As the 2021-22 prep sports year gets underway, there are numerous changes compared with a year ago. While several differences are related to the easing of pandemic-restrictions, others are occurring as well, including an additional class in multiple sports.

Soccer, volleyball and cross country are all adding a class in 2021. Soccer and cross country will now have three classes, while volleyball shifts to four. Unlike 2020, this season begins with a full schedule of games and meets and plans for a complete postseason. The Owatonna girls soccer team played in the section final last season.

Last year's bumpy start to fall sports included an initial postponement of football and volleyball to the spring. The Minnesota State High School League, then reversed directions and started those sports in October.

There were no state tournaments for fall sports in 2020. In fact, volleyball never even got a chance to participate in sections. Most football sections held a one-game playoff. Owatonna won its fifth straight section title. Blooming Prairie repeated an unbeaten season to extend their winning streak from their 2019 state championship.

Generally speaking, fans are back at games without restrictions. But one Activities Director told me to check ahead for possible protocols, especially for fall's indoor sports of volleyball and girls swim and dive. Concession stands have been open at a couple of events I've attended. Pep bands should be back in the stands too.

Quite a few districts have gone to electronic ticketing. Again check with the school district or venue you are attending.

Several high school football games have been moved to Saturday due to a shortage of officials. The high school league is seeking officials in most sports. One local official told me it's a rewarding job where the pay is good and you can set your own hours. There is some training involved and you might get a little grief from the fans, but he says it's worth it. (If you are one of those fans who hollers about the officiating during a game, maybe you should take the plunge and become one yourself.)

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The beginning of high school sports is a definite indication that summer is about over. Take a look at these other signs that fall is arriving.

Signs That Summer Is Over In The Minnesota + Wisconsin

Just as fast as it arrives - it's over. But what defines its end point?

People who live in the Midwest have come to fully-appreciate and embrace the four seasons. Spring, summer, fall, winter - each have their highlights. That's why we're always so sad to see each one end. Or are we?

Forget the calendar. Here are the true signs that the summer season is over for folks who live in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Behold The 25 Finalists In The 2021 USA Mullet Championships!

Business in front, party in the back. That is the mullet way of life and in the 80's, they reached their peak. However, they have by no means disappeared and we should all be thankful for that.

You never know where you'll see a mullet next, but they're always a sight to behold. That is why it's so great that the USA Mullet Championships exist.

Here are the 25 finalists for the award, which feature amazing originality and ingenuity. Wisconsin leads the way with 5 finalists hailing from the state, while Minnesota has one representative.

Can't they all win?

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