Column: Being an Albert Lea Tiger is great

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Jeff Budlong, Sports Editor

As I was putting together Monday’s sports page one overriding thought came to my mind &045;&160;what a great week it was to be a Tiger.

The Albert Lea winter sports season is starting to really heat up and it has been fun watching the teams improve and pick up one big win after another.

The biggest headline grabber so far has to be the top-ranked wrestling team which took care of Apple Valley for the second time this season showing just how strong the team truly is.

The win gave the Tigers another team title at a major weekend tournament to go along with other impressive wins at the Waseca Invite and Farmington as well as strong finishes at the Christmas Tournament and The Clash IV.

Head coach Larry Goodnature has had this team ready to go since their opening triangular in December and the team has only gotten better.

Eleven ranked individuals and a firm grasp on the top team spot should make the last few weeks leading up to sectionals and state very exciting for all the Tiger faithful.

While the wrestling team has been blowing away much of its competition throughout the season the Albert Lea girls’ basketball team has been keeping its fans in suspense until the final second.

The Tigers showed their toughness gutting out two Big Nine Conference victories last week over Rochester Century and Austin.

The Century game was decided when Niki Hendrickson converted on a bucket in the post just before the horn sounded while her sister, Hali, snatched up an inbound pass deflected by Liz Thompson to win the game against Austin at the free throw line with just one second remaining.

Relying on last-second buckets won’t get the job done every time for the Tigers, but wins like that continue to show the special kind of season the team is having.

Are bigger things in bigger games on the horizon for this group? We’ll have to wait and see but for now just enjoy the ride.

The Albert Lea boys’ basketball team has been playing some of its best ball of the season over the last couple of weeks.

The team’s success has come thanks to impressive showings on the defensive end.

The team’s latest victory came Friday in a blowout over Austin with a big test coming up this Friday at Mankato East.

The boys’ hockey team put on a dominating performance against Austin handing their rivals an 8-1 loss.

Paced by Adam Royce’s hat trick the Tigers played one of its most complete games of the season.

Watching a sizable Tiger crowd react to the action on the ice was almost as fun as watching one celebration after another as Albert Lea peppered the Packer goalie with shots and goals.

The girls’ team came up just short against Austin but was able to respond with a convincing 8-0 rout of Mankato East to close out the week.

The Tiger swim team and dance team also scored victories in the last week to round out an impressive showing by area athletes.

Being a parent or fan can be tough during the season as they endure the same kinds of highs and lows that those playing feel, but it is weeks like this that help us all remember why we like to follow the games.