The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports Columns

April 10, 2014

Courrier: Masters is first sign that winter has been conquered

Don’t know if anybody noticed but it’s been a tough winter, with brutal cold and piles of snow that are now just disappearing.

If not for an exciting season of local basketball and hockey, it would have an unbearable four months.

Minnesota State had another great men’s basketball season, setting records with 30 victories, while the women had a frustrating end to what could have been a promising postseason run.

In high schools, local fans may never again have the opportunity to watch such a talented player as Carlie Wagner, who scored nearly 4,000 points and led New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva to consecutive state championships.

Mankato Loyola continued its progress toward playing for a girls basketball state championship. One more basket is all the Crusaders needed to reach the final game, and with several key players returning, a state championship is a realistic goal.

The Minnesota State men’s hockey kept its fans indoors until the last two weeks, when one of the most successful seasons in program history ended in Massachusetts.

But now that the big snowpile in front of the house, which has melted slowly, is all that remains from the winter. The grass is greening up and the local ball fields are nearly ready for the season.

It’s finally spring, and that means The Masters.

Golf’s most dramatic weekend began Thursday at Augusta, Ga., with 97 golfers trying to win a green jacket. There are some great story lines, even though Tiger Woods is laid up and isn’t participating for the first time in his professional career.

Phil Mickelson is trying to win his fourth Masters’ title, which would tie with Arnold Palmer and Woods.

Adam Scott is trying to win back-to-back championships, something accomplished only by Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Woods.

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