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St. Louis County wins court round on mask mandate

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St. Louis County wins court round on mask mandate

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo–A St. Louis County judge has handed County Executive Sam Page a victory in the continuing legal battle with Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt over the county’s latest mask mandate.

Thursday afternoon, Judge Ellen Ribaudo’s ruling dissolved an earlier preliminary injunction issued against a previous mask mandate which was ultimately rejected by the St. Louis County Council over the summer. Under a new mandate that took effect in late September, masks are required to be worn by anyone five years or older indoors and on public transportation, regardless of vaccination status.

Schmitt’s office argued that the latest mandate flew in the face of the temporary injunction granted over the earlier one. While a hearing to make the temporary injunction permanent has now been canceled, a hearing scheduled for Monday morning to force St. Louis County to produce background and data to support the need for the latest mask mandate is still planned.

“Since the law barring the second mask mandate is clear, the Court has asked us to file an amended petition commensurate with what we know the law is, that the County’s second mask mandate is illegal since they’re unable to issue a second mask mandate for 180 days, and we will prevail,” Chris Nuelle, a spokesman for Schmitt said in a statement to FOX2 Thursday night. “This is purely a power grab by the County Executive, and we will continue our fight for the people of St. Louis County.”

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Gophers to transfer out hits 10 with lineman Saia Mapakaitolo

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Gophers to transfer out hits 10 with lineman Saia Mapakaitolo

Gophers true freshman offensive lineman Saia Mapakaitolo has entered the NCAA transfer portal, a source confirmed to the Pioneer Press on Monday.

Mapakaitolo appeared to be well under his listed 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds and he did not appear in a game in the 2021 season. The former Southern Cal commit from a Mesa, Ariz., joined the U’s class late in the cycle last year.

Minnesota has had a total of 10 players exit the program since October; one, defensive end MJ Anderson, announced Sunday he will go to Iowa State.

The full list also includes: running back Cam Wiley, guard Curtis Dunlap, defensive tackle Rashad Cheney, linebacker James “DJ” Gordon, tight end Austin Henderson and receiver Dylan Hillard-McGill and quarterbacks Zack Annexstad and Jacob Clark.

Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck said when current players first hit the portal in October that he anticipated more players would enter the portal in its second year.

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Timberwolves starting to get healthy

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Timberwolves starting to get healthy

The Timberwolves weren’t at full strength Monday against Atlanta, but they do finally seem to be trending in that direction.

Minnesota got Jaden McDaniels and Karl-Anthony Towns back in the lineup, while Patrick Beverley is quickly working toward his return.

McDaniels had a serious bout with the flu, in which Timberwolves coach Chris Finch joked the forward “lost the whole 10 pounds (he gained) all summer, which he could ill afford to do.” The illness knocked McDaniels out to the point where he was in bed for several days and unable to join the team on the road.

Saturday was the first day the forward finally felt “normal” and he was able to practice Sunday. Finch said McDaniels looked “pretty good” in the practice after missing two games.

Beverley was originally expected to miss at least two weeks with his groin injury, and then be re-evaluated at that point. That would’ve meant the Wolves looked at him at the end of this week, but he was questionable for Monday’s contest before he was eventually ruled out prior to tip-off.

Finch said the veteran guard played 5-on-5 hoops with the team’s low-minutes guys and a few coaches earlier in the day Monday.

“He had a really good run,” Finch said. “He’s inching closer and closer.”

A return to action Wednesday against Utah looks possible.

D’Angelo Russell missed Monday’s game with an ankle injury. That meant the Wolves were down three point guard options in Russell, Beverley and Jaylen Nowell. That pushed rookie guard Leandro Bolmaro into the starting unit.

Finch said Bolmaro — who wasn’t in the rotation as recently as two weeks ago until Beverley went down — was “really excited” about the opportunity. Finch said the Wolves needed Bolmaro’s size and defensive acumen to guard Trae Young.

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Gophers welcome back Kirk Ciarrocca as offensive coordinator

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Gophers welcome back Kirk Ciarrocca as offensive coordinator

The Gophers football program has officially brought back Kirk Ciarrocca as offensive coordinator, the school said Monday.

Ciarrocca will return as OC and quarterbacks coach, a role he had under head coach P.J. Fleck at Minnesota from 2017-19. Ciarrocca left Minnesota after the 2019 season to become offensive coordinator at Penn State in 2020 and offensive analyst at West Virginia in 2021.

“Kirk is one of the best offensive coordinators in the game, but he is also a tremendous person,” Fleck said in a statement. “We have a long professional history of working together, and I look forward to reuniting with him.”

The Gophers play West Virginia in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Phoenix on Dec. 28, and while Ciarrocca restarted at Minnesota on Monday, he will not coach in the bowl game after conversations with Fleck and Mountaineers coach Neal Brown.

“We both agreed to not have Kirk coach in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl with his knowledge of both teams’ personnel,” Fleck continued. “When we made the decision to hire Kirk, we did not yet know our bowl opponent. Coach Brown and I both thought this would be best to avoid any awkwardness for both sets of student-athletes. It’s the right thing to do.”

Matt Simon, the U’s wide receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator, will call offensive plays during the bowl game. He previously called plays in the Outback Bowl win over Auburn on New Year’s Day 2020.

Ciarrocca replaces Mike Sanford Jr., who was let go last week after the U’s performances didn’t come close to matching the heights of Ciarrocca’s best season in 2019. Sanford was at the end of a two-year contract paying him $663,000 per year.

Ciarrocca left Minnesota when he was set for a raise to $1 million per year in 2020; terms of his new deal were not shared, and the Gophers added his hire is pending Board of Regent approval.

Brown has known Ciarrocca for 20 years and had a lot of praise for him during a virtual bowl game news conference on Sunday.

“I think if you are talking about a system, the best thing that I can use is he is efficient,” Brown said. “If you look throughout his career, he’s been extremely efficient. I think he’s been able to find unique ways to run the football at every stop, regardless of what his personnel is. … He’s efficient, so when you are talking about an offensive coach. I think that is what we are all hunting and he’s done it better than most.”

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