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 Ellsworth Panthers were expected to be one Somerset's toughest competitors in the Middle Border Conference title chase this season. Ellsworth found it wasn't ready to run with the Spartans, with Somerset delivering a 32-0 setback for Ellsworth's first loss of the season. Somerset, now 3-0, has outscored opponents 100-31 in its first three games. The Spartans are 2-0 in the MBC and they will try to add a third conference win when they play at New Richmond at 7 p.m.
The importance of one stroke stood out quite clearly in the Middle Border Conference golf match played last Wednesday at Clifton Highlands Golf Club near Prescott. One stroke was all that stood between the New Richmond and Osceola girls teams for the match championship. And with the MBC season now in its final two weeks, team points are becoming precious. New Richmond won the match by shooting a score of 181. Osceola took second place with a 182.
Defensively, the New Richmond football team did everything required to win a game last Friday. But with the Tiger offense struggling badly, an energetic effort from the defense was wasted in a 10-0 loss at Prescott on Friday. The loss drops the Tigers to 0-3 for the season and 0-2 in the Middle Border Conference. The assignment gets much more severe this Friday, when the Tigers host defending MBC champion Somerset. Somerset has scored 100 points in its three games this season, while the Tigers have scored 14. Those points came in the second half of the season-opening loss at River Falls.
The loss to Elk Mound in the opening week of Dunn-St. Croix Conference action left the St. Croix Central football team at a crossroads. The Panthers found their way back to the successful style of football on Friday that made them D-SC champions last year. The Panthers tore into Colfax 40-6 to even Central's D-SC record to 1-1. This Friday the Panthers hope to continue playing at that high level when they travel to Mondovi to face the Buffaloes.
"New Richmond Academy?" The New Richmond boys soccer team was so impressed by playing Prairie Seeds Academy, one of the top programs in Minnesota last Friday, that Tiger players joked they should change their own team's name. The Tigers lost to PSA 7-2, but the true impact of the game wasn't seen until the next morning. On Saturday the Tigers hosted Menomonie. With barely 12 hours between games, it would have been easy for the Tigers to play with little gusto on Saturday. Instead, they rolled up a 5-0 lead in dominating the Mustangs.
As the start of the Middle Border Conference volleyball season arrives this Thursday, the Somerset Spartans are right where they want to be. The Spartans played top-level competition in the Hudson Invitational on Saturday, capping a challenging pre-season. Coach Sarah Praschak said the team accomplished everything she was hoping for in the early-season matches. "We're ahead of where I thought we'd be," Praschak said. "Now we need to be consistent and not go backward." The Spartans start their MBC schedule by facing two top contenders.
Sometimes a 7-0 win isn't as easy as it looks. Last Thursday's 7-0 win by the New Richmond tennis team over Osceola is a good reminder of that. The Tigers only lost one set in the match, but Osceola kept the Tigers on their toes in most of the flights. Osceola is coached by former NRHS tennis standout Joe Early. Early said it is his team's goal to keep their opponents moving and try to control the action.
The two largest defensive front walls the New Richmond football team will face in 2012 were those the Tigers ran up against in their first two games. The second of those games was the Tigers' home opener last Friday against Durand. The Tigers could manage just 141 yards of offense in the 20-0 loss to the Panthers. Tiger coach Jason Eckert said he's expecting the team to begin having more offensive success this Friday when the Tigers play at Prescott. Prescott lost last Friday to Somerset 40-17.
The race for the 2012 Middle Border Conference volleyball championship appears to be wide open with no team as a clear-cut favorite. The New Richmond volleyball team is hoping to be the squad that steps to the forefront to win this season's title. This is the most experienced New Richmond varsity team since the Tigers won the MBC championship in 2009. "Our goal should be to compete for the title," said fourth-year Tiger coach Bob Fisher. "That's our goal every year.
When the number of athletes out for cross country matches the number out for the football program, you know running has become a popular sport. That's the case at New Richmond High School. There are 56 athletes out for the NRHS cross country program this fall: 31 boys and 25 girls. What's the key to attracting so many kids into running? Tiger coach Beth Kelly said it involves taking the focus off the running. "Running isn't fun, but that's what we do," Kelly said. "So we try to make it fun. We do a lot of team building and leadership training.