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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With a place in the WIAA football playoffs already locked up, the St. Croix Central football team can now concentrate on trying to win the Dunn-St. Croix Conference championship. The Panthers improved to 4-0 in the D-SC on Friday by defeating defending conference champion Mondovi, 20-0. The Panthers have not lost in six games this season. The toughest third of the Panthers' regular season is coming up. All three of the Panthers' remaining opponents could end up in the WIAA playoffs. The Panthers' two remaining conference opponents are Boyceville (this Friday) and Spring Valley (Oct. 13).
When the Somerset soccer team is up, it is way up. When the Spartans are down, they can be way down too. The Spartans showed the two ends of their ability spectrum in their two most recent games. On Monday the Spartans were at the top of their game. They were clearly the better team on their home field, beating Hayward 4-2.
Competing in the Roy Griak Invitational is almost like a rite of passage for high school cross country runners. New Richmond, Somerset and St. Croix Central all had their teams run in the annual Griak meet, held at the Les Bolstad Golf Course at the University of Minnesota on Saturday. The meet is an incredible day of running. The day begins with six collegiate races, featuring some of the top programs all over the nation.
The Somerset volleyball team's hopes of a Middle Border Conference championship took a big hit by losing to Ellsworth last week. This Thursday, the Spartans have a chance to get back into a share for the MBC lead. The Spartans will play at Baldwin-Woodville. The Blackhawks are the surprise team of the MBC thus far, winning their first four conference matches. Somerset started this week with a 2-1 conference record. Somerset will play its third and final home match of the season next Tuesday, against Durand. The Spartans split their conference matches last week.
Unforced errors shot down any chance the New Richmond volleyball team had against two of the top teams in the Middle Border Conference last week. The Tigers lost in four games in their matches against Prescott last Tuesday and Somerset last Thursday. The performances by the Tigers in both matches were quite similar. The Tigers were tentative in the first two games, resulting in one-sided losses.
The first Dunn-St. Croix Conference win of the season for the St. Croix Central volleyball team came in front of a large Homecoming crowd last Tuesday. The Panthers lost the opening game, then strung together three sharp games in a row to beat Glenwood City. The Hilltoppers won the opening game 25-23. From there it was all Central, with the Panthers winning 25-20, 25-18 and 25-17. Central coach Kerrie Been said the victory stemmed from the Panthers' improved passing.
There's a great pumpkin at the Somerset Elementary School. And it's drawing great interest from the elementary school students. In a garden grown over the summer by students at the school, a pumpkin plant was planted by art teacher Amy Stevens. Over the summer teachers and students gently tended the plant. With the loving care, a pumpkin grew. And grew. And grew. The pumpkin was harvested last week just before any killing autumn frost could damage it. Stevens, and seven other teachers, lifted the pumpkin onto a pallet. Then they hoisted the pumpkin into the back of a pickup truck.
Traditionally, the Somerset football team has been nearly unbeatable if the Spartans can get a lead in the game. The 2011 Spartans showed on Friday that they are ready to live up to that part of the team's tradition. Using a ground game that controlled the clock by churning out 422 yards, the Spartans were able to overcome New Richmond 40-14 at Seibel Field on Friday. This was a do-or-die game for the Spartans and they played like it.
The New Richmond football team needs to shake off the sting of Friday's 40-14 loss at Somerset in a hurry. New Richmond hosts Ellsworth this Friday. There are five teams bunched at the top of the Middle Border Conference football standings with 2-1 records. New Richmond, Somerset and Ellsworth are all in that mass, along with Durand and Prescott. Those five teams all have substantial chances to win the conference championship, but they also have to be concerned with qualifying for the WIAA playoffs.
The New Richmond girls golf team found a worthy adversary in Osceola in the Tigers' quest for the 2011 Middle Border Girls Golf Championship. With Osceola pushing them every step of the way, the Tigers performed when they were under the greatest pressure. The Tigers took the championship in the 2011 MBC girls golf tournament on Monday at Ellsworth. That win locked up the overall team championship for the Tigers. Osceola didn't leave the Tigers any margin for error in the tournament, but that's the way it has been most of the season. The Tigers won the tournament by shooting a score of 354.