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New Richmond girls, Dylan Wachter win MBC XC titles; run at sectionals Saturday

The New Richmond girls who earned the 2016 Middle Border Conference championship are (l-r) Jennah Wilson, Amanda Johnson, Erika Emerson, Bailey Hubmer, Lauren Johnson, Lexi Brown and Mallory Kelly.

After taking a year away, the New Richmond cross country girls brought the Middle Border Conference championship back home with them.

The Tiger girls ran a flawless race in winning the 2016 Middle Border Conference championship at Osceola last Thursday. With four of the top seven girls, the Tigers were able to run away with the championship. Their score of 31 was well ahead of second place Ellsworth, which finished with 76 points.

New Richmond’s boys weren’t as successful. They also had hopes of winning a conference title, but couldn’t bring their pack in early enough to offset a strong day by Osceola. The Chieftains won the meet with 59 points, with New Richmond in second place with 81 points. The highlight for the Tiger boys was junior Dylan Wachter, who earned the 2016 boys individual championship.

Leading the New Richmond girls were seniors Mallory Kelly and Lexi Brown, just as they’ve done all season. They ran in a pack with freshman Lauren Johnson through much of the race. Kelly looked like she might be faltering early in the race. But then she found her energy and pulled away to take second place in the meet in 21:09. Her move in the second half the race caught the attention of St. Croix Central coach Bill Emery.

“I knew she was charging,” Emery said.

Brown and Johnson continued on their strong and steady pace to take fifth and sixth place in the race.

“Mallory, Lexi and Lauren ran a textbook great race,” said New Richmond coach Beth Kelly. “I respect their mental toughness.”

Coach Kelly said she set the team’s expectations based off what the team did at its home invitational. The top three Tigers all answered those expectations. It was sophomore Amanda Johnson who shattered her expectations. Coach Kelly said she had Johnson penciled in to finish around the 14-15 area. Instead, she earned the final first team all-conference spot by moving up to seventh place.

“She was a game changer,” Coach Kelly said.

Freshman Erika Emerson finished in 11th place to earn second team all-conference honors as the Tigers’ fifth runner. Bailey Hubmer placed 20th and Jennah Wilson 31st.

The Tiger coaches were caught by surprise that the boys team wasn’t able to compete more closely with Osceola for the conference title.

“They haven’t had an off day all season as a group,” Coach Kelly said of the boys.

Wachter made sure there was a bright side to the day for the boys. He stayed close to the leaders through the first half of the race. While in the woods in the second half of the course, he passed Prescott’s Phillip Pena to take the lead. Wachter led by more than 20 yards, before Pena made a charge in the home stretch, pulling almost even with Wachter.

“Boots (Wachter’s team nickname) was prepared for his comeback,” Coach Kelly said. “Boots fought him off and showed a warrior mentality.”

The other Tiger boy who stood out was sophomore Hayden Bradbury, who placed ninth to earn second team All-MBC honors. Jackson Pearson, Max Fore, Landon Carney, Mengcha Moua and Cole Eastep ran as a pack, all of them finishing between 22nd and 27th.

The New Richmond junior varsity teams were also champions in both of the JV meets, with Tigers taking the top two spots in both races. Sara Nagel and Ivy Halverson were the top two finishers in the girls JV race, with Ryan Greer and Joe Smallidge finishing 1-2 in the boys JV race.

This Saturday, the Tigers will compete at the Division 1 sectional cross country meet in Chippewa Falls. The meet will be held at the Lake Wissota Golf Course with the boys race starting at 1 p.m. and the girls race at 2 p.m. Coach Kelly said Wachter has the best chance of any Tiger to advance through the meet, saying the Tigers will be concentrating on improvement in their final meet of the season.

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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