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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The outdoor track season kicked off last Thursday, under chilly spring conditions at the St. Croix Central Invitational. For teams like Central, it was the first meet of the season and a chance to find out where the athletes are as they build toward their season goals. For teams like Somerset, which already has competed in three indoor meets, the outdoor season is an extension of what's already been put in place over the past few weeks. Somerset's girls earned another title in Thursday's meet, scoring 173 points to top 10 opponents.
The Dunn-St. Croix Conference schedule starts out with the three toughest possible opponents for the St. Croix Central baseball team. The Panthers played the first two of those games, splitting with Colfax and Elk Mound. The third of those games will come on Thursday against Boyceville. On Monday the Panthers lost at Elk Mound 12-6.
The Somerset softball team led for much of its season opening game last Thursday against Durand. The Spartans couldn't finish off the win. Durand scored five runs in the final two innings to sting the Spartans, 5-3. This year's Spartans are a young team, with two seniors on the roster, Sammi Smith and Paige Diekman. Last year was the first season for the Spartans under coach Carrie Kjellberg. This season, the Spartans have the expectation of being competitive in every game.
The run totals for the St. Croix Central softball team have been staggering in the first two games of the season. The Panthers started the season by scoring 15 runs before the game was called in the third inning in a 15-0 win over Ellsworth. On Monday the Panthers continued to blister the ball, pounding out 18 hits in a 14-2 win over Colfax. Katherine Redmon and Nikki Brooks led the Panthers with four hits each on Monday. Redmon was moved to the leadoff spot for the game and she might not give it back.
If the first week of the season is any indication, the Somerset baseball team is picking up right where it left off after reaching the WIAA sectional tournament in 2009. Pitchers Jared Dettmann and Sean Conrad combined to strike out 18 Durand batters in the Spartans' 9-1 win to open the season last Thursday. The Spartans followed that up by sweeping a double-header against Plum City on Saturday, by scores of 7-3 and 11-0. The pitching dominance carried through Saturday's games.
The inability to clear the ball from in front of the net ended up costing the Somerset girls soccer team last Thursday. The Spartans gave up three goals, all on plays from directly in front of the Somerset goal. That proved to be the difference in a 3-1 loss at Osceola last Thursday. This drops the Spartans' record to 0-2 for the season. Both games were Middle Border Conference contests. Somerset coach Erin Wilson said she felt the Spartans were the better team in a number of aspects in the game.
Roger Zolldan laughs a deep hearty laugh. He said he's heard the question hundreds of times. "How did you have the patience to listen to the noises made by beginning musicians for 36 years?" "Everyone wants to know that," Zolldan said. "At this level you can see so much improvement. It's a lot easier to see than at higher levels, where it's not so dramatic." Zolldan joined the Somerset teaching staff in 1974. He was one of 10 new teachers that year, the largest group of new instructors the school district had added in any year to that point.
Trish Sheridan thought it was the time to take the next step in her education career. After teaching in the classroom for 22 years, Sheridan has moved into the administration at the Somerset School District. She will become the district's curriculum manager following Ron Berg's retirement at the end of June. Sheridan has taught third grade in Somerset the past five years, after moving from the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District. "It was the perfect next step for me," Sheridan said of her move. Sheridan said instruction has always been a passion of hers.
New Richmond senior Shelby Brown intercepted a pass in front of Somerset's goal and wasted no time driving the ball into the net to give the Tigers a 2-1 win over Somerset in the girls soccer season opener for both teams last Thursday. The game was the first played on Somerset's newly constructed varsity soccer field. It was also the varsity coaching debut for Somerset coach Erin Wilson. This was an evenly played game.
Large track meets are great for seeing outstanding athletes competing in their individual events. The more valuable meets, at least early in the season, are the smaller meets where everyone on the team gets to compete in their maximum number of events. Last Tuesday a five-team meet was held at the Knowles Center indoor facility at UW-River Falls. New Richmond and Somerset teams both took this opportunity to stock races with as many athletes as possible.