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Tiger CC program shows its strength in home meet

Mary Balow led the Tiger girls to the team championship in the 2009 NRI.

Just how well the New Richmond cross country program is flourishing was shown in last Thursday's New Richmond Invitational.

New Richmond's girls were varsity champions of the meet. New Richmond won both halves of the junior varsity meet. And the Tiger varsity boys, expected to be in a rebuilding mode this season, took second place and were nine points behind the meet champions.

With this being the only varsity meet in New Richmond this season, it was the one chance for the Tiger seniors to shine. They certainly answered that call.

Senior Mary Balow ran the best race of her career to lead the Tiger girls to the team championship. Balow started out well back in the pack, but kept moving up to finish ninth.

"Mary had an outstanding race," said Tiger coach Beth Kelly. "For a senior to be the first runner in her last home meet was pretty special."

The depth in the Tiger lineup showed when the girls took placed 13 through 17. That pack of five straight finishers locked up the team victory. Outside of Balow, all the girls in the varsity lineup for the Tigers were freshmen and sophomores, showing how bright the future is for the program.

Coach Kelly said that two of the best efforts for the girls came from the JV team. She said Amanda Anez and Emily Osterbauer made huge improvements in running personal best times for the JV team. The JV girls took eight of the top nine places in their race to easily win the title.

Most people around the conference weren't expecting anyone to give Osceola a threat in the boys Middle Border Conference competition this season. The Tiger boys may have changed everyone's thoughts on that subject with their performance on Thursday. Osceola took second place in the meet with 59 points, behind St. Croix Central of the Dunn-St. Croix Conference. The Tigers were finished just nine points behind Osceola.

Senior Nick Stenske has inherited the role as the leader of the Tiger boys team. He was the Tigers top finisher, placing eighth on Thursday.

Junior Jason Staples and senior Zeb Johnson made big advancements as the Tigers' second and third runners.

"Staples has really improved and Zeb had a great race, he had his lifetime best (time) on our course," Kelly said.

Those are the three runners on the boys team with more than a year of varsity experience. The reinforcements are quickly moving up.

Junior Tyler Wilson placed 19th, freshman Alex Charbonneau was 21st, sophomore Walter DeKock was 22nd and junior Dylan Novitzke was 24th, with all seven Tiger runners finishing in front of Osceola's fifth runner.

The Tigers also had four of the top five JV runners, with Simon Vang winning the meet. Casey Schuh, Charlie Kleiner and Grant Shores also placed in the top five in the JV race for the Tigers.

Coach Kelly said one of the success stories of the JV race was sophomore Jacque Warner. His time was seven minutes better than the time he ran as a freshman in this race.

The Tigers will see many of these teams again this Saturday, when they run in the Osceola Invitational. Races begin at 10 a.m.

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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