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High school league approves top-five seeding

06/12/2012, 7:12am CDT
By DAVID LA VAQUE, Star Tribune

The State High School League approved seeding the top five, aiming to advance the best teams.

The Minnesota State High School League approved seeding the top five teams instead of just four in state tournaments in seven sports Monday.

Beginning next fall, adapted sports, all four classes of boys' basketball, Class 3A and 4A of girls' basketball, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, volleyball and wrestling will seed the first through fifth teams. The former model seeded the top four teams and selected opponents by blind draw. State tournaments in each class generally have eight teams.

The board voted unanimously, and without discussion, at its board of directors meeting in Brooklyn Park.

Since the league began seeded state tournaments six years ago, critics have called for seeding all eight quarterfinal teams.

"Seeding 1-5 attempts to be that happy medium," said coach Ken Pauly, whose Benilde-St. Margaret's boys' hockey team was not seeded before it won the Class 2A state tournament in March. "Once you seed, you're making the statement that you're trying to get the best four teams to the semifinals. This is another step in that direction."

MSHSL executive director Dave Stead said he does not believe seeding five teams is necessarily a step toward seeding all eight.

"If someone requested seeding one to eight and there's enough impetus to do that, they can change that," Stead said. "Not doing one to eight was more of an issue of schools not wanting to be identified as the eighth team."

Seeding all eight teams is easier "if some people know each other pretty well within a class," Stead said. "But when you look statewide, those teams don't often know each other as well."

The league solicited feedback from 16 region committees, as well as coaches associations from each sport, about a preferred seeding model. Regions 1A through 8A, representing outstate schools, voted 5-3 to keep the 1-to-4 model.

Regions 1AA through 8AA, comprising metro-area and larger outstate schools, voted 5-3 in favor of the 1-to-5 model.

In other board news

The MSHSL will seek changing the hockey penalty for contact to head to a 2-minute minor and 10-minute misconduct. The change gives officials more discretion to call a lesser penalty if the contact is inadvertent. Last season the penalty was elevated to a 5-minute major, along with boarding and checking from behind, in the wake of Jack Jablonski's injury.

Associate director Craig Perry, who will seek approval from the National Federation of State High School Associations to amend Minnesota's experimental penalty structure status, said, "There doesn't appear to be any road blocks that would not allow that recommendation to be made."

• The league will request an experimental exemption from a national federation rule prohibiting track and field athletes from wearing jewelry during competition.

• Football teams will again use onside kick rules begun last season. At least four members of the kicking team must be on either side of the kicker when an onside kick is attempted. No member of the kicking team may contact an opponent until the kicked ball has traveled 10 yards.

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