Minnesota State High School League

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Minnesota State High School League
Minnesota State High School League (logo).jpg
Map of USA highlighting Minnesota.png
Abbreviation MSHSL
Formation 1916
Type Volunteer; NPO
Legal status Association
Purpose Athletic/Educational
Headquarters 2100 Freeway Blvd.
Brooklyn Center, MN 55430
Region served
~500 schools
Official language
Executive Director
David Stead
Affiliations National Federation of State High School Associations
Website mshsl.org
Remarks (763) 560-2262

The Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) is a voluntary, non-profit association for the support and governance of interscholastic activities at high schools in Minnesota, United States. The association supports interscholastic athletics and fine arts programs for member schools. As of 2010, the organization cited a membership of nearly 500 public and private schools, including home schools, charter schools and 435 high schools. The State High School League is an affiliate of the National Federation of State High School Associations.

The League also addresses sportsmanship, chemical health, scholarship recognition, and oversees tournament officials and judges. The League provides educational programs for coaches. The organization's operating revenue is derived solely from tournament ticket sales, broadcast rights, corporate sponsorship, and sale of tournament merchandise.


The MSHSL was founded in 1916 as the State High School Athletic Association in order to promote and regulate school athletics. It later expanded its mission to include fine arts programs.

Beginning with the 2014-15 season, the MSHSL created geographic football districts from which regular season scheduling would be derived. This was prompted by the occurrence of several prominent programs having to find opponents from outside the state in order to fill out an eight game schedule.[1]

In 2014 the MNHSL board introduced a measure to concerning policy on transgender athletes.[2] In October 2014, after several hearings, the board vote to table the measure.[3]

Class System[edit]

2009 Boys AA Championship game at the Xcel Energy Center.

On April 17, 1975 the member schools of the Minnesota State High School League approved amendments that provided the changes necessary to implement reorganization for two class competition.[4] Prior to this, schools of all sizes were competing against each other. The idea behind the division was to reduce the inherent advantage that was given to the larger schools. The Board of Directors assigned the largest 128 schools by enrollment to the AA classification. All other member schools were assigned to Class A. Each class is then split into eight sections, with the number of teams in each section varying. In April 1983 the Board of Directors adopted a policy which assigned schools with a minimum enrollment of 500 students to Class AA and schools with an enrollment 1-499 to Class A. Depending on the number of schools participating in an activity, additional classes may be needed or no class system may be needed at all. The highest current class in any activity is AAAAAA (6A) for football.

Post season[edit]

Section tournaments[edit]

At the end of the regular season, every MSHSL team is seeded into a sectional tournament. For each class, the state is divided into 8 sections. Every two years, the MSHSL determines a school's activity classification and section placement. Different sections have different numbers of teams depending upon the class and activity in question. For example, most sections in football have 8 teams. In a typical 8-team section, all 8 teams will make the playoffs regardless of their regular season record. If a football section has 9 teams, then the ninth team will not make the playoffs. In all other sports, every team advances to the postseason. In basketball, for Classes AAAA and AAA, a typical section has 8 team, whereas a typical section in Class AA has about 16 teams, and a Class A section can have 20 or more. In these cases where a section has more or less teams than an even 8 or 16, higher seeded teams may receive byes, or lower seeded teams may have to play an extra play-in game. The other option is for a section to be divided into two 8-team (or more) sub-sections with the sub-section champions playing for the section title.

These sections are strictly geographical, and are normally numbered from Southeast to Northwest. Thus, with football, for example, Section 1AAA would have schools in Class AAA that are from the Southeastern part of the state, while Section 7AAAA will have Class AAAA schools from the Northeastern part of the state. As a general rule, this serves pretty well, however it breaks down when dealing with the larger classes. In Class AAAAA Football, given the concentration of large schools in the Twin Cities Metro, Section 1AAAAA comprises the three Rochester public schools, Owatonna, and four southern suburbs. At the other end, Section 8AAAAA covers the entire northern half of the state with Bemidji, Brainerd, Moorhead, one of the St. Cloud public schools, and three northern exurbs. Sections 2AAAAA-7AAAAA are a mixture of suburbs, exurbs and Minneapolis/St. Paul schools.

Each section has its own methods and procedures for determining seeding in the section tournament. Some sections use elaborate point systems while others base seeding simply on records. The winner of the section tournament advances to State.

State tournaments[edit]

The winners of the section tournaments are seeded into a single elimination state tournament. Pairings of section champion at State are predetermined before the season by the MSHSL. In the Fall of 2005, the MSHSL experimented by having coaches seed the State Soccer Tournament.[5]


The following sports are offered under the supervision of the MSHSL. All of these sports have a single elimination tournament at the end of the season which awards a state championship to the winning team. Some sports also award individual championships as well.

For a complete list of state championship winners by sport see the list of Minnesota State High School League State Championships.

Fall Classes Winter Classes Spring Classes
Adapted Soccer None Adapted Floor Hockey None Adapted Bowling None
Tennis, Girls A
Nordic Ski Racing, Boys and Girls None Adapted Softball None
Soccer, Boys and Girls A
Hockey, Boys and Girls A
Golf, Boys and Girls A
AAA (boys)
Cross Country, Boys and Girls A
Alpine Skiing, Boys and Girls None Track and Field, Boys and Girls A
Volleyball, Girls A
Dance Team, Girls A
Softball, Girls A
Football 9-man[1]
Wrestling A
Baseball, Boys A
Swimming and Diving, Girls A
Swimming and Diving, Boys A
Synchronized Swimming, Girls None
Basketball, Boys and Girls A
Lacrosse, Boys and Girls None
Gymnastics, Girls A
Tennis, Boys A
  1. ^ - 9-Man is for schools too small to be placed in Class A.
Fall Classes Winter Classes Spring Classes
One Act Play A
Speech A
Debate None Visual Arts A
Mock Trial None Visual Arts A
Music A[2]
  1. ^ - Sections 3, 6, and 8 do not sponsor a competition[6]
  2. ^ - only Sections 4A, 5A, and 6A sponsor competition[7]
  3. ^ - All sections, 1AA through 8AA, have a competition[7]


Because of the large number of high schools and large distances spanned between some of them, many schools are organized into conferences. These conferences, which, according to Minnesota State High School League rules, must have a minimum of five members, are usually composed of schools that are in close geographic proximity and have similar enrollments. During the regular season, a school plays a number of its games against other teams in its conference (this number varies depending on the sport and conference in question). However, unlike with organizations such as the California Interscholastic Federation or Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, a team's conference standing has no bearing on its postseason. Since every team makes the playoffs and seeding is done at the discretion of the section, a team's conference performance has no direct effect on its postseason fate. A team could win its conference, but still be seeded lower than teams that finished behind it due to other considerations such as overall record, or the strength of opponents. Often, teams from one conference are spread over different sections and sometimes different classes. Some single sport conferences also exist, especially for hockey.


The following athletes are among those who were in Minnesota State High School League activities in high school:





See also[edit]


External links[edit]