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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A severe case of nerves gripped the St. Croix Central football team in the first quarter of the Panthers' first game of the WIAA Division 4 playoffs on Saturday. The undefeated Panthers spotted Baldwin-Woodville a 14-0 lead, before using fast, physical play to wear down the Blackhawks. That resulted in the Panthers coming back for a 28-22 victory on their home field. As the top seed in the regional bracket, the Panthers will be back home in the second round of the WIAA playoffs this Saturday. They will play at 3 p.m., facing Durand.
Somerset's annual march into the WIAA state football playoffs took its first step forward on Friday, when the Spartans manhandled Unity 54-14 in the opening round of Division 4 playoff action. The Spartans will play in Level 2 of the WIAA playoffs this Saturday. The Spartans will play at Spooner at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Spooner advanced to the second round by defeating St. Croix Falls 28-12 last Saturday. Friday's win raises the Spartans' season record to 9-1. Spooner enters Saturday's game with an 8-2 record.
Stephen Brunshidle took the term "gutting it out" to a whole new level. A month after undergoing an appendectomy, Brunshidle qualified to run in the 2011 WIAA State Cross Country Championships by placing eighth in the Barron Division 2 sectional meet on Friday. Central senior Alex Halvorson experienced his own gut-wrenching experience at the sectional meet. Halvorson missed being the second Panther to qualify for state by one place. Halvorson finished 10th in the sectional meet.
Menomonie is the measuring stick by which all other western Wisconsin football teams are measured. The newly-named Mustangs have won a WIAA playoff game for 22 straight seasons. So when New Richmond's boys went to UW-Stout on Friday to play the Mustangs, they weren't sure what the outcome would be. The Tigers surprised most fans, and possibly themselves too, by competing well with the Mustangs. The Tigers, who went into the game with a 4-5 record, lost to the Mustangs 31-6.
The Altoona Rails were ranked number one for a reason in the Division 2 regional tournament bracket and the Somerset volleyball team found out why last Thursday. The Spartans went to Altoona, seeded fourth in the Division 2 bracket despite winning a share of the Middle Border Conference championship. The Spartans took the first game in the regional semifinal, 29-27. From there it was Altoona which stood out, winning 26-24, 25-15 and 25-20 to advance to Saturday's regional final. Altoona also won that match, advancing to the sectional semifinal this Thursday against Rice Lake.
At the end of each successful New Richmond cross country season in recent years, the Tigers have a humbling end inflicted on their season. Moving up to compete in one of the strongest Division 1 sectional tournaments in the state will do that to a team. The Tigers were the smallest team competing in the Tomah Division 1 sectional meet on Saturday. The Tiger girls finished ninth in the team competition while the Tiger boys placed 12th in their half of the meet. The Tiger girls had hoped to improve on their eighth place finish from last year.
Somerset seniors Tia Belter and Jake Wishard hoped they could work their way up in the packs of runners at the Barron Division 2 sectional meet and somehow qualify for the 2011 WIAA state cross country championships. Despite running some of the best races of their careers, they both fell just short of their ultimate goal. Belter finished 13th in the girls race, crossing 10 seconds behind the final individual state qualifier.
Unless you are a state champion, every high school volleyball team ends their season with a loss. That the New Richmond volleyball team ended the season with an upbeat performance can give the Tigers a more palatable view as they try to put this season in their rear view mirrors. The Tigers, who were seeded sixth, lost to third seed Hayward in the opening round of WIAA Division 2 regional tournament play last Tuesday. In the opening game the Tigers struggled badly, losing 25-11. Early in the second game, the Tigers began rolling.
There's a colorful new addition to the field shows performed by the Somerset High School marching band this fall. A color guard has been added to perform with the Spartan marching band. There has not been a color guard element in the marching band for more than a decade. The color guard idea was brought forth by second year middle school music teacher Dawn Tunison. She brings extensive experience on the subject. "I was a long-time member of Minnesota Brass Drum & Bugle Corps, and had marched in their competitive winter guards, as I played trumpet with the group in the summer.
Pack running has won the New Richmond cross country girls a pack of Middle Border Conference championships. The Tiger girls made pack running an artform as they locked up their fifth straight MBC championship in the 2011 conference races, held last Thursday in Amery. New Richmond's boys also put together an uplifting effort at the conference meet, taking fourth place despite missing their top runner with an injury. Tiger coach Beth Kelly said the string of conference girls championships shows the level of effort the athletes put into their sport. "The kids' commitment and dedication is yea