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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New Richmond sophomore Willa Rogers continued her season-long improvement at the WIAA Division 1 sectional championship race and it has earned her a place in the WIAA state championships. Rogers will run in the state championships this Saturday at The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids. The girls Division 1 state championship race is scheduled for 1:45 p.m. on Saturday.
One volleyball match was all it took. Jett Vang was a soccer player until he saw his first volleyball match as a freshman at Somerset High School when he entered the gym after a Spartan soccer game. "It was my first experience of a volleyball game. It totally surprised me, how intense they were, how loud the cheering was," Vang recalled. Vang continued to play soccer through his sophomore season, but his heart was torn. He was the loudest fan at the Spartan volleyball matches and soon he was asked to become the manager for the volleyball team.
Six of the seven teams that defeated the New Richmond boys soccer team in 2018 have advanced to the WIAA sectional tournament level. The one who didn't? That would be River Falls, who the Tigers defeated 3-2 on Saturday, Oct. 20, propelling the Tigers to the WIAA Division 1 sectional tournament for the third straight season. The Tigers will play at top-seeded Holmen at 4 p.m. on Thursday. The winner of that game will play at 1 p.m. on Saturday in the sectional championship game at Tomah.
The season came to a quick end for the Somerset volleyball team last Tuesday. As the 12th seed, the Spartans traveled to fifth-seeded Altoona for the opening round match in last Tuesday's Division 2 bracket. The Spartans were beaten in three sets. Slow starts damaged the Spartans' chances, who fell behind 7-1 in each of the first two sets. The Spartans ended up taking 25-14 losses in each.
Aaron Joppru, a member of the Somerset High School Class of 2014, was killed in a motorcycle accident on Tuesday in Seattle, Wash. Joppru was living in Seattle, where he was stationed in the Coast Guard. Funeral arrangements are being planned for Saturday at Johnson Funeral Home in Thief River Falls, Minn. Joppru was a highly successful two-sport at Somerset, excelling in track and soccer.
This wasn't the way it was supposed to end. After their highly impressive 8-0 win against Osceola in the opening round of the WIAA Division 3 regional tournament last Thursday, the Somerset boys soccer team was hoping for a strong showing at Rice Lake on Saturday, Oct. 20. An injury to junior Aaron Shartin-Folkert 20 minutes into the game left the Spartans with their hearts and minds somewhere else. Somerset coach Bill Roll said Shartin-Folkert "made a clean slide tackle and landed hard on their hard turf. He had some numbness in his back."
The St. Croix Central volleyball team got away with playing less than its best once. But in the second level of the WIAA tournaments, the Panthers weren't so fortunate. The Panthers were knocked off in the Division 2 regionals by red-hot Amery in five sets. It was a stunning loss for the Panthers, who were regional champions last year and reached the sectional championship match. Central coach Mindy Widiker said she gave the girls several days off from the loss to deal with the setback.
For a match that would end their seasons, and for the seniors their careers, it was a final match the New Richmond volleyball team could be proud about. The Tigers were the 12th seed, playing at fifth-seeded Superior in the opening round of the WIAA Division 1 regionals last Thursday. The Tigers put up an excellent showing. They lost the first two sets 25-23 and 25-22. With little energy left, they lost the final set 25-10. The Tigers finish the season with a 15-18 record.
Three hundred thirty-six wins. That is the impressive number of victories that Adam Swanda amassed in his 21 years as the varsity coach of the New Richmond boys hockey team. While that is an incredible win total, it does not include the one win that Swanda most wanted in his coaching career. "I wanted to be part of the team that won a WIAA state tournament in a one-class system," Swanda said. That won't be happening. Swanda's resignation was accepted at the Oct. 15 meeting of the New Richmond Board of Education.
Even with their top runner competing with an injury, the St. Croix Central boys cross country team was able to qualify for the WIAA State Cross Country Championships. The Panthers placed second behind Osceola at the Division 2 sectional meet, which was held in incredibly windy conditions at St. Croix Central on Saturday.