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Tiger girls repeat as MBC cross country champs

Having one of their senior leaders sidelined couldn't hold back the New Richmond girls cross country team.

The Tiger girls repeated as Middle Border Conference champions, finishing 12 points ahead of Ellsworth for the 2008 girls title.

New Richmond's boys also came through with one of their finest performances of the season to take second place in last Thursday's boys conference meet.

The Tiger girls were running without senior Hannah Utzman. Utzman and classmate McKenzie Kelly have been the leaders of Tigers since their freshman year. So it was fitting that four freshmen stepped up with outstanding efforts to make sure the Tigers returned to the top of the conference.

Kelly has been the glue to the Tigers this season. While Utzman has battled injury and illness, Kelly remained a steady role model for the younger team members. Kelly also ran an exemplary race, finishing third in the MBC meet.

Kelly was followed by a trio of freshmen. Her younger sister, Morgan, finished 11th overall. Katelyn Walker took 13th and Bailey Matthys made a big advancement to place 15th.

The fifth finisher for the Tigers was senior Maria Soderquist, who placed 17th overall. Soderquist has had more than her share of injuries in her career, but she came through with a shining moment in this race. She ran a career-best time of 16:46 to help lock up the conference championship in her senior season.

The success didn't stop there. Freshman Kat Keller ran 19th and sophomore Anna Zietlow was 20th. The depth on the Tigers spilled over to the Junior Varsity race. Tiger junior Mary Balow was the JV champion and the Tigers had six of the top eight finishers in the JV meet.

Tiger coach Beth Kelly said she isn't surprised at all that the freshmen became such a key part of the team this season.

"They were all dedicated and worked hard this summer. They were some of the mot consistent workers at summer training and Tiger Strength," Coach Kelly said.

Team success has been a constant focus for the Tigers. Coach Kelly said the willingness of the runners to do the workouts she asked in practices and in races helped the team reach this level of success.

"It's really been team effort all year long, with unselfish hard work," Kelly said.

Tiger boys

The second place finish by the Tiger boys may have been one of the surprises of the meet. With injuries to Jake Wickham, Jason Staples and Zeb Johnson and other team issues, the Tigers were a large question mark heading into the meet.

The questions were answered with positive performances. Wickham and Nick Stenske were both first team all-MBC runners, placing third and fifth overall.

Andy Steffen, Dylan Novitzke and Johnson ran some of the best races of their careers to fill the three through five spots in the varsity. Staples, trying to run on a sprained ankle, was the team's sixth runner.

"I was really impressed with the boys, they did what they could," Coach Kelly said.

Osceola won the boys meet with 59 points. The Tigers were able to squeak past Amery and Ellsworth to claim second place.

WIAA sectional

This Friday the Tigers will try to repeat their success of 2007, when both New Richmond teams qualified for the WIAA State Cross Country Championships.

The Tiger girls go into Friday's Unity Division 2 Sectional Meet with a strong chance of returning to the state meet. Coach Kelly said she expected Northwestern and Hayward, the top two teams from the Heart O'North Conference, to provide tough challenges for the Tigers.

In the boys race, the Tigers will need to pull an upset to qualify as a team. Osceola, St. Croix Central and Hayward bring in conference championship teams that provide staunch opposition for the Tigers.

The top two teams from each sectional and the top five individuals who aren't members of those qualifying teams will advance to the state meet, which will be run in Wisconsin Rapids on Saturday, Nov. 1.

2008 Middle Border Conference Cross Country Invitational on Oct. 16

Girls Varsity Team Scores: New Richmond 59, Ellsworth 71, Amery 83, Osceola 100, Somerset 104, Baldwin-Woodville 129, Durand 189, Prescott 198

New Richmond finishes

3. McKenzie Kelly 15:49; 11. Morgan Kelly 16:31; 13. Katelyn Walker 16:34; 15. Bailey Matthys 16:43; 17. Maria Soderquist 16:46; 19. Kat Keller 16:56; 20. Anna Zietlow 16:56

New Richmond JV finishes

1. Mary Balow 17:21; 2. Maggie Evans 17:31; 3 Anna Buresh 17:51; 5. Sonia Utzman 18:07; 6. Laura Troftgruben 18:16; 8. Ariel Berres-Green 18:26; 20. Ellen Junko 20:02; 26. Graycee Lindell 20:40; 27. Emily Osterbauer 20:49; 28. Sarah L'Allier 20:56; 31. Nicolette Mason 21:10; 32. Ashlie Orr 21:10; 36. Miranda Stroschein 22:11

Somerset finishes

7. Monica Emerson 16:18; 10. Tia Belter 16:29; 22. Johanna Smith 17:05; 29. Sara Henry 17:47; 36. Megan Mitchell 18:20; 37. Emily Parent 18:24; 44. Kaylee Roettger 19:16

Somerset JV finishes

9. Stephanie Kelsey 18:31; 11. Taylor Thell 19:16; 12. Ibby Ottman 19:18; 14. Lauren DeGeer 19:37; 15. Nicole Donohoe 19:37; 17. Rylie Dierich 19:43; 23. Jenna Green 20:13; 24. Torie Land 20:19; 30. Krissy McIntyre 20:59; 33. Casey Land 21:27; 34. Anne Plourde 21:28

Boys Team Scores: Osceola 59, New Richmond 82, Amery 87, Ellsworth 90, Durand 115, Prescott 117, Somerset 165, Baldwin-Woodville 205

New Richmond finishes

3. Jake Wickham 17:24; 5. Nick Stenske 17:41; 15. Andy Steffen 18:39; 28. Dylan Novitzke 19:22; 31. Zeb Johnson 19:40; 33. Jason Staples 19:44; 46. Colton Simpson 20:30

New Richmond JV finishes

1. Sam Skatrud 19:11; 3. Ben Matthys 20:25; 4. Charlie Kleiner 20:29; 10. Leonard Hedlund 21:05; 15. Matt Lindberg 21:42; 18. Walter DeKock 21:53; 19. Josh Green 21:56; 22. Luke Mason 22:14; 29. Patrick Holland 23:53; 30. Alex Anderson 23:58; 35. Jocque Warner 29:55

Somerset finishes

11. Michael Meyer 18:27; 14. Caleb Belter 18:30; 39. Dakota Belter 20:02; 48. Gavin Germain 20:59; 53. T.J. Pauley 21:58; 55. Tye Lyons 22:32; 56. Tyler Lindquist 24:35

Somerset JV finishes

11. Steven Bracht 21:08; 27. Trevor Mondor 23:25

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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