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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The local track season started with meets Thursday and Saturday and the New Richmond and Somerset teams quickly showed they have plenty of promise. The New Richmond girls already have a prized victory in their possession. The Tigers topped 10 other teams to win the large school division of the Northern Badger Invitational at UW-Stout on Saturday. Here are rundowns on each of the local teams for their first week of competition. Tiger girls Tiger coach Judy Weiss did not put together a lineup aiming to win Saturday's meet.
Jason Koele has produced excellent results in his first year as the St. Croix Central High School band instructor. He is hoping to deliver the same type of success as Central's new varsity baseball coach. Koele (pronounced coo-lee) was hired after Mike Fern announced his retirement from the position due to health concerns. Fern had coached the Panthers the past 13 seasons. Koele, 24, is a Prescott native. He was an all-Middle Border Conference baseball player at Prescott. He attended Augsburg University.
Wow, what a winter. Conference champions were plentiful, in team and individual sports. There were so many noteworthy performances, with the senior class stepping up to put in a memorable season. To honor some of the top performances of the winter, we present the season's Inhuman Awards. Boys Hockey Most Valuable Offense: Nate Jones, New Richmond. Honorable Mention: Austin Zywiec, New Richmond; Zach Dybedahl, Somerset, Robbie Flom, Somerset. Jones wore a 9 on the back of his Tiger sweater, but it just as easily could have been a target in the center of his back.
A spectacular performance in the sectional semifinals last Thursday carried the Somerset boys basketball team within one game of the WIAA Division 3 state tournament. In Saturday's sectional championship game, the Spartans ran up against an opponent with a suffocating zone defense, Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau. The Spartans were never able to find ways to penetrate the GET defense, losing 52-29 in the sectional title game at River Falls. GET will battle Marshall at 10:45 a.m.
The uplifting New Richmond girls basketball season came to a rocky end on Tuesday. The Tigers were upended in the opening round of the WIAA Division 2 regional playoffs, losing in overtime to Menomonie 48-45. New Richmond had a double-digit lead twice in the game, but the Tiger offense stalled late in the game. Menomonie outscored the Tigers 10-3 in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime. St. Croix Central's girls also saw their season come to an end on Tuesday.
The New Richmond boys have become the first Middle Border Conference team to win conference boys basketball championships in five straight seasons. The Tigers completed that feat on Thursday with a 50-29 win over Osceola. New Richmond finishes tied with Baldwin-Woodville for the 2011-12 MBC championship. Both teams finish with 11-3 records. B-W locked up its share of the title with a 46-36 win over Ellsworth on Thursday. New Richmond went relatively unchallenged by the young Osceola team on Thursday.
The New Richmond girls basketball team completed one of the most incredible one-year turnarounds in Middle Border Conference history on Friday night. With the Tigers' 47-35 win at Osceola and Somerset's 33-30 victory over Durand, the Tigers were able to win a share of the 2011-12 Middle Border Conference title. Durand plays at Osceola this Thursday. If Osceola could upset Durand, it would give the Tigers the outright MBC title. The Tigers found out about Somerset's victory moments after they had completed their own win.
New Richmond and Superior are building a tradition of meeting in the boys hockey sectional championship game. Those two teams met in the sectional title game for the third straight year on Saturday. Last year New Richmond broke Superior's stronghold on the sectional championship, but this year Superior took the title back, beating New Richmond 3-0 at the Amery Ice Arena. The Tigers finish the season with a 16-10 record. Superior and New Richmond were both taking defense-first attitudes for Saturday's game.
Marcus Malecek completed one of the finest seasons in St. Croix Central wrestling history by earning second place in the 220-pound bracket of the WIAA Division 2 state championship match at the Kohl Center in Madison on Saturday. Malecek finishes the season with a 47-1 record. His only loss came in the state championship match, against defending state champion Riley Delzer of Oconto Falls. Central was also represented at state by Lauden Wood, Adam Lewis, Cody Nyhagen and Kyle Aaby. Malecek won two close matches to reach the championship match.
The four Somerset standout wrestlers have been working toward collective success all season, so it's fitting that all four were able to get their turn on the awards podium at the 2012 WIAA State Wrestling Championships. Somerset junior Gabe Flandrick was the runner-up in a history-making 138-pound Division 2 weight class. Spartan senior Haydon Dvorak took third place at 182 pounds. Junior Bobby LeRoy finished in fifth place and senior Austin Bushinger was a sixth place finisher. Flandrick's mission for two years has been to measure himself against Cuba City Jared Donar.