Kingsland near top of annual SEC title count

By: 
S. Lee Epps

Lanesboro edged out Kingsland for this sportswriter's annual, but unofficial, all-sports champion of champions in the Southeast Conference for school year 2018-19. Back at the top for the first time in four years, the Burros added to their all-time lead, topping the rankings for the seventh time in 17 years.

Lanesboro, with 1.67 titles, finished with a slim edge over the 1.58 titles earned by the Knights in their first year of membership.

It was an extremely close encounter with six of the 11 members, including last year's champ Randolph, accounting for at least one championship but nobody with as many as two titles.

State title, too

There was again a state championship with Spring Grove repeating as the nine-man football king. It was the sixth straight year for an SEC/District One team to take that title with Grand Meadow having won the previous four state championships prior to Spring Grove's two-year reign.

Although trap shooting is not an SEC sport, Spring Grove also won the Class 1A state clay target title, the Lions' third straight state triumph, (2A in 2018, 1A in 2017).

Randolph went to state in both softball and baseball while   Spring Grove played in the boys state basketball tournament. The Lanesboro/Fillmore Central/Mabel-Canton track girls and boys both advanced to the True Team State Track Meets.

Counting crowns

This calculation considers only athletic championships won or shared during a school year from fall through spring.

Not all sports crown an overall SEC champion. When there are fewer than 10 teams in a sport, SEC standings are kept in one group with one champion. But when as many as 10 members compete in a sport, standings are kept in two divisions with two division champions but no overall titleholder.

In volleyball, the two division champions play at the end of the regular season, but it is considered a showcase event with no championship at stake.

Some editorial decisions were required, especially on calculating titles won by shared programs — involving two, three and even four schools.

In this unofficial tabulation, a West or East Division championship counts as half a title (basketball, volleyball) as does tying for a full conference championship and a championship in a shared program (Grand Meadow and LeRoy-Ostrander in boys golf in 2018).

A tri-championship counts as a third of a title as does a title won by a three-school shared program (GMLOK in baseball). A four-way championship counts as a fourth of a title as does a championship shared by four schools (GM/L-O/K/S in girls track 2018).

Since Lyle/Pacelli competes as a shared program in all SEC sports, it is considered one program here.

This tabulation treats nine-man football like an SEC sport even though football in Minnesota is technically no longer a self-determined conference competition but instead a district sport with membership assigned by the Minnesota State High School League.

But since the East Sub-District contained eight of the 10 conference grid teams last season, it seems reasonable to include nine-man football. A West Sub-district championship would be included if won by Glenville-Emmons/Alden-Conger.

Girls and boys track and field are the only championships decided during one event — the SEC Track Meet. Although there is a conference golf tournament, the conference championship is decided by the regular-season home-and-away dual matches as are the other sports except track.

As part of shared programs, several SEC members compete for Three Rivers Conference championships in some sports. Those championships are not reflected in this tabulation and neither are those involving Randolph athletes while sharing with Cannon Falls or Northfield. There were two TRC schools (Fillmore Central and Southland) that competed in the SEC as part of shared track and field programs hosted by SEC schools.

No member competed in all 10 races considered here. Kingsland, Grand Meadow and LeRoy-Ostrander were each involved in nine of the competitions. With the Knights moving to nine-man football this autumn, that could make all 10 in 2019-20. Spring Grove competes in only five league races.

Volleyball and boys basketball are the only sports to attract participation from all 11 SEC programs. Only four teams competed in girls golf and the two track titles.

Lanesboro (1.67 titles)

The girls won a 14th straight (15th overall) golf championship. Their SEC dual record is now 95-2 over those 14 seasons with the last setback coming as a forfeit with too few golfers to qualify for a team score.

The L/FC/MC track boys repeated as the 2019 SEC champion, their 22nd title in 26 years.

The L/FC/MC track girls won the SEC title by two points, their first crown in four years and fifth all-time.

L/MC was runner-up in boys golf.

Kingsland (1.58 titles)

Kingsland captured the championship in boys golf and was co-champ in the East Division of girls basketball.

In a shared program, GMLOK won the baseball title and came extremely close in girls track. GMLOKS was runner-up again in boys track.

Spring Grove (1.5 titles)

The Lions converted their second straight regular-season nine-man football title into a second straight state championship and then claimed an ninth straight East Division crown in boys basketball. The SG boys have won 74 straight SEC basketball games and 132 of their last 134 conference contests. They went on to place third in the state basketball tournament.

The volleyball Lions were East Division runners-up with a school-record 26 wins.

Randolph (1.5 titles)

Randolph, since joining the SEC, has won all five softball titles with a 41-1 loop record. The girls went on to win the third place trophy at state.

The Rockets, with a school-record 22 wins, also repeated as West Division champion in boys basketball before finishing second in the section tournament.

Randolph was runner-up in SEC baseball before winning the Section 4A championship.

Mabel-Canton (1.17 titles)

The Cougars repeated as East Division volleyball champs, their 21st straight SEC net title with an incredible 250-5 league record over those 21 seasons. M-C has won 112 straight SEC volleyball matches. 

The volleyball girls also claimed the 1A East Sub-section title, their first postseason championship in four years and 14th all-time sub-section or district crown.

The Cougar boys and girls were both part of the conference L/FC/MC track championships and trips to True Team State.

M-C shared the softball runner-up spot (a third straight second place finish) and went on to win a second sub-section softball championship in the last three years.

Grand Meadow (1.08 titles)

The girls won the East Division volleyball crown, the third straight season they have won or shared that title.

The Superlark girls also shared the division championship in basketball.

The boys were part of the shared GMLOK program that won the baseball championship.

LeRoy-Ostrander (0.33 titles)

L-O was part of the shared GMLOK program that went undefeated in SEC baseball.

LeRoy-Ostrander (GMLOKS) was part of both second place track squads.

Houston (0.25 titles)

The Hurricanes remained atop the SEC East in girls basketball, sharing the crown this year.

The state-ranked football boys were sub-district runners-up for the second consecutive season.

Lyle/Pacelli (0.25 titles)

The Athletics were co-champions in West Division girls basketball, their seventh straight season atop that SEC race. With a 12-1 SEC record, the girls extended their amazing conference winning streak to 97 games before dropping their first league game since 2013.