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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Saturday's WIAA Division 2 regional tournament in Somerset was a nearly perfect day for the home team. The Spartans are hoping they can say the same about this Saturday's WIAA Division 2 sectional tournament, which will be held in Amery. Five Somerset wrestlers advanced through the regional tournament. Three of the Spartans, juniors Austin Bushinger and Haydon Dvorak and sophomore Gabe Flandrick, are regional champions.
Somerset's girls basketball team was able to get even with Ellsworth last Thursday. Ellsworth had inflicted Somerset's only Middle Border Conference loss of the season. The Spartans made sure it didn't happen a second time, beating the Panthers 55-47. The win is the ninth straight for the Spartans, raising their record to 13-3. They've won their past seven MBC games. Ellsworth was the only team to beat Somerset in the first half of the MBC schedule, so the Spartans were fully aware of Ellsworth's ability.
There are things the New Richmond girls hockey team wants to prove in the WIAA playoffs. The playoffs start this Thursday, with the Tigers playing at Hayward at 7 p.m. The Tigers felt they got shorted in the seeding process, receiving the seventh seed in the sectional tournament bracket. Tiger coach Emily Howlett said the team feels the best way to prove that it was shorted is by winning in the playoffs. The Tigers already took one step toward proving they deserved a higher seed when they defeated Hudson last Tuesday, 4-3.
Winning three straight games to end the regular season has raised the Somerset hockey team to the .500 level. If the Spartans want to keep adding to their win streak, they will have to do it without three seniors. Three of the team's seniors were removed from the team Saturday morning, following an athletic code violation Friday night. The Spartans had to travel to Kasson, Minn. on Saturday after learning the three seniors were done for the season.
Just when it appeared the New Richmond girls basketball team was ready to break out of its losing streak, illness struck the team. On Thursday the Tigers played at Baldwin-Woodville, an opponent New Richmond had beaten in the first round of Middle Border Conference play. Unfortunately, a wave of illness swept through the Tigers last week. One-third of the varsity and JV players missed the practice last Wednesday because they were sick.
Two excellent chances to add to their win total slipped away from the Somerset boys basketball team last week. The Spartans jumped out to a 16-4 lead at Osceola last Tuesday. They couldn't hang onto the lead as Osceola clawed its way back for a 36-35 win. That was followed by a 50-40 homecourt loss to Amery last Friday. The Spartans led for parts of the first half on Friday, before a weak second quarter got them in trouble.
A large "Coaches vs. Cancer" crowd got to witness a thrilling performance by the St. Croix Central girls basketball team on Friday night. The Panthers were clearly inspired by the large crowd, scoring 22 points in the first quarter against Plum City. The Panthers maintained a comfortable margin throughout the rest of the game to win 59-41. This win assures that the Panthers will finish among the top four teams in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference this season.
Six of St. Croix Central's wrestlers have advanced to compete in this Saturday's Amery Division 2 sectional wrestling tournament. Junior Lauden Wood and sophomore Carl Moll advance as champions from the St. Croix Central Division 2 regional tournament that the Panthers hosted last Saturday. Matt Smith, Cody Nyhagen, Kyle Aaby and Marcus Malecek move on as second place regional finishers.
Somerset's lead in the Middle Border Conference girls basketball race now stands at two games after Thursday's action. The Spartans won on Thursday with a 55-47 homecourt win over Ellsworth. It was Ellsworth that delivered the Spartans' only conference loss a month ago. Since then the Spartans have won nine straight games, which includes seven conference wins. Senior Ashley Martell led a balanced Spartan attack with 16 points on Thursday.
New Richmond senior Joel Neumann repeated as Middle Border Conference heavyweight wrestling champion and four other Tigers took second place in their weight class at the 2011 Middle Border Conference Wrestling Tournament in Ellsworth on Saturday. The Tigers took third place in the team competition, with Ellsworth continuing its string of conference titles.