Is the toughest competition already behind Western Christian? Quite possibly.
Top-ranked Western was placed in a regional bracket with two other top-five teams. The Wolfpack promptly swept through regional play, dumping No. 2 Sheldon in the regional final to avenge last year’s state-semifinal defeat.
There is still quality competition to wade through, but Western is the class of this class. The school is making its 28th state appearance, surpassing Dubuque Wahlert (27 trips) has made as the most frequent qualifier, and is seeking its 13th championship.
No. 8 Dike-New Hartford is another regular. The Wolverines lost Elite all-stater Hannah Willms to graduation, but remain a force and qualified for the 21st time. Five of the team’s eight losses were to state qualifiers. The Wolverines have a tough test right off the bat against No. 7 Grundy Center, a North Iowa Cedar League rival and one of the tournament’s younger teams.
The bottom half of the bracket ought to be competitive. No. 3 Mediapolis is the highest ranked team in the bunch. The Bullettes started the season by winning 26 straight matches and 59 consecutive games. No. 6 Lake Mills is 43-1 and on a 26-match win streak but has a challenging opener against No. 9 Pella Christian, which always plays a strong schedule and is a tournament regular. The Eagles are in town for the fourth straight year.
We’ll play a hunch of an all-Dutch final. And a predictable, familiar champion: Western Christian.
Western Christian over Ridge View in 3
Dike-New Hartford over Grundy Center in 4
Mediapolis over Clarinda in 4
Pella Christian over Lake Mills in 4
Western Christian over Dike-New Hartford in 3
Pella Christian over Mediapolis in 5
Western Christian over Pella Christian in 3