In the new realignment announced by the high school league over the weekend, Albert Lea Area comes back into Section 1AAA. OHS girls hockey moves back into Section 1AA.

The rivalry between Owatonna and Albert Lea in wrestling is about to get a little more intense. With the realignment announced by the Minnesota State High School League on Saturday, the teams will both be in Section 1AAA for 2017-18, as they were for many years. From 1996 to 2011 the Huskies won 10 section titles. The Tigers captured six. Many times it came down to Owatonna and Albert Lea in the finals.

The Tigers have spent the past few years in Class AA, where they ran into powerhouse Kasson-Mantorville frequently. Albert Lea won the 1AA title in 2015. Owatonna won 1AAA titles in 2013 and 2017.

Owatonna and Albert Lea have dominated the Big Nine as well. The conference website shows that only those two have won the league title since the 1995-96 season. The Huskies topped the Tigers on criteria during an early January match at OHS.

The path to state won't get any easier for Kasson-Mantorville however. Simley, whom the Komets beat in the AA state championship match in early March, got moved to Section 1AA. One program or the other has won the last nine state titles in Class AA.

After two seasons in Section 1A, the Owatonna girls hockey program is back in 1AA. The Huskies were section runner-up in 2016 and played in the semifinals in 2017. OHS will have a new coach for 2017-18. Seventeen-year head coach Tim Hunst announced his resignation in a letter posted to the Owatonna youth hockey website this month.

The other teams in Section 1AA for girls hockey include Farmington, Lakeville North and South, Northfield, John Marshall, Mayo, Century and Dodge County. The Raiders also move up to 1AA for at least the two-season cycle.

Section 1AA boys hockey adds Hastings as a new team. Northfield, who won their first section title this season, stays in single-A but moves to Section 4A.

After winning Class A championships in football and boys basketball this school year, Minneapolis North Community School moves up to AA in both sports.

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