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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They might be considered a young team in terms of varsity experience, but by getting out to an 8-1 start this season, Somerset's volleyball girls are showing plenty of potential. The only loss thus far for the Spartans came on Saturday when they lost to Hudson in the championship match in Hudson's eight-team invitational meet. This year's Spartan schedule was back-loaded with matches so the team could concentrate on practices early in the season. That time has been used well.
Five turnovers and the inability to stop the Rice Lake quarterback on the option squashed any hopes the New Richmond football team had of a 2-0 start to the 2010 season. Rice Lake quarterback Kody Kovinska scored with 4:07 left in the game to give the Warriors a 28-21 win over the Tigers. With the two teams caught in a subplot caused by Rice Lake's request to get out of the Big Rivers Conference for the 2011-12 season, this game seemed to have an extra edginess to it. The Tigers moved the ball successfully early in the game, but the team's offensive production dropped with each quarter.
One of the best soccer games in the area this season was played in Osceola last Thursday, when the New Richmond boys took on the defending Middle Border Conference champion Chieftains. The game was packed with action and intense to the end, which came in overtime. Unfortunately, lightning moved in, causing the game to be called as a 3-3 tie in the overtime. Three times during the game the Tigers had to come back after Osceola scored a goal. Osceola scored first, with Robert Seiberlich scoring on a penalty kick. Seiberlich is one of the leading scorers in the state this season.
Success at the start of the season is nice, but what matters to the St. Croix Central cross country team is where the Panthers are at the end of the season. Central's boys were champions in their home invitational last Thursday and the Panther girls placed fifth among the seven teams in the meet. The Panther boys put a stranglehold on the team title by having the first three finishers in the meet. Senior Brett Johnson and junior Stephen Brunshidle continued to be the top two Panther runners.
The ability to convert in third and fourth down short-yardage situations was largely the difference in Friday's football game between St. Croix Central and Baldwin-Woodville. The Baldwin-Woodville boys were able to convert in those situations, keeping drives alive that would eventually end in touchdowns. Central wasn't able to convert in those clutch situations. That resulted in the Panthers taking a 31-0 defeat in the non-conference game in Hammond. Baldwin-Woodville is expected to be one of the leading contenders in the Middle Border Conference this season.
For all the success the Somerset football team has seen in recent seasons, the Spartans do not have a glittering record in the non-conference games at the start of those seasons. That is somewhat by design. The Spartans use the non-conference games as teaching tools to get ready for the Middle Border Conference season. The Spartans will show what they learned in the non-conference games when they open the 2010 MBC season this Friday with a home game against Osceola. That's not to say the Spartans wouldn't have loved to win last Friday's game at Bloomer, which they lost 20-19.
The search continues for the New Richmond volleyball team, but coach Bob Fisher is confident an answer is just around the corner. The Tigers lost all three of their dual matches in a quadrangular meet at Hudson last Tuesday. The 13 matches the Tigers played weren't a success in terms of wins and losses. But with the team lacking varsity experience so badly, the heavy dose of early matches helped get the Tigers up to speed for play at the varsity level. In the Hudson quad the Tigers lost to the host team, Durand and the Hudson junior varsity team.
After getting a taste of winning, the Somerset girls cross country team wants to get a steady diet of success. In their first standard meet of the season, Somerset's girls topped six other teams to win the championship in the St. Croix Central Invitational last Thursday. The Spartan boys also showed significant improvement in their sixth place finish. Somerset's girls put three runners in the top seven finishers in Thursday's meet. Senior Monica Emerson placed third and junior Tia Belter was fourth.
Young teams will have ups and downs, especially in a sport like volleyball where momentum ebbs and flows rapidly. The St. Croix Central volleyball team played two matches in a meet at Ellsworth last week. The impact of momentum showed clearly in the Panthers' play in the tournament. The Panthers opened the tournament by facing Clayton. The Panthers played listlessly in the 25-9, 25-17 loss to the Bears. Central coach Kerrie Been was not happy with the number of mistakes in the loss.
A complete game may be a baseball term, but it certainly fits the performance put in by the New Richmond football team in the Tigers' 2010 season opener last Friday. Especially for a first game of the season, the Tigers were sharp in all aspects of their game as they rolled to a 26-7 win at River Falls. Offensively the Tigers built up 399 yards between their success on the ground and through the air. The Tiger defense stuffed the Wildcat running game and River Falls had little success when it tried to pass. New Richmond's offense couldn't have gotten out to a better start.