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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One fact became painfully obvious as the St. Croix Central boys basketball team lost three games last week. The Panthers need more production from players other than their "big three" if they are going to continue to grow this season. Sure, the losses early in the week to Baldwin-Woodville and Colfax came against probably the two strongest opponents the Panthers will see this season. Saturday's loss to Boyceville was a glaring example that the Panthers need more players to be a factor at both ends of the court. The Panthers led through much of Saturday's game.
You couldn't ask for a better week if you were a St. Croix Central wrestler last week. The Panthers won a critical Dunn-St. Croix Conference match on Thursday, beating Glenwood City 32-28. On Saturday the Panthers headed south to Westby. They came home with some nice hardware, sweeping five dual matches to earn the team championship. Thursday's win was another of the line of close matches that are being seen in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference this season.
A plan to remake the kitchen in the Somerset Middle School is in the works, with the job expected to be completed over the summer. The school district facilities committee met at the middle school last Wednesday to review possible options for the kitchen and to see first-hand why the changes are needed. Most of the equipment in the kitchen is still original from the 1975 construction of the building. The committee reviewed three possible renovation plans and decided to send proposal 2B to the full school board. That plan was approved at Monday's board meeting.
Star Prairie Fish and Game continues to flourish and it hopes to help other area wildlife interests continue their progress too. Star Prairie Fish and Game has altered its funding process in hopes of working with more wildlife groups in the future. SPFG has established an outreach fund that can be accessed by local non-profit organizations that meet the SPFG mission.
Three teams were tied with undefeated records at the top of the Middle Border Conference standings when last week began. When the week was over, New Richmond stood alone at the top of the conference standings. The Tigers are now 4-0 in MBC play and 9-0 overall after wins against Prescott and Ellsworth last week. The Tigers began last week ranked fourth in Division 2 in the wissports.net-WBCA Coaches Poll. Prescott gave the Tigers a thorough battle last Tuesday. The Tigers had only a five-point lead with 1:17 left.
Five New Richmond wrestlers earned individual championships, leading the Tigers to the team championship in the 2011 New Richmond Invitational on Saturday. The Tigers won the team championship with 247 points, compared to the 202 points for second place Clear Lake. Drawing as much attention as the wrestling was the comfortable space that was available for the tournament in the new NRHS gym. After decades of shoehorning three mats into the old high school gym, the new gym easily allowed for space for four mats.
Tiger senior goalie Kyle Frey stepped up with his best game of the season at an opportune time. Frey, who is battling classmate Patrick Hailey for the number one goalie role, earned the Tigers' first shutout of the season last Thursday at Baldwin-Woodville, 3-0. The Tigers are now 3-0 at the midway point of the Middle Border Conference season. The Tigers possess a 9-5 overall record. Shot totals reflect how much the Tigers dominated the first and third periods in Thursday's game at Baldwin. The Tigers outshot the Blackhawks 20-7 in the first period.
The Somerset girls basketball team wanted to show it should be considered a contender in the Middle Border Conference. The New Richmond girls now need to show they can compete with the top teams in the MBC. When New Richmond and Somerset met last Friday on the Spartans' home floor, one offense clicked and one offense fizzled.
St. Croix Central got five wrestlers to finals and two Panthers walked away as champions in the 2011 New Richmond Invitational on Saturday. Junior Matt Smith at 160 pounds and sophomore Cody Nyhagen at 152 pounds earned NRI championships. Placing second in their weight classes for the Panthers were Adam Lewis, Carl Moll and Marcus Malecek. Nyhagen was the scourge of the 152-pound class. Nyhagen manhandled all of his opponents, earning a pin in all five matches. This leaves his season record at 20-2. Smith's performance was almost identical.
The ability to win close games can often separate the upper level teams from the middle class. The St. Croix Central boys basketball team has found a way to win close games this season. The Panthers are now 6-3 and only one of their five wins would be remotely close to being called comfortable. The Panthers won all three of their games last week and the Panthers had to pull out all three victories late in the game. The week started with a 57-55 overtime win against Plum City last Tuesday. On Friday the Panthers pulled one out of the fire against Somerset, 53-50.