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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Competing in last Tuesday's Amery Lions Invitational provided some validation for the St. Croix Central track teams. With many larger schools in the 13-team field, the Panthers stood their ground. They took second place in both halves of the meet. St. Croix Central coach Amanda Webb said it was important to the Panthers that they showed they could compete on even footing with the teams in this meet.
The Somerset School District preliminary budget was passed at a special school board meeting on May 2. The 2011-12 preliminary budget was passed without cutting any school staff. That set off a frantic week of activity in the school district, which resulted in approved contracts for the teaching staff and the support staff for the 2011-12 school year. The May 2 meeting was actually a series of meetings, with dozens of school staff members sitting in for parts of the meetings.
The New Richmond boys track team is using its status as a favorite in the Middle Border Conference to train hard and improve. The Tiger girls don't have the same perch in the MBC currently, but with their times and distances, they've shown they still are a threat to win the 2011 MBC title. New Richmond's boys put together a top quality effort last Friday in winning the eight-team River Falls Invitational, finishing 46 points ahead of second place Osceola. Osceola and New Richmond flip-flopped places in the girls meet. Osceola won the title with 155 points.
New Richmond tennis players brought their fishing equipment to last Friday's match. They were out to land Al "Tuna." Altoona nearly landed the Tigers. The Rails won three of the first four matches to finish. The final three matches, all on the singles side, all stretched for more than two hours. The Tigers managed to win all three of those matches to land their 4-3 win over the Rails. The last three matches to finish were at one, three and four singles. All three of those matches went to four sets. The first of those to be completed was Justice Harvieux's 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 win at one singles.
Getting baserunners wasn't a problem for the New Richmond baseball team during the past week. Getting those baserunners home was the challenge. The Tigers had more success with that on Monday, but still needed nine innings to beat Baldwin-Woodville, 5-4. Drew Durham, who got a rare start at catcher on Monday, drove home the game-winner in the ninth inning. Tyler Montgomery led off the ninth inning with a double and he moved to third on a groundout.
At the start of this week, the Somerset track teams had three more meets before they compete in the 2011 Middle Border Conference Track Meet on May 17. The Spartan coaches have a pile of decisions to make before then. Left on the schedule for the Spartans were invitationals this week in Amery and New Richmond. They conclude their regular season with a meet in Colfax next Tuesday. The Spartans teams are at different vantage points in looking at the upcoming MBC meet. The Spartan girls have a legitimate chance to compete for a team title.
The Tigers dominated control of the ball in last Friday's home game against Barron, but they needed two overtimes to secure a victory over the Bears. In the first 20 minutes of the game the Tigers looked like they were going to win in a rout. The Tigers took an early 2-0 lead and dominated play. Kaycie Anderson scored 13 minutes into the game on a breakaway. She got a lead pass from Laura Troftgruben, put on a sweet move to dodge one defender and then easily beat the Barron goalie. Five minutes later, Heather Halvorsen scored her first goal of the season to put the Tigers up 2-0.
Giving up double-digit run totals has proven to be an unbeatable flaw for the New Richmond varsity softball team. In each of their past four losses, the Tigers have given up 10 or more runs. That includes Middle Border Conference losses to Osceola and Durand in recent days. On Monday the Tigers put together one of their best offensive games of the season. But by giving up 13 runs to Durand, the Tigers still fell short in a 13-9 loss to the Panthers. The nine runs was a big improvement from last Thursday.
Taking care of their own business has been the focus of the Somerset baseball team this season. Other than the one-game glitch against a rapidly improving Amery team, the Spartans have carried a steadfast focus through the 2011 season. That attention to detail has carried the Spartans to the top of the Middle Border Conference standings. The Spartans won at Osceola on Monday 7-1, elevating the Spartans' MBC record to 6-1. With Amery spanking Prescott 11-1 on Monday, Somerset now is alone at the top of the MBC standings. There isn't any room for a letdown by the Spartans either.
For much of Monday's game, the Somerset softball team outplayed Prescott, one of the Middle Border Conference leaders. But when the game got down to crunch time, Prescott was able to force the Spartans into several mistakes. Those mistakes were costly as Prescott came back to earn a 7-6 win. The Spartans are 3-4 in the MBC standings after Monday's loss while Prescott is now 5-2. Somerset coach Cory Lindenberg said the Spartans aren't far from being the equal of the top teams in the MBC.