The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

January 3, 2013

Courrier column: 2012 was a good sports year, expect more in 2013

It’s another new year, and it’s nice to reflect on the good things that happened in 2012.

There was the Minnesota State football season. It was easy to predict that they’d be good, probably contend for the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference championship and a berth in the national tournament, but nobody outside of the program could have foreseen a couple of regional victories and a home game in the national semifinals.

The Mavericks’ baseball and women’s soccer teams each made extended runs into the national tournament, with the baseball squad finishing third and the women’s soccer team reaching the national quarterfinals.

The Minnesota State men’s basketball team, coming off a final-four appearance, had its most disappointing season under coach Matt Margenthaler, but the struggles had a way of making you appreciate how good that program has been over the last decade.

It was fun to watch a group of seniors on the Mankato East boys basketball team grow together over the year and find enough magic to get back to the state tournament.

New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva’s Carlie Wagner opened a lot of eyes at the girls basketball state tournament with single-game and tournament scoring records.

We got to watch one of our own, quarterback Philip Nelson, use his successful career at Mankato West to earn a scholarship at the University of Minnesota, and even though he should have remained on his redshirt, it’s always nicer to watch games when you know some of the characters personally.

The Free Press developed a sports magazine, Final Buzzer, that seems like a nice outlet for highlights and memories of each high-school season.

Will 2013 be as much fun?

It certainly seems like the football team, whomever its coach may be, will be a factor in the conference and region. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Minnesota State, with many of its top players returning, ranked in the top 5 of national polls in the preseason.

The Mavericks men’s and women’s basketball teams appear to be relevant in the conference and region, and there will be many exciting games over the next two months for both teams at Bresnan Arena.

While it’s going to be a trying season for the Cougars’ boys basketball team, it looks like the East girls are building on recent success and could finally get to a state tournament.

And hopefully, our sports magazine will prosper, receiving enough readership and sponsor support to expand our offerings.

Every year, there’s plenty to appreciate in the local sports world. I expect no less in 2013.

Chad Courrier is a Free Press staff writer. To contact him, call 507-344-6353 or email at ccourrier@mankatofreepress.com, Follow his Twitter feed @ChadCourrier.

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