Laker teams in middle of section shakeups

A section and class shakeup was passed by the Minnesota State High School League this spring, with the changes taking effect starting next fall season.

A section and class shakeup was passed by the Minnesota State High School League this spring, with the changes taking effect starting next fall season.

Every two years, the MSHSL re-evaluate its sections and classes and rearranges according to changing enrollments. This year was a bit more eventful than usual.

For Detroit Lakes sports, the changes will be felt drastically by five teams -- including boys' and girls' golf, baseball, softball and boys' hockey.

For several of those sports, a class addition will make DL one of the larger school teams in Section 8, rather than one of the middle to smaller schools.

Baseball, softball, boys' tennis and both golf divisions have each expanded from two to three classes, with the Laker squads being classified in the middle-sized Class 2A.


So, instead of playing teams like Moorhead or Bemidji, those DL squads are in larger sections including mid-sized schools such as Breckenridge, Frazee, Pelican Rapids and Perham.

"Looking at the big picture, it is overall advantageous for some of our teams," said DL activity director Rick Manke on the class and section changes. "One unfortunate part, though, is distance-wise for travel, it pretty much is the same."

For boys' hockey, there wasn't a class addition, but a section move.

The Lakers will move back to their familiar digs of Section 6-1A from the traditionally tougher Section 8-1A.

DL will leave Section 8-1A, in which it's been classified for the last five years, and go back south to restart its rivalry with Fergus Falls.

Section 6-1A now includes Alexandria, Breckenridge, Little Falls, St. Cloud Apollo, Sartell, Benson/Morris and Wadena-Deer Creek.

Even though Section 8-1A is considered one of the tops in the state, DL head coach Jason Vold respects what Section 6-1A will have to offer, as well.

"It's a section which has gotten a lot stronger than it was in the past," he said. "I think we'll have a good shot at it year in and year out, but there are some very good teams in it and I respect all of them."


Next year Section 6-1A will probably have the Class 1A state favorite, Little Falls, providing all three of its top scorers return and not go junior.

The Laker volleyball team will see plenty of different challenges in section play next fall, as it stays in Class 2A, with a third class for larger schools being added.

Section 8-2A grows to 16 teams (with Moorhead, Alexandria and St. Cloud schools going Class 3A), which includes familiar teams such as Perham and Thief River Falls. But DL will be one of the larger enrolled schools, with smaller districts such as Wadena-Deer Creek, Frazee and Pelican Rapids included.

"We'll be one of the larger schools and will be going north in that section," Manke said.

Both the boys' and girls' golf teams will see plenty of different competition in their two-day Section 8-2A tournaments, with the addition of Class 3A.

Out are traditional section foes such as Bemidji, Moorhead, Alexandria, Brainerd and the St. Cloud teams and in are smaller schools such as Breckenridge, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, Perham, Roseau, Walker-Hackensack-Akely and Hawley/Ulen-Hitterdal.

DL head boys' golf coach Bob Gorden likes the addition of the third class, which will allow more golfers to make the state meet.

"The main thing is more good players can make state," he said. "This state has so many good golfers and that will allow them to make the state meet, which is good.


"It's also a big change for us, because we've been going against these schools (in Section 8-2A) forever. Thief River Falls will be the only team coming with us into the (new section).

"We can still only control what we do. The section will still be tough, with Crookston and Roseau very good."

Area teams that will be in both the boys' and girls' Section 8-2A include Breckenridge, D-G-F, Fergus Falls (for the girls), Park Rapids, Pelican Rapids, Perham and Hawley/Ulen-Hitterdal.

Baseball and softball have seen a similar transformation from being classed with the usual smaller school to the larger school.

Now, instead of teams like Bemidji, Brainerd and Moorhead, the Laker baseball and softball squads will each see Park Rapids, Pequot Lakes, Roseau, Perham Thief River Falls, Crookston and W-DC, among others.

There are 16 teams in each of the baseball and softball Section 8-2A brackets.

"There will be potentially more success and the ability to go deeper in the playoffs now," said DL head baseball coach Steve Fuhs. "Being a larger school helps your chances."

The first two rounds in the tournament for baseball, starting next year, will be single elimination, then will go to a final four format of double elimination.


Boys' tennis also loses some big-time, traditionally tough teams like Alexandria, Brainerd and Bemidji. The Lakers now will be one of the largest schools with teams like Crookston, Park Rapids, Perham and W-DC joining.

For many of these listed sports, the Mid-State Conference teams will be in DL's section playoffs now.

The added classes will bring about a three-class system for most sports, according to enrollment numbers.

Of course, every activity can have a different amount of classes because, for instance, not every school has hockey, but the majority of Minnesota schools have football.

So, there obviously will be more classes in football than hockey because of those number differences.

The DL district usually lands in abnormal territory -- not large enough to be considered to be among the big schools and not small enough to be considered small.

"We fit in between, and not many schools do," Manke said. "But it doesn't matter who you are playing (in section playoffs), because there are no gimmies."

The direction of many a Laker team's path toward a berth in a state tournament has changed dramatically.


But in the end, you still have to play the games, no matter who you face in them.

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