Mayo football to make jump to Class 6A as part of major shake-up in southeastern Minnesota prep football

Coach Donny Holcomb confirmed the news on Thursday, along with other changes involving Stewartville and Austin.

Northfield, Mayo football
Mayo's Ethan Kramer (left) and Tore Papenfuss lead the Spartans onto the field before a game against Northfield last season.
Alex VandenHouten / Post Bulletin

There had been rumors circulating that the next prep football season would see Mayo High School make the jump up to Class 6A.

Turns out those rumors are true.

The MSHSL recently released the enrollment of all member schools in a process they do every two years. There are 32 spots based on enrollment numbers in Class 6A and Mayo’s number of 1,630 students comes in at No. 32.

So starting next season, the Spartans will be classified in 6A as part of a major shake-up to southeastern Minnesota prep football. Mayo coach Donny Holcomb confirmed the news on Thursday.

“There are still a lot of unknowns, but I know we are in 6A and we are waiting to hear what’s next,” Holcomb said. “But I mean, I told our coaches and our kids — they’re competitors and we’re just happy and excited for whatever opportunity lies ahead.”


Holcomb went on to add the move to 6A more than likely means the end of matchups with intra-city rivals Century and John Marshall — the three Rochester public high schools have played for “The Addington Jug” since 2007. Mayo will be playing teams strictly from the Twin Cities metro area.

Of course, Section 1, Class 5A will look much different too. In addition to Mayo jumping up, Austin will go down to Class 4A, which will no longer have Stewartville and Albert Lea. Both will be dropping to Class 3A. Stewartville head coach Garrett Mueller confirmed the news when reached via text message. But the regular-season districts are still to be decided.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Holcomb said. “Obviously the next question is what are these districts going to look like? Even the Big Southeast, what will that look like? Are Austin, Byron, Stewartville going to be in it? Who are they bringing in? Because with us and Austin out, that means there are four teams there.”

There are plenty of questions that still need to be answered.

Holcomb is hoping to get more clarification in the next month as he will try to juggle that on top of his 23rd season as Mayo's boys track and field head coach. Even though the news comes as a bit of a surprise, the Spartans have built up a program that has become one of the strongest in Class 5A with back-to-back state tournament appearances. They will be ready for this challenge.

“We're not complaining, we're not scared. Nothing like that,” Holcomb said. “It's just surprising news. We're just rolling with it as we hear it, but we're going to be ready for whatever.”

Alex VandenHouten has been a sports reporter at the Post Bulletin since Sept. 2021. He loves to go hiking, biking, snowshoeing and just simply being outdoors with his wife Olivia. Readers can reach Alex at
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