Rocky Hulne: Let the games begin

Christmas Day and New Year’s Day may have already taken place, but there is a feeling of joy and excitement lingering this week as high school sports are set to resume in the state of Minnesota.

Just like fall, schedules and opponents can change on a daily basis due to COVID-19, but right now it looks like the Austin boys swimming team, Austin boys hockey team and Austin girls basketball team will be competing at home Thursday night.

The Packer girls basketball team will be hosting Northfield, which is usually one of the contenders for the Big Nine title. Austin has a lot of talent as a portion of the roster that boosted the Packers to a state tournament run two years ago is still on board. Elyse Hebrink, who started playing varsity as a middle schooler, is now a senior, and she’ll carry a big leadership role for a team that had very limited offseason workouts or get-togethers.

The swimmers are taking on Winona, which means senior Logan Kelly will get his toughest matchups of the year. The Winhawks boast a lineup of fast swimmers that will push Kelly to the brink, especially since this will be one of Austin’s four in-person duals this winter.

The Packer boys hockey team will be hosting Owatonna and Austin will be looking to find its footing after a rough season last year.

It’ll be a busy start to the season for all area teams as they just started practicing last week, which means all athletes will have to pace themselves and avoid early injuries or setbacks.

I’m sure it will be a wild ride, but I’m excited to get back on the sidelines.