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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With four straight Middle Border Conference titles in their trophy case, the New Richmond girls tennis team has ruled the conference for years. And any team wanting to take the title away from this year's Tigers is in for a battle.
Fans of last season's New Richmond boys soccer team might not recognize a lot of faces on the 2011 version of the Tigers. But it shouldn't take long for this season's Tiger squad to make a strong impression. With three seniors on the roster, this is a young group. The Tiger coaches are counting on the fact that inexperience shouldn't hold this team back for long. Last year the Tigers were led by Patrick Hailey and Tyler Montgomery, who could create scoring chances on their own.
After winning three games each of the past two seasons, the Somerset boys soccer team is setting its goals much higher this season. New Spartan coach Bill Roll, who is also the Somerset athletic director, said this team has the athletes to improve on last season's performance. "I would expect us to be a .500 team, or better hopefully," Roll said. "I don't think .500 is unreasonable." A number of younger Spartans got extensive playing time last season.
Two starters return from the 2010 New Richmond football team that won the Tigers' first conference championship in more than a decade. That isn't discouraging Tiger coach Jason Eckert in his hopes for the season. He said this year's seniors are no longer in the shadow of last year's class and this year's seniors say they are ready to step up and be successful. "They feel like they're a forgotten group," Eckert said about this season's senior class.
As four-time defending Middle Border Conference champions, the Somerset Spartans carry a certain amount of traditional expectations into the 2011 season. And while the Spartans are optimistic about the upcoming season, Spartan coach Bruce Larson is trying to be cautious about how high he sets the expectations for this season. The Spartans must replace some pivotal pieces from last year's team, including all-state players Jeremy Kelly and Isaac Neumann, lineman Iaan Hunt, backs Eric Walczak and Dylan Rivard and quarterback Sean Conrad. Make no mistake about this, at many positions the Sparta
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.