Best of

the Twin Cities

Best College Athlete

Emily Palkert, Concordia University

The U of M's big sports programs have been a challenge for local fans. But followers of the college game don't need to look far to find a winning team. Across the river at Concordia University in St. Paul, the women's volleyball program has proven to be the antidote to our general sporting woes. The team claimed its fourth consecutive NCAA D-II title this season, and 5-foot-11 senior mid-hitter Emily Palkert was again the dominant force on a dominating team. After the Golden Bears' 75-match win streak was snapped in just the second match of the season and a suspect 10-4 start ensued, Concordia won its last 22 matches. At the NCAA Championships in Louisville, Kentucky, the team steamrolled the competition in three straight-set matches en route to their repeat. For the season, Palkert ranked in the top 32 in the nation for kills per set (3.79), points per set (4.35), and hitting percentage (.357). For her storied Concordia career, the Excelsior native leaves the program as a four-time AVCA All-American, a Daktronics first-team All-American in her final two seasons, and the Golden Bears' all-time leader in both kills and points.

Best Beach Hidden Beach

Best Bike Trail Grands Rounds, along the Mississippi River

Best Bowling Alley Bryant-Lake Bowl

Best Boxer Jason Litzau

Best Coach Ron Gardenhire

Best Day Trip Drive around Lake Pepin

Best Golfer Troy Merritt

Best Hike Interstate State Park

Best Ice Skating Lake of the Isles

Best Lynx Player Rebekkah Brunson

Best Outdoors Store Gear West

Best Picnic Spot Boom Island Park

Best Place to Run Mississippi River Road

Best Place to Shoot Pool Grumpy's Bar

Best Place to Walk a Dog Minnehaha Off-Leash Dog Park

Best Public Golf Course Chaska Town Course

Best Sledding Kenwood Park

Best Swarm Player Ryan Benesch

Best Timberwolves Player Kevin Love

Best Trail Running Hyland Lake Park Reserve

Best Twins Player Joe Mauer

Best Urban Hike Pike Island, Fort Snelling State Park

Best Vikings Player Adrian Peterson

Best Weekend Getaway North Shore

Best Wild Player Martin Havlat

Best Winter Escape Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como

Best Winter Resort Lutsen Lodge

Best Winter Sport You've Never Tried Skijoring