The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

February 14, 2013

Enjoy the moment while it lasts

Just think about all the great things that have happened in the world of local sports in the last few months.

The Minnesota State football team made an exciting run in the national playoffs, winning the first 13 games before that intense loss to Valdosta State in the national semifinals.

It was easily the best season for fans of the program, despite the off-field issues with the head coach, and it looks like the future holds more of the same.

Mankato West made another spirited run to the state football playoffs, winning exciting games with New Prague and Chanhassen in the section playoffs before finishing with the depressing loss to a very good Owatonna team in the state quarterfinals.

Again, there is a lot of talent coming back for the Scarlets, meaning the fun for that program should continue.

We have an Olympic-caliber swimmer here in town, and some day, Danielle Nack could have us glued to our TV sets, hoping she wins one of those big necklaces.

This winter, there are several local teams that could make special memories in the next month.

The Mankato Loyola girls, who last year finally got a home playoff game after several seasons of struggling, are 21-2 and one of the favorites to win Section 2A.

The Mankato East girls are 20-3, about the season everyone expected, and one of the favorites in Section 2AAA. It remains to be seen if the ankle injury that point guard Minnie Frederick suffered on Tuesday will have any effect on the Cougars, who moved up to No. 3 in the state and No. 1 in the section by QRF rating after Tuesday’s victory.

At Minnesota State, the wrestling team is a top-10 program in Division II, and the men’s hockey team is becoming relevant again.

The men’s basketball team has a chance to claim “top-dog” status in this region by winning a couple games this weekend, and the women’s team has a very good chance to win 20 games this winter, something the program has done only twice since 1986.

The Bethany Lutheran men’s basketball team is in position to qualify for its first national tournament in Division III. Despite trailing first-place Northwestern by one game going into the final weekend of the regular season, no one would be surprised if the Vikings win the conference tournament to get that automatic berth.

There’s always something fun to watch in this area, though it seems like since September, the local sports menu has been particularly appealing. Football, basketball, hockey, wrestling ... there’s definitely something for everyone.

More people should be taking advantage of those opportunities.

Chad Courrier is a Free Press staff writer. To contact him, call 507-344-6353, e-mail at ccourrier@mankatofreepress.com, check out his local sports blog at www.mankatofreepress.com or follow his Twitter feed @ChadCourrier.

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