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AUSTIN EDITION New Riverland complex praised

Fans of Class A baseball packed into the Riverland College complex for the final games of the West Subsection playoffs on Memorial Day and gave rave reviews to Austin's new fields.

Although there weren't enough seats to accommodate the throng watching Glenville-Emmons and Goodhue battle it out for the subsection title, nobody seemed to mind sitting on the grass. Many folks got out their blankets and sprawled out to enjoy a lazy day of watching baseball in the bright sunshine.

Little babies, cute puppies, and rambunctious youngsters filled the crowd of fun-loving baseball fanatics at Monday's game. The weather was so nice and the antics of the kiddies so fun to watch, that I barely noticed the traffic whizzing by on the freeway.

Some of the coaches may have preferred to play across town at the legendary Marcusen Park, but they're just spoiled. The new set of fields were in a lot better shape for this tournament than anybody expected and the ground's crew should be lauded for their efforts.

Northwest baseball

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Even all the positive comments from the folks in attendance won't change my feelings about Marcusen Park as compared with these new fields, but things are coming along in the northwest. I attended my first night game at Riverland last week and after a few tries, the lights even came on.

All kidding aside, the new venue in the northwest proved to be a capable host for the subsection tournament. I'll look forward to coming back again next season when the scoreboards have been installed and I don't have fans checking my scorebook every inning.

Since my beloved ballpark along the banks of the Cedar River was spared, I harbor no animosity toward the new complex. They've come a long way since the idea of building these new parks was hatched a few years back and the successful run of the subsection baseball tournament has cemented its foundation as a nice place to host multi-game events.

Ray guides Stanford

In his first season as men's golf coach at Stanford University, Austin native Conrad Ray has guided his team to the NCAA National Tournament which starts on Wednesday in Maryland.

Ray was a standout golfer and hockey player for the Austin Packers during the early 1990s, then went on to play college golf with Tiger Woods at Stanford. Ray's team recently finished eighth at the NCAA West Regional and was one of 30 teams to qualify for nationals.

When he isn't coaching golf, Ray still likes to shoot a few rounds. He has also made it through the first round of qualifying for the U.S. Open. Ray has played professionally for years and birdied his first playoff hole of the recent qualifying tournament. Ironically, the birdie by Ray came against his top recruit to Stanford next season.

L/P section track

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Chris Bergstrom heads a group of five Lyle/Austin Pacelli runners who qualified for today's Class A, Section One meet at Byron. Bergstrom advanced in the 100 meters and the 4 x 100 relay after high finishes last Thursday in the sub-section meet at Dodge Center.

The speed shown by Bergstrom on the track is an amazing feat considering just two years ago he was sidelined by a major knee injury. After leading the Southern Confederacy Conference in rushing his sophomore season, Bergstrom suffered the knee injury as a junior. He returned for a successful senior campaign on the gridiron, gaining nearly 1,000 yards, and now is showing his prowess on the track.

Lyle/Pacelli had four other runners advance to today's section meet. Pat Sheehan in the long jump, triple jump and the 4 x100. Josh Gunderson in the 800 and 1,600 meters. Kellen Blaser and Tim Sheedy also advanced as members of the relay team.

Scott Kolb is a Post-Bulletin sports writer. He writes a weekly Tuesday column and can be reached at skolb@postbulletin.com

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