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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After hitting the low point in its season, the St. Croix Central boys basketball team followed up with its finest night of the season. The Panthers earned their second win of the season on Friday, winning at Glenwood City 50-37. Friday's win came three nights after the Panthers were soundly beaten by Spring Valley, 60-33. Central coach Zach Turpin called that loss "rock bottom" after the Panthers thought they could contend with the Cardinals. Perhaps because the Panthers struggled so badly at home against Spring Valley, it made Friday's sharp performance all the sweeter.
Six Somerset wrestlers reached the finals and three brought home individual championships from the EP Invitational held at Eden Prairie (Minn.) High School on Jan. 21. Winning championships for the Spartans on Saturday were Gabe Flandrick, Austin Bushinger and Haydon Dvorak. Also reaching the finals were Bobby LeRoy, John Russell and Anthony Doree. This held special significance for Russell and Doree. It was the first varsity tournament championship bout for both seniors. The Spartans finished fourth among the seven teams in the tournament with 179 points.
A major scholastic honor was earned by the Somerset Academic Decathlon team at its regional competition at UW-Barron County in Rice Lake on Jan. 13. For the first time in team history, the Somerset High School team advanced to the state level in the Academic Decathlon competition. The state Academic Decathlon competition will be held on March 15-16 in Wisconsin Dells.
Junior Austin Zywiec scored a hat trick as the New Richmond boys hockey team won its fourth straight game on Saturday, a 6-2 decision at River Falls. Zywiec's goals have come in clusters since he was moved to the first forward line, paired with Nate Jones and Parker Olson. Zywiec scored once in each period of Saturday's game at Hunt Arena on the UW-River Falls campus. This is his second hat trick of the season. The first came against Rochester Century. Tiger coach Adam Swanda said there were two goals that stood out in Saturday's game.
Heading into the Middle Border Conference wrestling season, Ellsworth and Amery were expected to be clear-cut as the top two teams in the MBC. The New Richmond wrestlers nearly threw that thinking out of whack on Thursday. The Tigers were without four varsity wrestlers and were trailing 27-6 halfway through the match. Then the Tigers caught fire. The Tigers scored four straight pins to take a 30-27 lead over the Warriors with three bouts remaining.
The New Richmond boys basketball team may be tied for the Middle Border Conference lead, but that doesn't mean the Tigers have been playing up to their potential. During a 51-45 loss to Amery last Friday, the Tigers didn't look like a team that had team success as its highest priority and Tiger coach Rick Montreal is out to change that. The Tiger coaches have been growing increasingly frustrated by the lack of consistency the Tigers are showing.
The strong early start by the New Richmond girls basketball team made them a target in Middle Border Conference games. After winning their first three MBC games to take the lead in the conference standings, the Tigers were derailed last week. They lost games at Somerset and Amery and they are now one game behind Durand and Somerset for the MBC lead. The game at Somerset was a gritty battle that stretched into overtime.
Facing two of the top programs in the basketball-rich Dunn-St. Croix Conference served as a learning experience for the St. Croix Central girls team last week. The Panthers faced defending D-SC champion Colfax on Tuesday and 2011 sectional final qualifier Boyceville on Friday. Central coach Luke Fritsche tried to have the girls play with the understanding that improving their skills in these games would help the team be stronger when they play opponents with more comparable skills. Colfax scored a 56-17 win over the Panthers, outscoring Central 38-9 in the first half.
The angst of a grueling non-conference season has quickly melted away for the Somerset girls basketball team. Wins over New Richmond and Ellsworth last week provided a quick ascent up the Middle Border Conference standings for the Spartans. They began this week with a 4-1 MBC record, putting them in a first place tie with Durand. The Spartans' win over New Richmond last Tuesday was an immense defensive battle, sprinkled with bursts of offense.
The Stillwater Stampede offered some strong competition for the Somerset wrestling team on Saturday. The Spartans put forth a good showing, winning two duals and giving the tournament champion its best competition of the day. In the opening round of the tournament the Spartans drew the top seed, powerful Bloomington Kennedy. Somerset lost 40-30, which was the closest any team came to Bloomington in the tournament.