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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We're just two weeks into the Middle Border Conference football season and the New Richmond Tigers are already alone at the top of the MBC standings. The Tigers pulled off a stunner on Friday, manhandling previously unbeaten Prescott, 33-6. The Tigers are 2-0 in the MBC standings, but there's little breathing room with six teams poised at 1-1. The Tigers draw one of the toughest assignments in the conference this Friday. The Tigers will play at Somerset, where the Spartans are coming off their first homefield conference loss since they joined the MBC in 2002.
Inserting Tyler Ledbeter at quarterback and shifting Robbie Flom from quarterback to slotback delivered positive results for the Somerset football team in its first game with its new backfield alignment. The Spartans made those changes following their Sept. 9 loss to Prescott. With the new backfield, the Spartans were able to score a 22-6 win in Ellsworth last Friday. The tasks continue to get more difficult for the Spartans. This Friday the Spartans host Middle Border Conference leading New Richmond. A win would move the Spartans into a tie for the MBC lead.
The New Richmond girls cross country team found that anything less than its best leaves the Tigers in jeopardy of getting beaten this season. The Tigers ran well in last Thursday's Invitational, but not as well as Rice Lake. Rice Lake got all seven of its girls across the finish line before the Tigers got their fifth runner across. Rice Lake won the meet with 46 points, compared to 51 for the Tigers. Fourteen teams competed in the meet. New Richmond's boys took eighth place in their half of the meet. Four of New Richmond's girls placed among the top 11 runners in Thursday's race.
The first two losses of the season shook the confidence of the New Richmond boys soccer team. In games at Cumberland and Menomonie late last week, the Tigers gradually got their confidence back. The Tigers started the season with a 6-0 record. They then took their first two losses of the season, against Hastings and Amery. They came back with wins at Cumberland and Menomonie. When the Tigers went to Cumberland last Thursday, their confidence was at a crossroads.
A disinfectant was needed to clean a virus out of the St. Croix Central football locker room that made several of the Panthers ill during the week. A harsh scolding at halftime by the Central coaches served as a disinfectant after a sickly first half of play by the Panthers on Friday. The message got through as the Panthers buried Elk Mound under a 32-point avalanche in the third quarter, resulting in a 38-3 win for Central. The Panthers now hold a 4-0 season record. They stand alone at the top of the Dunn-St. Croix Conference standings with a 2-0 mark.
The New Richmond girls golf team keeps inching closer toward the 2011 Middle Border Conference championship. With wins in two MBC matches last week, the Tigers now hold a five-point lead in the conference standings over Osceola. All that stands between the Tigers and the conference title was this Tuesday's nine-hole match at Clifton High Highlands Golf Course and next Monday's MBC tournament. The 2011 MBC tournament will be an 18-hole event at the Ellsworth Country Club, starting at 9 a.m. on Monday. In both of the conference matches last week, the Tigers were closely pursued by Osceola.
The New Richmond girls tennis team now holds a 4-0 record in the Middle Border Conference after wins against Osceola and Ellsworth last week. The Tigers have not lost a match in any of their four conference bouts this season. They swept Osceola 7-0 last Thursday, two days after they'd defeated Ellsworth 7-0. Sometimes team progress can show most in a one-sided tennis match. When the Tigers played Ellsworth, there wasn't much drama expected in the match. Ellsworth is a young team that is working with its fourth different coach in four years.
In their home quad meet last Tuesday, a home match against Menomonie last Thursday and a tournament in Coon Rapids on Saturday, the New Richmond volleyball team had stretches where they played at a high level. The task for the young Tigers is to build those glimpses into complete games and get rid of the mini-meltdowns that cost them more chances at wins. In last Tuesday's quad against Middle Border Conference opponents Ellsworth, Durand and Prescott, the Tigers won five of the nine games they played.
Somerset's volleyball team began its Middle Border Conference season this Thursday with a home match against Prescott. To prepare for the conference season, the Spartans have been playing a challenging non-conference schedule. On Saturday the Spartans played four matches in a tournament in Hudson. All four matches were closely contested, with Somerset getting one win among the four. Somerset began the day against Prescott. The Spartans don't seem to be a morning team. Prescott was able to score a 25-18, 25-19 win in that match. Errors in returning serves cost the Spartans against Prescott.
If volleyball games were played to 20 points instead of 25, the St. Croix Central volleyball team would have a drastically different record this season. After close losses to Baldwin-Woodville and Somerset last week, the Panthers' hold a record of 1-8. In many of those games, the Panthers led deep into the contest. Nerves seem to get the better of the young Panthers in the final stretch of those games, opening the door for opponents to pull off comebacks. That was the case in both of the Panthers' losses last week.