Packed gyms and arenas with screaming students and pumped up pep bands won't be a thing in the 2021 Minnesota winter section tournaments. No one could have been surprised when Owatonna High School Activities Director Marc Achterkirch said there would be no general admission to the playoffs during an appearance on the AM 1390 KRFO Talk of the Town program with Paul Shea this week.

"With section competition there are no general admission/walk up sales, unfortunately. The state high school league, MDH (Minnesota Department of Health) is still not allowing us to have any sales of tickets at the door. All of our ticket sales are to the family. Advance sales only."

Section wrestling begins this week with Owatonna hosting a pair of quarterfinal matches and a semifinal on Wednesday, March 10. AM 1390 KRFO will provide live coverage with a simulcast on 94.7FM, and online and on the app. Basketball, hockey, gymnastics and swim and dive sections begin next week. Sections for dance have already been held.

Achterkirch said spring registration is underway through Owatonnaactivities.com. All regular spring sports will be held with some adjustments, "There's going to be some restrictions on number of track teams" at a meet for instance. But he added, "Being outside will certainly help."

He encourages students to sign up, "It's such a big deal, I think, for kids to be involved, to be a part of something outside of the classroom, just to connect. You gain more friends. You get to be in front of different mentors, in terms of coaches. It's just a great experience. And hopefully we have great turnout."

Achterkirch says students who decide to do distance learning for the classwork can still sign up for sports and activities.

He is also thrilled for the return of students with a four-day schedule that starts March 30, "I'm excited for our kids to be back." Achterkirch spent 23 years as a match teacher.

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