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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St. Croix Central got five wrestlers to finals and two Panthers walked away as champions in the 2011 New Richmond Invitational on Saturday. Junior Matt Smith at 160 pounds and sophomore Cody Nyhagen at 152 pounds earned NRI championships. Placing second in their weight classes for the Panthers were Adam Lewis, Carl Moll and Marcus Malecek. Nyhagen was the scourge of the 152-pound class. Nyhagen manhandled all of his opponents, earning a pin in all five matches. This leaves his season record at 20-2. Smith's performance was almost identical.
The ability to win close games can often separate the upper level teams from the middle class. The St. Croix Central boys basketball team has found a way to win close games this season. The Panthers are now 6-3 and only one of their five wins would be remotely close to being called comfortable. The Panthers won all three of their games last week and the Panthers had to pull out all three victories late in the game. The week started with a 57-55 overtime win against Plum City last Tuesday. On Friday the Panthers pulled one out of the fire against Somerset, 53-50.
At times during its three games last week, the youth of the Somerset boys basketball team was painfully obvious. But there were also points where the Spartans showed signs of a team coming of age. Those signs were most clear on Friday, when the Spartans lost at St. Croix Central, 53-50. If there was any weariness from playing for the second night in a row, the Spartans didn't show it. They led for much of the game, before St. Croix Central forged ahead in the fourth quarter. Friday's game was one of the most complete performances the Spartans have logged this season.
The Somerset hockey team won once last week, but the Spartans didn't get the win they really wanted. The Spartans went to Baldwin last Tuesday and were surprised in a 5-4 loss to the Blackhawks. The Spartans did bounce back and win in front of their Parents' Night crowd on Friday, beating Spooner 7-2. The loss at Baldwin was a result of over confidence, in the opinion of Spartan coach Dan Gilkerson. "The guys were loose before the game, they thought they'd walk all over them," Gilkerson said. Instead, the Spartans took two penalties in the first 90 seconds of the game.
Two concussions and a frightening beanball in baseball last summer weren't going to scare off Kyle Miller. Miller lost nearly his entire junior basketball season because of the concussions. This year he has been back and playing a key role for the undefeated New Richmond boys basketball team. Miller has been the sixth man for the Tigers this season. He got to achieve one of his goals when he stepped into the starting lineup against Prescott last Tuesday when Dalton Sabby was out sick.
Overtimes have to be creeping into the dreams of the New Richmond girls hockey players. Or should we call them nightmares? The Tigers have now lost three games in overtimes this season, including both of their games last week. The Tigers lost to the Burnett County Blizzard 4-3 last Tuesday. The Tigers went to Hayward on Thursday and suffered a 7-6 overtime loss to the Hurricanes. Despite the 0-3 overtime record, Tiger coach Emily Howlett insists the team deserves a better fate. "We haven't played a bad overtime yet," Howlett said.
Somerset was the new addition to the New Richmond Wrestling Invitational field and the Spartans came away with two NRI individual championships on Saturday. Sophomores Bobby LeRoy and Gabe Flandrick both earned championships for the Spartans in the tournament. The Spartans placed seventh in the team competition. LeRoy and Flandrick both faced tough local rivals in their championship matches. LeRoy, who is now 17-3, started his day with two byes. He then won his next two matches handily, putting him in the finals against Osceola's John Olson.
A return to Dunn-St. Croix Conference play was exactly what the St. Croix Central girls basketball team needed. The Panthers shook off a three-game losing streak, beating Elk Mound and Plum City late last week. The wins lift the Panthers' record to 4-1 in conference play, trailing Mondovi and Colfax in the D-SC standings. The Panthers are now 6-3 overall. The Panther offense has been at something of a low simmer the past few weeks. On Saturday the offense turned up to full boil against the winless Plum City girls. Central jumped out to a 20-3 first quarter lead and led 38-5 at halftime.
Project Lead The Way is a cutting edge educational program that opens doors for students in advanced areas of study. Somerset High School began offering PLTW courses in 2009. Last Thursday, it was announced that the Somerset PLTW has received national certification. This certification makes SHS students eligible to receive college credits at PLTW affiliated universities for certain PLTW courses taken by the students. PLTW is the nation's largest provider of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education courses.
Several teachers who served as advisors to a wide array of organizations at Somerset High School retired at the end of the 2009-10 school year. That meant staff members were needed to step forward and take over those roles.