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 17-5 win by the New Richmond baseball team over Durand last week is a start. But it is just the first step in the improvement the Tigers are looking to make this season. The win was followed up by losses to Menomonie and Prescott, leaving the Tigers with a 1-4 record after the first two full weeks of the regular season. The win over Durand was proof for the Tigers that they can put together some big innings. They opened the game with two runs in the first inning. The rest of the scoring came in two major bursts.
With a win and two ties in their last three games, the New Richmond girls soccer team appears to be overcoming the lack of offense that led to an 0-4 start this season. The Tigers earned their first win of the season last Tuesday, knocking off one of the Middle Border Conference leaders. Superior was unbeaten in the MBC until the Tigers dealt the Spartans a 2-1 defeat. On Thursday the Tigers followed up their win with a hard-fought 1-1 tie at Somerset. New Richmond got the early advantage on Superior and kept it throughout the game. The Tigers scored in the first five minutes of the game.
Anticipation ran high through the Somerset track teams as they prepared for the Hudson True Team Invitational last Friday. This is a meet that measures depth on the team and the Spartans, especially the boys team, was almost giddy at the chance to prove what it could do against much larger schools from western Wisconsin and the Twin Cities. The Spartans proved they can compete evenly with some of the best programs in the area. The boys team placed third in the meet, behind Hudson and River Falls, while beating vaunted programs like Hill-Murray and Park of Cottage Grove.
A triangular meet at UW-Stout last Thursday became the perfect opportunity for the New Richmond track coaches to become prospectors. The coaches worked a number of younger athletes into their lineup for this meet, hoping to strike gold in the form of identifying athletes who can help them in the pursuit of the Middle Border Conference championships. Both Tiger coaching staffs found several prospects who showed they have the potential to help the team in the long run.
After two non-conference wins to start the season, the St. Croix Central softball team went up against two of the top programs in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference and suffered their first two losses of the season. The Panthers were stung in an 11-5 loss at Elk Mound last Tuesday. That was followed by an eight inning 3-2 loss to the newly combined Spring Valley-Plum City cooperative team. The loss to the co-op team was damaging because none of the runs the Panthers allowed were earned. Five errors were crushing for the Panthers, none more than two errors in the eighth inning.
With more experience in the lineup this season, the New Richmond softball team is looking to be more of a factor in the Middle Border Conference race. The Tigers earned the first win of the 2012 season last Tuesday, winning an offensive slugfest at Durand 8-7. The Tigers continued their promising offensive output on Thursday, losing to Prescott 10-6. On Friday the Tigers played a non-conference game at Hudson. Hudson showed it will be strong again, beating the Tigers 13-4. The win at Durand was scoreless through the first three innings, but the offenses took over from there.
There were plenty of highlights for the St. Croix Central track teams at the Rice Lake Invitational last Friday, but none was going to top the performance by sophomore Kayla Pabst. Pabst shattered one of the longest-standing records at Central, breaking the 34-year-old record in the girls discus throw. Pabst launched the discus 127 feet, 7 inches at Rice Lake on Friday. That breaks the record of 117 feet, 11 inches that was set by Cindy Grupe back in 1980. Pabst's throw was one of several highlights for the Panthers in a strong tournament field on Friday.
Ellsworth and Prescott were two top Middle Border Conference teams the Somerset softball team couldn't beat last year. So when the Spartans faced both those opponents last week, they knew the games would measure whether the Spartans can reach their goal of being MBC contenders this season. The Spartans reached that goal. They lost 5-1 at Ellsworth on Thursday, but they knocked off Prescott 3-1 at Larry Forrest Memorial Park last Tuesday. This was Prescott's first MBC loss and it leaves Prescott and Somerset tied for second place in the MBC standings with 2-1 records.
The first five games for the Somerset girls soccer team might have looked like a train wreck, but the Spartans were searching for a rotation that would lead to sustained over the rest of the season. The Spartans think things fell into place in last Thursday's 1-1 tie against New Richmond. The Spartans were outscored 31-3 in the first five games, but the young team had run up against some substantial opponents. The team's defense showed some flaws in the first games, so Coach Erin Wilson decided to completely retool the team's defense for last week's games.
The first Middle Border Conference boys golf match of the 2012 season showed that New Richmond and Somerset will be contenders for this season's conference championship. New Richmond won the team title in last Thursday's MBC opener, held at Krooked Kreek Golf Club in Osceola. Osceola placed second in the match, with Somerset finishing third among the eight MBC teams. Seniors from New Richmond and Somerset shared the medalist honors in the opening round. New Richmond's Kyle Montgomery and Somerset's Jake Green shared the top honors, each shooting a 39.