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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Several local athletes are out to strong starts in winter collegiate seasons and several others just finished strong fall sports seasons. Here's a breakdown by sport. Volleyball Somerset native Megan Plourde was named to the All-Mountain West Conference volleyball team for the second straight year. Plourde is a sophomore on the Colorado State University women's volleyball team. She led the conference in blocks per match (1.54) and hitting percentage (.364), ranking fourth and 38th in the nation, respectively.
Somewhere between New Richmond and Hayward, the Tiger boys hockey team found its offense. When the Tigers stepped off the bus in Hayward last Tuesday, they suddenly had the offensive spark that had eluded them in their opening games in the Rochester, Minn. Thanksgiving tournament. With the offense clicking, the Tigers were able to roll to a 7-1 win over the Hurricanes. The Tigers and Hurricanes have played many close games through the years, but this wasn't one of them. The Tigers scored the only goals of the first period. The first goal was notched by senior Dan Leavens.
After seven ineffective quarters, the St. Croix Central boys put together one beauty at Glenwood City on Friday. And that was just enough. Despite trailing by 17 points early in the fourth quarter, the Panthers were able to rally for a 47-45 win over the Hilltoppers. This gives Central a 1-1 record for their opening week of the 2010-11 season. The mega-comeback was completed at the buzzer. The Panthers ran an inbounds play with 1.6 seconds left on the clock.
The level of inexperience was quite evident when the Somerset boys basketball team took the court for its season opener last Friday. The Spartans struggled to get their offense rolling throughout the night, losing to a solid Unity team, 48-32. With two seniors on the varsity roster, the Spartans again will be one of the youngest teams in the Middle Border Conference.
In their first outing since the 12-goal barrage against Eau Claire North, the Somerset hockey team scored one goal in Saturday's contest at Tomah. That one goal was all the Spartans needed. With a strong defensive effort and a sterling performance from senior goaltender Dylan Rivard, the Spartans were able to score a 1-0 win over Tomah. The game turned into a showcase for the goalies, Rivard and Tomah's Derek Moser. Rivard, making his first start of the season, stopped all 19 shots he faced.
The name "Radabaugh" earns new Somerset coach Grady Radabaugh instant credibility in local wrestling circles. Radabaugh is the son of Ellsworth coach Jack Radabaugh. The elder Radabaugh is considered a legend in Wisconsin wrestling, having led Ellsworth to 24 Middle Border Conference championships and four WIAA state championships. Grady wrestled under his father at Ellsworth, before wrestling for two years at Minnesota State-Mankato. He served as a volunteer assistant at Superior and Ellsworth and was a paid assistant in Ellsworth the past three years.
The first match set the tone for an opening night win for the St. Croix Central wrestling team and the Panthers are hoping the opening win sets the tone for their season. The Panthers went to Grantsburg last Thursday to face the cooperative team from Grantsburg, Luck and Frederic. The co-op team was hoping for a big night, starting with the opening match at 140 pounds. They consider Ben Ackerly one of their best wrestlers. But they forgot that Central has a pretty fair wrestler there too in senior Chris Halvorson.
The New Richmond boys hockey team withstood an early charge from Hudson on Tuesday to beat the Raiders 5-2 at the New Richmond Sports Center. Hudson came out flying, hitting any Tiger who was near the puck. That early intensity carried the Raiders to a 2-0 lead. New Richmond answered the Raiders' second goal almost immediately, when Max Skatrud scored 10 seconds later. The Tigers scored early in the second period to tie the game on a goal from Josh Leavens.
The showdown between last winter's boys basketball conference champions was everything fans could have asked for. The New Richmond boys, the three-time defending Middle Border Conference champions, got the better of Eau Claire Memorial on Saturday. The Tigers won on the Old Abes' home court, beating the defending Big Rivers Conference championship team 38-26. This was the Tigers' second game of the 2010-11 season.
Youth bowling is being re-established in New Richmond and it's ready to take off. Youth bowling has been moved back to Saturday mornings at Gibby's Lanes. There are already 20 kids who are bowling each Saturday morning and there is room for many more kids to join in the fun. League organizers said they can easily take on as many as 50 kids each Saturday. The program is open to kids ages 6-20 and of any bowling experience level. The league is coached by Derik Thibodeau, Chris Heinbuch, Tom Lund and Jake Sander.