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2018 Preview: New Richmond runners back for more

Sophie Ballard and Aidan Johnson are shown sprinting to the finish line to complete the annual New Richmond Cross Country Alumni Meet on Aug. 16. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

The freshman class carried the New Richmond girls to the 2017 Middle Border Conference team cross country championship.

The Tigers are hoping those runners can be equally superb in another talent-laden field of teams in the MBC.

The Tiger boys also hold hopes of challenging for an MBC title. The Tigers graduated MBC individual champion Dylan Wachter and will have to find a way to top an Osceola team that won the conference meet, then went on to capture the WIAA Division 2 sectional title.

New Richmond's girls are working from an incredible position of strength. All seven girls who were part of the conference championship team were freshmen or sophomores last year. They showed they're ready to be just as fearsome this season. At the season opening Husky Invitational on Saturday, the Tiger girls placed third among 11 top teams, six of them from the Big Rivers Conference.

Tiger coach Beth Kelly said sophomores Kayla Harris, Willa Rogers and Barb Kling worked incredibly hard over the summer to maintain their level of excellence. That showed Saturday, when they were all among the top 17 finishers. Rogers was the Tigers' top finisher, taking fifth place in 20:22. Harris was three seconds behind Rogers to place eighth. Kling took 17th in 20:53.

Kelly said those three didn't miss a day of workouts this summer, saying senior Amanda Johnson was just as dedicated in her work.

While repeating as MBC champion is one goal, Kelly said she's hoping the goals reach beyond the conference season. The Tiger girls placed fifth at the Division 1 sectional meet last year and Harris was able to qualify for state by placing eighth in the race. Rogers placed 18th at the sectional and Kling was 33rd. Kelly said the postseason goals will depend upon the team continuing to progress and staying healthy.

There's excellent depth in the girls team with juniors Colette Herrold and Erika Emerson and sophomores Sophie Ballard and Maggie Bau returning.

The Tiger boys return four runners who competed at the conference meet. They include seniors Max Fore and Caleb Anton, junior Chase Chiarle and sophomore Tyler Harris. Chiarle is currently dealing with an injury, but Fore, Anton and Harris lead a group of runners who have worked considerably over the summer.

New Richmond's boys finished seventh among the 12 teams competing in their half of the Husky Invitational. Harris had the team's top performance, placing 11th in 17:30. He finished one second ahead of Osceola's top runner. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Osceola then had a pack of five runners in a 19-second span. Osceola placed second in the boys meet, trailing only Eau Claire Memorial.

The Tigers will see many conference opponents this Thursday when they run at the St. Croix Central Invitational.

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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