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Adam Watts: Catching my breath after the winter sports season

The conclusion of the Minnesota high school boys basketball tournament this past Saturday marked the official end of the high school winter sports season. After a month-and a-half of winter sports postseason madness, beginning with gymnastics and...

The conclusion of the Minnesota high school boys basketball tournament this past Saturday marked the official end of the high school winter sports season. After a month-and a-half of winter sports postseason madness, beginning with gymnastics and wrestling section tournaments on Feb. 18 and finally finishing last weekend, it is all over.

Seemingly out of nowhere we are sprinting headlong into spring. Worthington opens its high school baseball season tonight with a game against Heron Lake-Okabena, track and field teams are already competing, and the first boys tennis matches are coming up early next week.

I’m not quite ready for spring yet. I haven’t even had time to really process everything that transpired over the past six weeks, and before that, throughout the course of the winter sports season. Before I commit to diving into the new season and the next set of sports, I need to take a minute here to catch my breath and reflect on the winter.

It feels like way more than six weeks ago that Nic Putnam won the final match of Worthington’s Class 3AA wrestling team tournament dual with Wabasso/Red Rock Central to send it to the state tournament and avenge its loss to the Bobcats in the regionals a year prior, while on the same day, the Trojans gymnastics team won the Section 3A meet by a fraction of a point over Jackson County Central, catapulting it to a state meet berth.

Really, that day feels like a distant memory -- the first of many consecutive long and tiresome -- but exciting and fulfilling -- weekends covering section and state tournament action. There were many instances of joy for area athletes, but unfortunately, more teams end seasons with losses than with wins, something the basketball tournament found something of a solution to this year.

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The implementation of a consolation bracket in boys and girls basketball was a roaring success, if you ask me. After the Southwest Christian girls basketball team fell to top-seeded, and eventual second-place finishers Mountain Iron-Buhl, it went on to win two games in the consolation bracket and claim the fifth-place trophy.

The Eagles finished their season with big smiles on their faces, rather than seeing their season end after a loss to the No. 1 seed in the first round for the second straight year.

First-round matchups with No. 1 seeds became something of a trend for area teams this winter across all sports, as Worthington wrestling, SWC girls basketball and Luverne boys hockey all drew the short straw. Seems a bit fishy to me.

But despite the long odds, the Luverne boys hockey team almost toppled top-seeded Hermantown in the first round, taking the hockey power to overtime. I didn’t have the privilege of covering that game, but I can only imagine what the Xcel Energy Center was like when Tyler Reisdorfer tied the game for the Cardinals with 2:08 to go in regulation.

I’m sure it was every bit as electric as it was in the same arena when Pipestone Area teammates, mat partners, and close friends Michael Suda and Hunter Burnett each won their second consecutive state wrestling titles, as the green-clad Arrows supporters jumped out of their seats.

Speaking to each of them in the bowels of “The X” mere minutes after victories is a memory I’m sure will stick with me. As will the tone of pride and, dare I say, awe in the voice of coach Brian Bos after witnessing his wrestlers’ feats. It was a far cry from two days prior when I spoke with him after his Arrows were eliminated from the team tournament after two losses by a single point each.

I can’t thank Bos, Worthington coach Mark Prunty, and the rest of the area wrestling coaches enough for the help they provided during the state wrestling tournament. That was an absolute whale to cover, and I never could have done it without them. They went to long lengths to help me track down their wrestlers for post-match interviews in the sea of competitors -- something akin to finding a needle in a haystack.

Certainly not only the wrestling coaches deserve my thanks, I will forever be in debt to helpful coaches in all sports. My job simply wouldn’t be possible without their cooperation.

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All in all, the winter season was as fun to cover as it was exhausting. And you know what, I think I’m ready for spring now. So, with all of the winter season reminiscing behind me, I only have two more words to say … play ball!

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The Worthington Trojans earned their highest ever place at a Minnesota Class A True Team meet with a score of 174.525. Big Lake won the meet with a score of 176.2.
Friday night high school sports roundup: