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 last time the St. Croix Central boys won a Dunn-St. Croix Conference track meet was before any of the current Panthers were born. The Panther boys stood out on the track and in the field events to earn the 2011 D-SC championship on their home track last Tuesday. The last time the Panther boys won a conference track championship was in 1989. The Panther girls also put together a strong showing in the D-SC meet, finishing in third place. Boys' depth rules The combination of top athletes and outstanding depth proved to be a winning combination for the Panther boys.
While there were definite highlights to the meet, the performance by the Somerset track teams at the 2011 Middle Border Conference didn't quite reach the team's expectations. The Spartan girls placed third in their half of the meet while the boys placed sixth. The highlights of the meet for the Spartans included three conference championships. Somerset seniors Dylan Rivard and Monica Emerson were both MBC champions in the 800 meter run.
The high expectations for the Somerset baseball team didn't quite pan out the way the Spartans had hoped. The Spartans finished Middle Border Conference play on an upbeat note, sweeping a double-header at Durand last Friday, 16-0 and 18-2. Those wins gave the Spartans a 10-4 final record in MBC play. That leaves them in third place in the MBC standings behind New Richmond and Prescott. The Spartans whipped Durand thoroughly on Friday, with both pitching and hitting. In the opening game, senior pitcher Jared Dettmann threw a five inning no-hitter.
The New Richmond girls soccer team kept its slim hopes of a Middle Border Conference title alive by winning two MBC games last week. The critical game for the Tigers was last Thursday's home game against Superior. Superior held a 2-1 advantage until late in the game. That's when Tiger senior Meghan Frank turned the game in New Richmond's favor. With 12 minutes left in the game, Frank scored to tie the score. Frank intercepted a Superior pass about 25 yards from the goal.
Two good chances for wins got away from the Tiger softball team last week. The Tigers led heading into the seventh inning on consecutive nights against River Falls and Amery. The Tigers weren't able to finish off either win, part of a grueling six-loss week for the Tigers. Last Thursday it looked like the Tigers might pull out a non-conference win in River Falls. The Tigers led 5-4 entering the seventh, but River Falls scored twice in the seventh inning to win 6-5. The Tigers scored all five of their runs in the fifth inning.
When the softball teams from Somerset and Durand meet again this Thursday in the opener of WIAA Division 3 playoffs, there will be no secrets. That's because these two teams have played 25 innings worth of softball against each other last week. Last week began with the Spartans and Panthers playing a 15-inning marathon in Durand. The Panthers won that game 6-5. Fast forward to Friday. These teams met again, this time on Somerset's turf. Again, the game stretched into extra innings. This time, it was the Spartans who got to experience the long-earned joy of winning.
After years of running up against perennial state powerhouse Grantsburg in the softball regional tournaments, the WIAA has redrawn the districts this year, and St. Croix Central has benefited. Central has stayed south in this year's Division 3 bracketing. The only way the Panthers and Grantsburg could meet this year would be in the sectional tournaments. With Grantsburg no longer blocking their way, the Panthers earned the top seed in the WIAA Division 3 regional tournament bracket last week.
The New Richmond Millers are riding an emotional high and they aren't afraid to show it. The pumped up Millers got into a benches-clearing situation in their game with the Prescott Pirates on Friday. Keep in mind, Prescott has used the Millers as its personal ragdoll for more than a decade. This is a different Millers team. The Millers were able to control their emotions after the heated exchange and pulled ahead of the Pirates for a 6-4 win. This win raises the Millers' record in the St.
A 9-4 finish in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference has to be considered a successful season for the St. Croix Central baseball team. Now the Panthers hope to carry that success into the WIAA post-season. The Panthers wrapped up their D-SC schedule last Thursday with a 6-2 win over Colfax. The Panthers ended up third in the large school division of the conference behind Elk Mound and Boyceville. After a nine-error fiasco last Monday, the Panthers got back to the top level defense that has been their bread and butter this season. The Panthers committed just one error in Thursday's win at Colfax.
New Richmond's top two doubles teams have played their way into the WIAA Division 1 sectional tournament using some dramatic play to advance. They will play in the WIAA Division 1 Marshfield Sectional Tournament, which is scheduled to be played this Wednesday. Advancing are the one doubles team of Jorden Aufderhar and Justice Harvieux and the two doubles team of Mike Stoffel and Charlie Kleiner.