting to see where the numbers come in for various schools and what it means to possible future cooperative ventures.
Obviously, the pairing between Mt. Lake Public, Mt. Lake Christian and Comfrey comes immediately to mind. From the start, Mt. Lake Public has indicated a willingness to discuss possible cooperative options beyond just spring sports. However, Mt. Lake Public has made it clear that it wants to be able to remain in Class Nine-Man for football, should talks eventually progress beyond spring sports.
For its part, Comfrey officials have said from the start that they were looking primarily at spring sports. It has shared programs with Cedar Mountain for over 15 years.
In June, the pairing committee will review how the spring season went. And if things went well, it could possibly open the door to further cooperation.

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