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 two seniors and five returning varsity players, the New Richmond volleyball team will be one of the younger teams in the Middle Border Conference. The Tiger coaches have built their roster with the intent of having the team grow together. Coach Bob Fisher, in his third year of leading the Tigers, has constructed a well-balanced team that has a considerable upside. After being one of the shortest teams in the MBC a year ago, the Tigers will be one of the taller teams in the conference this year. The two seniors on the team are returning players Maggie Dalton and Brooke Ver Bunker.
The New Richmond cross country teams start the season at the opposite ends of the experience spectrum. New Richmond's girls team returns all seven girls who ran when the Tigers won the 2010 Middle Border Conference championship. Conversely, the Tiger boys could be one of the youngest teams in the MBC this season. The New Richmond girls won the 2010 MBC title by having all seven runners place among the top 24 finishers in the meet. All seven of those runners are back.
Somerset volleyball coach Sarah Praschak doesn't mince words. "The sky's the limit," she said about the possibilities for the 2011 Spartans. "They have all the ability of any team I've coached." That's pretty heavy stuff, especially considering Praschak coached Somerset's 1993 WIAA state championship team. The Spartans are carrying 11 girls on their varsity roster and every one is there for a purpose. "It's a very unique team," Praschak said. "Some have strengths in the front row and some in the back row.
A few returning veterans on each team will be counted upon to lead the Somerset cross country teams this season. Somerset's girls ranked second in the Middle Border Conference last season, with three of the seven girls from that team returning this year. The Spartan boys placed seventh in the MBC meet last season, with four of their seven runners returning. The biggest change for the Spartans is the graduation of Monica Emerson. For the past three years Emerson and senior Ontario "Tia" Belter have been the lead tandem for the Spartan girls.
The Dunn-St. Croix Conference has been able to produce top level volleyball teams for many years. This year should add to that legacy of success and the St.
Four new light poles were installed at the Somerset football field last week. The process began when one of the light poles snapped during a storm in May. The other wooden poles were inspected and it was found that two of the three had significant rot, causing the Somerset Board of Education to approve replacement of all four posts. The new posts stand 75 feet tall, which is 5-10 feet taller than the old poles. Somerset Athletic Director Bill Roll said it was decided that while the lights were being replaced, this would also be an optimal time to move the poles.
A group of Somerset Middle School students spent the 2010-11 school year raising money to create better lives for a group of handicapped people in Europe. Somerset Middle School teacher Nancy Klaas was one of the contingent of Somerset teachers and students who went to Latvia in eastern Europe in the summer of 2010. There, Klaas met a woman who was working to make life better for the handicapped people of her community.
Facing two weaker opponents to start the season gave the New Richmond boys soccer team a chance to build some momentum before the Tigers start facing stronger programs. The Tigers opened the season last Thursday with a 10-0 win at Spooner. They followed that up with an 8-0 win over Baldwin-Woodville in their home opener on Monday. The schedule gets more challenging quickly for the Tigers. On Thursday they play at home against Amery, which has consistently been one of the leading contenders in the Middle Border Conference.
Twenty-one of the 22 starting positions for the New Richmond football team were filled with new starters last Friday. Unfortunately, they looked the part. The Tigers played well at times, but they were sunk by their own numerous mistakes, losing to River Falls 37-7. Two bad snaps put the Tigers into an early hole and a handful of miscues kept digging them deeper into trouble. Most of the trouble came in the first half, resulting in the Tigers trailing 30-0 at halftime. There were bright spots for the Tigers. The two who stood out most were a pair of seniors.
Think of the football season as a weekly series of questions the coaches need answered. While the 46-6 Somerset season-opening win at Chetek was highly entertaining for the Spartan fans, it didn't answer a lot of the questions the coaches had about the team. Many more questions will be answered this Friday when the Spartans play their home opener at 7 p.m. The opponent will be Bloomer, one of the top-ranked teams in the state in Division 4.