Minnesota State High School League

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. Membership includes nearly 500 schools, including special schools, home schools, and 435 high schools. The State High School League is an affiliate of the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Minnesota State High School League
Minnesota State High School League logo.svg
Map of USA highlighting Minnesota.png
TypeVolunteer; NPO
Legal statusAssociation
Headquarters2100 Freeway Blvd.
Brooklyn Center, MN 55430
Region served
~500 schools
Executive Director
Erich Martens
AffiliationsNational 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 2015 season, the MSHSL created geographic football districts for regular season scheduling. The change was designed to help programs having difficulty finding opponents for an eight-game schedule.[1]

In 2015, the MNHSL board approved a policy on transgender athletes that allowed those born male but identify as female to be eligible for girls’ teams. Girls were already eligible to compete in boys' sports. The policy requires applying for eligibility, sets out criteria for approval including a written statement from a health care professional, and places the decision with the school's activities director. Religiously-affiliated private schools are exempt from the policy.[2]

Class SystemEdit

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.[3] 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 seasonEdit

Section tournamentsEdit

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 two 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 two 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 tournamentsEdit

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.[4]


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
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
Wrestling A
Baseball, Boys A
Swimming and Diving, Girls A
Swimming and Diving, Boys A
Synchronised swimming, Girls None
Basketball, Boys and Girls A
Lacrosse, Boys and Girls None
Gymnastics, Girls A
Tennis, Boys A
Clay Target None
Badminton, Girls None
Fall Classes Winter Classes Spring Classes
One Act Play A
Speech A
Debate None Visual Arts A
Music A
Robotics None


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 alsoEdit


  1. ^ Leighton, Tim (June 1, 2014). "High school football: MSHSL's district scheduling will end conference play". St. Paul Pioneer Press.
  2. ^ La Vaque, David (March 9, 2015). "High School League overwhelmingly approves transgender policy". StarTribune.
  3. ^ Class System
  4. ^ "2014 Boys' Soccer". Archived from the original on March 18, 2014. Retrieved August 10, 2014.
  5. ^ "High School Baseball". The Baseball Cube. Archived from the original on November 21, 2010. Retrieved December 6, 2012.

External linksEdit