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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What can the New Richmond volleyball team do for an encore after winning the Middle Border Conference in 2009? The first thing would be to develop its own identity. With only three players returning from the conference championship team, this is a completely new team. It is also a vastly inexperienced team. How quickly the team can come together will define its level of success for the season. Returning to the team will be seniors Shelby Basel, Shayla Goss and Megan Peterson.
Bad news for the other cross country teams in the Middle Border Conference. The defending MBC girls champions from New Richmond return even stronger in 2010. The Tigers bring back all seven runners who were part of winning the conference championship in 2009, plus several other runners who were threats to make the varsity last season.
Competitiveness is perhaps the most valued asset that coaches like to see in their athletes. The Somerset girls cross country team is packed with runners who carry an intense competitive fire. Spartan coach Diane Belter is hoping that spirit can carry the team to big things this season. The Spartans already return two of the top six runners in the conference. Junior Tia Belter is the defending Middle Border Conference champion and senior Monica Emerson ranked sixth in the conference championship race last season.
The Somerset volleyball team finished second in the Middle Border Conference a year ago. And the Spartans recognize that the door is open to them to take the step up to the top spot in the conference. The Spartans finished 5-2 in the MBC standings last year, in second place behind New Richmond. While the Spartans graduated three all-conference players, New Richmond graduated nine seniors, so the Tigers will have to do some rebuilding this season. Somerset's girls do have some experienced players returning.
St. Croix Central's runners are good and they fully intend to get better by the end of the season. Central's boys are the defending Dunn-St. Croix Conference cross country champions. While repeating as conference kingpins is important to the Panthers, it isn't their ultimate goal. Getting back to the WIAA Division 2 state meet on Oct. 30 at The Ridges Golf Club in Wisconsin Rapids is the goal that drives the Panthers.
Volleyball teams might sell the St. Croix Central volleyball team short this season. That's what the Panthers are counting on. While the Panthers graduated a significant part of their team last year, the Panthers believe they can be a factor in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference again this season. The Panthers won't be the most experienced team in the D-SC.
Months after saying they were happy in the Big Rivers Conference, the Rice Lake school administration has changed its mind. New Richmond school officials were informed recently that Rice Lake wants to be moved into the Middle Border Conference, for football only. Rice Lake submitted this request to the WIAA in late May. But nobody at Rice Lake or the WIAA took the time to notify New Richmond of the request until recently. New Richmond Athletic Director Casey Eckardt has been in contact with the WIAA on the issue.
The New Richmond boys soccer team has been sizzling to start the 2010 season. The Tigers started their season last week with games against Somerset and Spooner. The Tigers ended up with a combined 16-0 final advantage over their two opponents. The Tigers opened the season last Tuesday, winning at Somerset 5-0. That was an appetizer for Thursday, when the Tigers feasted on Spooner, 11-0. The offensive outburst against Spooner showed how diverse the Tiger attack is going to be this season. Seven different Tigers scored during the victory.
The New Richmond girls tennis coaches wanted more Division 1 opponents on their schedule. In the first two weeks of the 2010 season, the Tigers have gotten a steady diet of Division 1 matches. And the Tigers have stood up to the Division 1 challenges quite nicely, too. Following tournaments at Eau Claire and Altoona last week, the Tigers were 5-3 against Division 1 opponents In the tournament at Altoona last Friday and Saturday, the Tigers won three of their four matches. The Tigers' only loss was against Altoona in an extremely close call.
Anyone who has spent any time golfing has learned how humbling the sport can be. The New Richmond girls golf team was reminded of that fact in a tournament in Eau Claire on Monday. The Tigers were playing in the Old Abe Invitational, hosted by Eau Claire Memorial, at the Hillcrest Country Club. Most of the Tigers have never played this difficult course and on the front nine, it clearly got the better of them. While the golf course might have gotten the better of the Tigers early in the round, they recovered.