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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Improvement, not team success, has been the focus of the Somerset track teams in the early stages of the 2014 season. The Spartans got a little boost last Thursday when it was announced that their boys team had won the team championship in the nine-team St. Croix Central Invitational. Spartan coach Terry Otradovec said the win was a relished surprise, saying it was more proof of the progress the team is making. “It wasn’t just the top guys who contributed,” Otradovec said.
With just two starters returning from last season’s team, the Somerset softball team will be extremely young this season. But much like the Spartan girls basketball team, being young doesn’t preclude the Spartans from being successful. The Spartans started their season with a 9-2 homefield loss to Prescott last Thursday. Senior outfielder Megan Starry and junior pitcher Rachel Cloutier are the only returning starters for the Spartans this season. Starry will shift from leftfield to play in centerfield this season.
The best way to describe the St. Croix Central baseball team is to call the Panthers “a work in progress.” The Panthers opened their Dunn-St. Croix Conference season at home last Thursday against Spring Valley. The game was close early, but Spring Valley broke the game open with a nine-run fourth inning in beating the Panthers 15-2. The challenge for the Panthers is finding a combination of veteran and younger players who can form into a competitive starting lineup.
Splitting the team up for two meets last week proved to be a beneficial move for the St. Croix Central track teams. The Panthers decided the previous week that last Thursday’s home meet would only be held for running events, because the field event areas were still too wet for use. The Panther coaches acted quickly, getting their field event athletes added to an indoor meet in Menomonie. The home meet went smoothly, with quite tolerable conditions for the nine teams to compete under on April 10.
Pitcher and catcher are arguably the two most important positions in softball. Those are two positions the St. Croix Central softball team has to fill this season. Kali Armagost was one of the top catchers in the area and Kelly Harrington was a two-year starter at pitcher. Their graduation major voids for the team to fill. With just one senior on the team, the Panthers are looking for a large class of juniors to step forward and take on major roles with the team this season. The Panthers began their season last week, losing games to Alma-Pepin, Glenwood City and Prescott.
The Somerset soccer team is trying to find where it fits within the Middle Border Conference. The Spartans started their MBC schedule last Thursday, facing Baldwin-Woodville, which is expected to be one of the more improved teams in the conference this season. The Blackhawks showed they were ready to make that step up, posting a 5-0 win against the Spartans. On Friday, the Spartans earned their first conference point when they finished in a 1-1 tie with Osceola. Somerset got the only goal of the first half in Friday’s game, thanks to a quick transition from defense to offense.
Five former New Richmond High School athletes and two former Tiger varsity coaches will be the 2014 inductees into the New Richmond High School Athletic Hall of Fame. The five athletes who were voted into the Hall of Fame include 1975 graduate Dwayne Harer, 1982 graduate Keith Gehring, 1987 graduate Sue Brennan, and a pair of 1995 graduates, Scott Cole and Travis Gibson. The former coaches who were elected into the Hall of Fame are former Tiger wrestling coach Bob Olson and former Tiger basketball coach Al Waschke. The inductees were notified last week of their elections.
While high school baseball has been put on hold by the snow piled on area baseball fields, the high school players and coaches got to share some of their baseball knowledge over the weekend. Youth baseball clinics were held in New Richmond and Somerset on Saturday. The goal of both clinics was to impart strong fundamentals to the next generation of baseball players coming through each school’s program. New Richmond More than 60 campers took part in the two sessions held in the New Richmond High School gym on Saturday.
Chuck Ennis organized a Boy Scout troop in Somerset in 1978. Ever since, Ennis has been a driving force for Scouting, not only in Somerset, but all over western Wisconsin. For his 36 years of service, Ennis was honored with Scouting’s highest volunteer award. At the Northern Star Council’s Recognition Dinner on March 22, Ennis was presented the Silver Beaver Award. Ennis was one of 19 volunteers honored from a pool of nearly 20,000 volunteers in the Northern Star Council district. “To be honored with people like that is a great honor,” Ennis said.
The annual Middle Border Conference Scholar-Athlete Banquet was held last Wednesday, honoring the top scholar-athletes from each MBC high school in the Class of 2014. This year’s banquet was held at The Orchard Restaurant in Baldwin.