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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Opponents are starting to go into a defensive cocoon around their own nets to try stopping the high-scoring New Richmond boys soccer team. Last Thursday Amery was able to use its defensive shield to shut down the Tigers. Amery delivered the Tigers' first loss of the 2010 season, 2-0. The Tigers did bounce back on Saturday, scoring a 2-0 win over Superior. Tiger coach Pete Melloy said the Amery loss was a matter of which team took advantage of their scoring chances. "We had a ton of scoring opportunities, but didn't capitalize.
Success in nine-hole matches has helped the New Richmond girls golf team take an early lead in the 2010 Middle Border Conference standings. MBC teams have played three nine-hole matches and the Tigers have won all three. The most recent of those matches were played last Tuesday at Pheasant Hills Golf Club and last Thursday at Krooked Kreek Golf Club in Osceola. The match last Tuesday was huge for the Tigers because they shook off some recent struggles to notch their best score of the season.
The quality of the early season competition should make the St. Croix Central volleyball team better through the rest of the season. The Panthers played in a pair of triangular meets last week to start their season and they didn't back away from scheduling tough competition. In their season opener last Tuesday, the Panthers faced two of the top teams from the Lakeland Conference. They played at Cameron, facing the Comets and Grantsburg.
What can the New Richmond volleyball team do for an encore after winning the Middle Border Conference in 2009? The first thing would be to develop its own identity. With only three players returning from the conference championship team, this is a completely new team. It is also a vastly inexperienced team. How quickly the team can come together will define its level of success for the season. Returning to the team will be seniors Shelby Basel, Shayla Goss and Megan Peterson.
Bad news for the other cross country teams in the Middle Border Conference. The defending MBC girls champions from New Richmond return even stronger in 2010. The Tigers bring back all seven runners who were part of winning the conference championship in 2009, plus several other runners who were threats to make the varsity last season.
Competitiveness is perhaps the most valued asset that coaches like to see in their athletes. The Somerset girls cross country team is packed with runners who carry an intense competitive fire. Spartan coach Diane Belter is hoping that spirit can carry the team to big things this season. The Spartans already return two of the top six runners in the conference. Junior Tia Belter is the defending Middle Border Conference champion and senior Monica Emerson ranked sixth in the conference championship race last season.
The Somerset volleyball team finished second in the Middle Border Conference a year ago. And the Spartans recognize that the door is open to them to take the step up to the top spot in the conference. The Spartans finished 5-2 in the MBC standings last year, in second place behind New Richmond. While the Spartans graduated three all-conference players, New Richmond graduated nine seniors, so the Tigers will have to do some rebuilding this season. Somerset's girls do have some experienced players returning.
St. Croix Central's runners are good and they fully intend to get better by the end of the season. Central's boys are the defending Dunn-St. Croix Conference cross country champions. While repeating as conference kingpins is important to the Panthers, it isn't their ultimate goal. Getting back to the WIAA Division 2 state meet on Oct. 30 at The Ridges Golf Club in Wisconsin Rapids is the goal that drives the Panthers.
Volleyball teams might sell the St. Croix Central volleyball team short this season. That's what the Panthers are counting on. While the Panthers graduated a significant part of their team last year, the Panthers believe they can be a factor in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference again this season. The Panthers won't be the most experienced team in the D-SC.
Months after saying they were happy in the Big Rivers Conference, the Rice Lake school administration has changed its mind. New Richmond school officials were informed recently that Rice Lake wants to be moved into the Middle Border Conference, for football only. Rice Lake submitted this request to the WIAA in late May. But nobody at Rice Lake or the WIAA took the time to notify New Richmond of the request until recently. New Richmond Athletic Director Casey Eckardt has been in contact with the WIAA on the issue.