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Posted On: 09/24/18 4:00 PM
The season is about two months away so it’s time to start sorting through the conference previews, starting with the Big Nine.
2017-18. Order of Finish
Big South – East (LAST YEAR)
Big South – West (LAST YEAR)
Top Ten in State: Waseca, Marshall
Waseca will surely be one of the top teams in state after DeLaSalle. They have an elite player in Class AAA in Malik Willingham, some veterans, and a top sophomore group in Minnesota (Morgan, Dufault, Willingham). Marshall is Marshall, they continue to put up good numbers with tough, smart, skilled players. Love their line-up with Matthew Onken and Noah Puetz up front, Bryce Lance handling, and Bryce Paulsen on the wing. Marshall will be quite tough .
Potential Top Ten: Jackson County Central, Redwood Valley
Jackson County Central and Redwood Valley are both teams that were around .500 last year but they talent is there to be very good. Especially at JCC. Rudy Voss should have a huge year and talent returns with him. JCC is a team that should spend time in the top ten. Redwood Valley isn’t as deep losing four of their top seven but Cole Woodford has a chance to have a special year.
Compete with Most: St. Peter, Worthington, Pipestone, St. James, Luverne,
St. Peter is tough to know. Not sure you can say they are rebuilding when two of the top three guys are back (and Wyatt Olson is a top player in the league) but they need many pieces to step up. St. James has our interest. A 10-16 team last year but all the top guys were juniors a year ago so the record should be turned around. Parker Jones, Kobe Mohwinkel, and Peyton Hanson all return for St. James. Pipestone has enough numbers to usually make games a fight and Luverne brings back all of their key pieces from a 9-win team.
Rebuilding: Blue Earth, Fairmont, New Ulm, Windom
Fairmont is both rebuilding and they can compete with most teams. They lost their five top players to graduation but some nice players off the bench are back. Can Dustin Schultz lead the way? And what will the depth be? Tough to know. Blue Earth struggled last year but their 2020 group led by Grant Strukel is pretty good. New Ulm was a .500 team a year ago and Reece Melby is a nice player. That said a lot of numbers need to be replaced. Windom has a really nice player in Kobe Lovell but we aren’t sure how much more around him there will be. The program is good enough to be better than most in the previous category.
18-19 Conference Predictions
Big South – East
Big South – West
Big South Overall
Malik Willingham, Waseca (12)
Ryan Dufault, Waseca (10)
Matthew Onken, Marshall (12)
Rudy Voss, Jackson County Central (11)
Cole Woodford, Redwood Valley (12)
Wyatt Olson, St. Peter (11)
Reece Melby, New Ulm (11)
Andrew Morgan, Waseca (10)
Bryce Paulsen, Marshall (12)
Andrew Hesebeck, Jackson County Central (11)
Kyreese Willingham, Waseca (10)
Kobe Lovell, Windom Area (12)
Noah Puetz, Marshall (11)
Karasharo Ojulu, Worthington (12)
Jordan Hassing, Jackson County Central (12)
Matt Olsen, Waseca (12)
Dustin Schultz, Fairmont (12)
Seth Lockensgard, St. Peter (12)
Grant Strukel, Blue Earth (11)
Terbuto Ochothow, Worthington (10)
Breaden Rieck, Pipestone (12)