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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Barron's football team hasn't won a game since 2008. St. Croix Central was fortunate it wasn't the Golden Bears' first victim in three years. Central trailed through much of Friday's season opener in Barron. It wasn't until early in the fourth quarter that the Panthers took the lead, holding on for a 36-34 win over the Golden Bears. The Panthers face a much steeper challenge this Friday. They make the short trip east to play at Baldwin-Woodville, renewing the fierce rivalry in the heart of St. Croix County.
Claire Van Dyk of New Richmond will be playing Division 1 college volleyball. Van Dyk has verbally committed to attend Bryant University, an NCAA Division 1 school in Smithfield, Rhode Island. Van Dyk, who will be a senior this fall at Hill-Murray High School in St. Paul, said colleges on the East Coast and in Colorado showed the most interest in recruiting her.
Any doubts about the offensive ability of the Somerset boys soccer team was erased in the first games of the season. The Spartans scored 10 goals in their first game of the season. That was followed by a five goal effort against defending Middle Border Conference champion Osceola. The Spartans opened the season last Tuesday at Spooner. The Spartans posted a 10-1 win, against a team that beat them last season. Somerset senior Zach Dybedahl scored 66 seconds into the game and the rout was on quickly.
Two matches in and it's two wins for the New Richmond girls golf team. The Tigers scored their second Middle Border Conference win of the season last Thursday in a nine-hole match at Pheasant Hills Golf Club outside Hammond. New Richmond won the match with a score of 170. Osceola was second at 187. Somerset was third at 200, with St. Croix Central ranking fourth among the eight teams at 202. This match marked the return of defending state champion Casey Danielson to the Osceola lineup.
The best measure to gauge a New Richmond tennis team is how they fare against Big Rivers Conference opponents. If that's the case, the Tigers appear headed for a prosperous season. The Tigers defeated four of the five Big Rivers opponents they faced in the opening days of the season. The only loss they suffered was to perennial powerhouse Eau Claire Memorial. The Tigers started the season by beating Menomonie 7-0. They then played in a tournament in Eau Claire early last week, where they scored wins over Hudson, Eau Claire North and River Falls.
With four straight Middle Border Conference titles in their trophy case, the New Richmond girls tennis team has ruled the conference for years. And any team wanting to take the title away from this year's Tigers is in for a battle.
Fans of last season's New Richmond boys soccer team might not recognize a lot of faces on the 2011 version of the Tigers. But it shouldn't take long for this season's Tiger squad to make a strong impression. With three seniors on the roster, this is a young group. The Tiger coaches are counting on the fact that inexperience shouldn't hold this team back for long. Last year the Tigers were led by Patrick Hailey and Tyler Montgomery, who could create scoring chances on their own.
After winning three games each of the past two seasons, the Somerset boys soccer team is setting its goals much higher this season. New Spartan coach Bill Roll, who is also the Somerset athletic director, said this team has the athletes to improve on last season's performance. "I would expect us to be a .500 team, or better hopefully," Roll said. "I don't think .500 is unreasonable." A number of younger Spartans got extensive playing time last season.
Two starters return from the 2010 New Richmond football team that won the Tigers' first conference championship in more than a decade. That isn't discouraging Tiger coach Jason Eckert in his hopes for the season. He said this year's seniors are no longer in the shadow of last year's class and this year's seniors say they are ready to step up and be successful. "They feel like they're a forgotten group," Eckert said about this season's senior class.
As four-time defending Middle Border Conference champions, the Somerset Spartans carry a certain amount of traditional expectations into the 2011 season. And while the Spartans are optimistic about the upcoming season, Spartan coach Bruce Larson is trying to be cautious about how high he sets the expectations for this season. The Spartans must replace some pivotal pieces from last year's team, including all-state players Jeremy Kelly and Isaac Neumann, lineman Iaan Hunt, backs Eric Walczak and Dylan Rivard and quarterback Sean Conrad. Make no mistake about this, at many positions the Sparta