Mara Bauer

Mara Bauer and Faribault girls swim and dive host Mankato East on Thursday for the Falcons’ last home dual until Sept. 26. (Mike Randleman/Faribault Daily News)

With Labor Day weekend in the books, the fall sports season hits the accelator until MEA break in mid-October.

Here’s a look at some of the matchups, events and competitions coming up through the weekend.

Thursday, Sept. 5

- Faribault Community Night, 4:15 p.m.-6 p.m. — There’s a full day of football in the eve of Friday night lights. The Faribault Football Association is organizing this community night, which features youth practices, a middle school scrimmage against Byron and Owatonna, and a high school practice. The FFA is feeding all athletes with hot dogs, water and chips. All Faribault youth football players are asked to arrive to the high school grass fields for a photo at 5:50 p.m.

- Hayfield cross country invitational, 4:10 p.m. — The Oaks Golf Course transforms into a 5K trail hosting 11 teams: Blooming Prairie, Chatfield, Goodhue, Grand Meadow, Hayfield, Kingsland, Lyle-Pacelli, Pine Island, Plainview-Elgin-Millville, Waterville-Elysian-Morristown/Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton and Zumbrota-Mazeppa/Kenyon-Wanamingo. Last year’s meet was canceled due to weather. Thursday’s forecast looks dry but with temperatures approaching 80 at race time.

The WEM/JWP girls are seeking their second meet win in a row. Z-M/K-W freshman is gunning for her first win of the season after placing second against an elite field at the St. Olaf High School Showcase.

Schedule of events: 4:15 p.m. national anthem, 4:15 p.m. boys and girls junior high 1.5 mile race, 4:40 p.m. JV and varsity girls, 5:25 p.m. JV and varsity boys

- Faribault girls tennis at Rochester Mayo, 4:30 p.m. — The Falcons face the toughest opponent on their schedule. Mayo is ranked No. 4 in Class AA and its only loss in six matches was to AA No. 1 Edina. The Spartans’ five wins were all sweeps. While the Spartans currently lack a top-10 player, their depth makes them the favorite to return to state yet again in Section 1. Faribault is 2-4 on the season and 0-3 in the Big 9. The Falcons played a lot of matches in the opening two weeks but come into this one with a week of rest.

- Faribault girls swim and dive vs. Mankato East, 6 p.m. — This is the Falcons’ third straight home dual meet to open the season before hitting the road until Sept. 26. The East Cougars enter 3-0 with 94-87 wins over New Prague and Red Wing and a 90-55 win against Tri-City United/Le Sueur-Henderson. Faribault is 0-2 (0-1 Big 9) but has won the majority of events in losses to St. Peter and Winona.

East features the defending 50-yard freestyle champion, junior Madison Hogue, who also went to state in the 100 butterfly. Her and Faribault junior Verity-Wray Raabolle (fifth at sections) could be in for a good race in the 100 fly. Faribault junior Abby Larson is the defending 500 freestyle section champion. East junior Grace Busch was fourth in the 500 albeit over 10 seconds behind. The Cougars also have strong 200 and 400 relays.

- MSAD volleyball at Lakes International Language Academy, 7 p.m. — The Trojans had over a week to prepare for this second match of the season. MSAD went five sets with Liberty Classical Academy on Aug. 27. This is the LILA Dragons’ season opener.

- Faribault volleyball vs. Rochester John Marshall, 7 p.m. — The Big 9 season opens up at home for a Falcon team hungry for win No. 1. Faribault (0-2) has been battle tested against Farmington and Waterville-Elysian-Morristown. It now squares off against a John Marshall team it lost in five sets to last year. JM needed five sets to get by at Fillmore Central (a 17-12 Class A team in 2018, 1-2 in 2019) and was swept at Class AA Cannon Falls.

- Faribault girls soccer at Albert Lea, 7 p.m. — The Falcons will have good memories returning to Jim Gustafson Field. As a freshman, Mercedes Huerta scored a goal in each half of a 2-0 Section 2A playoff win on a cold, blustery October night. Albert Lea (0-4, 0-2 Big 9) returns all but one player from last year’s roster and have all-Big 9 players at midfield, goalie and on defense. Two of the Tigers’ losses have come by a goal and two by two goals. Faribault seeks its first goal since scoring five in the season opening win at Cannon Falls.

- Faribault boys soccer vs. Albert Lea, 7 p.m. — The Falcons look to keep soaring after a 4-0 start in which they’re outscoring opponents 10-1 (7-1 in Big 9 play). Albert Lea desires its first goal after losing 4-0 at Mankato West (3-1), 3-0 at Rochester Century (3-2) and 6-0 vs. Class A No. 9 Austin (2-1) in a duanting opening stretch. The Falcons will want to avenge a 3-2 loss in Albert Lea last year in which a potential game-tying goal by Ahmed Ali was disallowed with .3 seconds remaining.

- Bethlehem Academy volleyball at Blooming Prairie, 7:15 p.m. — The Cardinals (0-3) on paper have their best shot to date at winning their first match here in the Gopher Conference opener. Doing so will require beating a team that’s gotten some of the most reps in the state. The Awesome Blossoms (4-5) played five best-of-three set matches at the Rochester Century invite where they went 3-2 with both losses to Class AAA Austin. BA’s losses are to two state-ranked teams and an improved AAA Eden Prairie team that’s 7-1. BA hasn’t lost to BP this century, though this is projects as one of the more even matchups in the series.

- Waterville-Elysian-Morristown volleyball vs. Maple River, 7:15 p.m. — The WEM Bucs (2-1) are feeling good heading into their Gopher Conference opener against the unbeaten Eagles (2-0). WEM took Class A No. 1 Kenyon-Wanamingo to four sets earlier this season and picked up a big win Tuesday in five sets at AA No. 6 Belle Plaine. Maple River’s two wins came against winless teams, so this will be its first big test. WEM swept last season’s match 3-0 in Mapleton.

- Kenyon-Wanamingo volleyball vs. Pine Island, 7:15 p.m. — The Knights are in The Castle for the first time this season. Pine Island lost a lot of contributors from last year’s 13-17 squad, which was one of the Panthers’ better squads of the decade. Class A No. 1 K-W has one of the best resumes in the state with wins already over Class A No. 8 Caledonia and A No. 5 WEM. K-W has won 42 sets and 16 matches in a row against PI dating back to Sept. 16, 2008.

Reach Sports Editor Mike Randleman at 507-333-3119 or on Twitter @fdnmike.

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