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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Playing a challenging pre-season schedule paid early dividends for the New Richmond boys tennis team. The Tigers won their opening Middle Border Conference match, rolling past a short-handed Ellsworth program 6-1 at the NRHS courts. Last Thursday's Tiger home match against Amery was rained out and will be played this Friday. That comes a day after the Tigers host Durand in a conference match.
A three-game losing streak knocked the St. Croix Central softball team off course, but the Panthers appear to have found their way again. The Panthers suffered their third straight loss last Tuesday against Pepin, which appears to be one of the top teams in this part of the state. In last Thursday's rainstorm, the Panthers played host to Glenwood City. The rain made for a sloppy game, but the Panthers showed some willpower, pulling out a 9-8 win. The Panthers got to play under much better conditions on Monday and their play shined as brightly as the sun.
With some major meets looming on the horizon, the Somerset track teams used last Tuesday's quad meet in Osceola to fine tune some of the aspects of their lineup. The Spartans finished second in both halves of the meet, behind Osceola in each case. For the Spartan boys, sharpening the team's performances in the relay events was a main objective in this meet. Spartan coach Mike Holmquist said the team's relay lineups are set. What legs the runners will get is still to be determined. At Osceola, the relays were looking to sharpen their handoffs to reduce their times.
The 17-5 win by the New Richmond baseball team over Durand last week is a start. But it is just the first step in the improvement the Tigers are looking to make this season. The win was followed up by losses to Menomonie and Prescott, leaving the Tigers with a 1-4 record after the first two full weeks of the regular season. The win over Durand was proof for the Tigers that they can put together some big innings. They opened the game with two runs in the first inning. The rest of the scoring came in two major bursts.
With a win and two ties in their last three games, the New Richmond girls soccer team appears to be overcoming the lack of offense that led to an 0-4 start this season. The Tigers earned their first win of the season last Tuesday, knocking off one of the Middle Border Conference leaders. Superior was unbeaten in the MBC until the Tigers dealt the Spartans a 2-1 defeat. On Thursday the Tigers followed up their win with a hard-fought 1-1 tie at Somerset. New Richmond got the early advantage on Superior and kept it throughout the game. The Tigers scored in the first five minutes of the game.
Anticipation ran high through the Somerset track teams as they prepared for the Hudson True Team Invitational last Friday. This is a meet that measures depth on the team and the Spartans, especially the boys team, was almost giddy at the chance to prove what it could do against much larger schools from western Wisconsin and the Twin Cities. The Spartans proved they can compete evenly with some of the best programs in the area. The boys team placed third in the meet, behind Hudson and River Falls, while beating vaunted programs like Hill-Murray and Park of Cottage Grove.
A triangular meet at UW-Stout last Thursday became the perfect opportunity for the New Richmond track coaches to become prospectors. The coaches worked a number of younger athletes into their lineup for this meet, hoping to strike gold in the form of identifying athletes who can help them in the pursuit of the Middle Border Conference championships. Both Tiger coaching staffs found several prospects who showed they have the potential to help the team in the long run.
After two non-conference wins to start the season, the St. Croix Central softball team went up against two of the top programs in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference and suffered their first two losses of the season. The Panthers were stung in an 11-5 loss at Elk Mound last Tuesday. That was followed by an eight inning 3-2 loss to the newly combined Spring Valley-Plum City cooperative team. The loss to the co-op team was damaging because none of the runs the Panthers allowed were earned. Five errors were crushing for the Panthers, none more than two errors in the eighth inning.
With more experience in the lineup this season, the New Richmond softball team is looking to be more of a factor in the Middle Border Conference race. The Tigers earned the first win of the 2012 season last Tuesday, winning an offensive slugfest at Durand 8-7. The Tigers continued their promising offensive output on Thursday, losing to Prescott 10-6. On Friday the Tigers played a non-conference game at Hudson. Hudson showed it will be strong again, beating the Tigers 13-4. The win at Durand was scoreless through the first three innings, but the offenses took over from there.
There were plenty of highlights for the St. Croix Central track teams at the Rice Lake Invitational last Friday, but none was going to top the performance by sophomore Kayla Pabst. Pabst shattered one of the longest-standing records at Central, breaking the 34-year-old record in the girls discus throw. Pabst launched the discus 127 feet, 7 inches at Rice Lake on Friday. That breaks the record of 117 feet, 11 inches that was set by Cindy Grupe back in 1980. Pabst's throw was one of several highlights for the Panthers in a strong tournament field on Friday.