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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Sometimes, to get a good measure of a football team's passion, you have to listen. You hear the pads popping crisply. You hear enthusiastic, upbeat players in practices who are looking forward to the upcoming season and the possibilities that lie before them. Such is the case for the St. Croix Central football team this season. The Panther players are clearly excited about their season and it shows in the effort level they are pouring into their practices each day. The excitement is justified.
Half of last season's varsity New Richmond girls tennis lineup graduated, so there was some uncertainty as the Tigers got set to begin their 2011 season on Saturday. That uncertainty didn't last long. The Tigers played clean, efficient tennis at all seven varsity flights to score a 7-0 win over Menomonie on the Tigers' home courts Saturday. Second year Tiger head coach Denise Devereux was pleased with the performance, especially against another Division 1 team. The Tiger players enter the season with three different experience levels within the varsity lineup.
The New Richmond girls golf team cracked open the 2011 season by earning a win at the Barron Scramble last Friday. The Tigers followed up that victory by winning the first Middle Border Conference match of the season on Monday. The Tigers won that match by 14 strokes over Osceola. The Chieftains were playing without defending WIAA state champion Casey Danielson, so this might quickly shape up to be a two-team battle for the 2011 MBC championship. The three best scores in the match were posted by New Richmond players. Senior Hannah Wheeler earned medalist honors by shooting a 43.
The 2010 season ended with the New Richmond girls golf team playing in the WIAA state championships. The Tigers fully expect to make the state tournament their final destination again in 2011. A year ago the Tigers became the first New Richmond varsity team to qualify for a state tournament in Division 1 since the district's growth began bumping Tiger sports into the WIAA's top division. The Tigers placed 12th in the Division 1 state tournament.
With four senior letter winners returning to the team, there is a sense of optimism around the Somerset girls golf team to start the 2011 season. Long-time Spartan coach Bill Powers isn't someone prone to making bold statements about his team. He changed his ways for this team. "We might be the second best team in the conference," Powers projected. The Spartans return three of the top 18 players in the Middle Border Conference from last season. Sammi Wolff ranked 11th in conference points last season, Carley Seibel ranked 14th and Andrea Passe ranked 18th.
New Richmond's Josh Calleja has embarked on a professional hockey career. Calleja flew out Tuesday, bound for France, where he will be playing hockey this year. With this opportunity, Calleja becomes the first player from the New Richmond Youth Hockey Association to play the sport professionally. Calleja got the opportunity on the recommendation of former college teammate Tyler Czuba. Czuba and Calleja played together for one year on the UW-River Falls hockey team, during the 2009-10 season. They were put on a line together after Christmas and the combination was magical.
Five years ago T.J. Wink was a tall, skinny left-handed pitcher with terrible mechanics. But he had one thing working in his favor. He had a hunger to learn and the willingness to change to make himself a better ballplayer. That willingness carried him from Glenwood City High School to the New Richmond Millers to UW-Superior. This year, it has earned him a professional baseball contract. Wink has been pitching quite well during his first taste of pro ball. He is pitching for the Pittsfield (Mass.) Colonials in the independent Canadian-American League.
The wall-to-wall restructuring of the kitchen at the Somerset Middle School was scheduled to be completed last Wednesday. The project began right after the 2010-11 school year was completed. Much of the equipment replaced in the middle school was equipment from when the building was constructed in 1975, according to middle school Principal Sara Eichten. "Almost all of it was original," Eichten said. "The cooler and freezer were and the ventilation and the shelving were original.
Sue Bonte Lee is a diehard Milwaukee Brewers fan. On Saturday, in front of more than 44,000 fans, she got to show it. Bonte Lee, the owner of the Agate Inn in New Richmond, was selected to represent the Tavern League of Wisconsin by throwing out the first pitch of Saturday's game at Miller Park in Milwaukee between the Brewers and the Houston Astros. Two days after taking the mound at Miller Park, Bonte Lee was still giddy over the experience. She was one of four people throwing out first pitches at the game. They took the honorees onto the field 25 minutes beforehand.
It was a season of extremes for the New Richmond Millers, but it ultimately ended in disappointment. The Millers finished the St. Croix Valley League last Wednesday, getting drilled in Menomonie 19-1. The Millers barely missed out on making the Wisconsin State Baseball playoffs. The Millers finished at 7-9 in the SCVL and they needed to finish above the .500 level to get into the playoffs. At times the Millers were awe inspiring and at times they were yawn inspiring. The Millers finished 6-2 in home games in the SCVL, but they were a brutal 1-7 on the road.