Success at state continues to grow for area high school football and volleyball teams

MARSHALL — When it comes to sending teams to the state tournament, it’s rare to see areas have more than one or two programs make their way to the final stage. But for southwest Minnesota, having multiple teams, especially in football and volleyball, punch their tickets for state is nothing new.

Last season, five teams (four football, one volleyball) were left standing from the area after the section tournament dust had settled. Starting today, the journey toward a state championship begins for six area teams: Minneota and Marshall in volleyball and Wabasso, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, Minneota and Marshall in football.

Some programs have had storied success, veteran experience and multiple state titles. Others are in search of their first championship. But one common goal is shared amongst them: the ability to call themselves champions at the end of the season.

In the 1970s-early 1980s, not many teams saw enough success to get to state. But the 1980s were welcomed with a flood of successful and competitive teams, as four area programs and 13 teams from those four programs went to state in decade, primarily in Marshall volleyball.

The 1990s saw just as much success, as seven football teams and four volleyball teams reached the state level, highlighted by Tracy-Milroy’s five straight trips from 1992-1996.

But it would be in the 2000s and 2010s where the area would see its most success. Since 2000, a total of 27 football teams and 30 volleyball teams made the trip to state, with Tracy-Milroy-Balaton, Minneota or Marshall accounting for all of those volleyball appearances.

What has made these teams so successful for such a long time? Maybe it’s been a veteran coach guiding teams with years of playoff experience. Or perhaps a strong group of athletes that continue to get better and better each and every season. Sometimes its a strong postseason run sprinkled in with a few major upsets along the way.

Whatever the case may be, the area teams in southwest Minnesota are very competitive and the last couple of decades have shown that in full effect. This trend is seeming to continue its trajectory in the near future and teams will continue to find success no matter what sport it is.

For a full preview on all the participating teams, check the sports section in the next few days.