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 hottest team in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference over the final three weeks of the regular season was the St. Croix Central boys basketball team. The Panthers finished the season with five straight conference wins. The regular season finale came on Friday, when the Panthers barged past Colfax, 66-53. The late run at the end of the season raises the Panthers' record to the .500 level in conference play. They had been 4-9 in the D-SC until their surge in February. Central coach Mike Fern said the turning point for his team was the Feb. 9 win over conference champion Mondovi.
The New Richmond boys basketball team is a conference champion, but it was an awkwardly earned Middle Border Conference title. All the Tigers needed to do to win a share of the MBC title was win at Amery last Friday. That did not happen. The Tigers played perhaps their worst game since the calendar turned over to 2009, falling at Amery, 59-47. This game was moved ahead two hours to accommodate the regional championship game for the Amery girls team, which had been postponed a day.
The sixth place finish by St. Croix Central's Zach Gillis in the WIAA Division 3 State Wrestling Championships is a big step for the Panther junior. But it is by no means the top step in his wrestling career. Gillis won two of his five matches in the Division 3 135-pound bracket at state to earn sixth place at state. That gave him the rare opportunity to take his place on the WIAA state awards podium. Panther coach Brad Holzer said he fully expects Gillis to come back even stronger next year in an attempt to return to the state wrestling awards podium. "He's a pretty dedicated kid.
Somerset senior Darrin Emmeck capped his high school wrestling career by taking fourth place at 285 pounds in the Division 2 WIAA State Wrestling Championships in Madison. Emmeck's focus will quickly switch from wrestling back to football. Next week he and classmate Bryan Witzmann will be leaving to play in the 2009 Global Challenge Bowl.
New Richmond seniors Bradley Gartner and Tom Volkert proved they belong among the state's best wrestlers during the 2009 WIAA State Wrestling Championships, held last Thursday through Saturday in Madison. Gartner got rolling in the wrestlebacks and was able to earn a fourth place finish among the Division 1 130-pounders at the 2009 state meet.
Heading into Saturday's WIAA Division 3 wrestling sectional tournament in Osseo-Fairchild, St. Croix Central's Zach Gillis was considered one of three standout wrestlers in the 135-pound weight class. Gillis didn't disappoint. He finished in third place in the 135-pound sectional class, earning his first trip to the WIAA State Individual Wrestling Championships in Madison this week. Gillis' first round match at state is scheduled for Thursday evening. St. Croix Central also had senior Casey Perry wrestling at the sectional meet.
Somerset heavyweight Darrin Emmeck found a way to beat Prescott's John Kariesch, which locked up a sectional championship for the Spartan senior. By winning the sectional title, Emmeck receives a bye in the opening round of the 2009 WIAA State Wrestling Championships, which will be held this Thursday through Saturday at the Kohl Fieldhouse in Madison. Emmeck's first match will come in the Friday morning session that begins at 11:15 a.m.
New Richmond seniors Bradley Gartner and Tom Volkert have one more shot to attain the biggest goal in their high school wrestling careers. Gartner and Volkert will get the second opportunity of their careers to wrestle in the WIAA State Championships, starting this Thursday at the Kohl Fieldhouse in Madison. Gartner wrestled at state as a sophomore and Volkert reached state as a junior.
There is every reason to believe the Somerset girls basketball team was fully ready for the start of the WIAA playoffs this week. The Spartans were scheduled to play at Ashland on Tuesday in the opening round of WIAA regional tournament action. The Spartans were seeded sixth in the regional, but with an 11-9 record, no team can take the Spartans lightly. The winner of Tuesday's tournament game will play again this Thursday, facing the winner of the game between Hayward and New Richmond. The winner of Saturday's game will advance to Saturday's regional final, which will be played at 2 p.m.
It was a double dose of Osceola and a double dose of overtime for the Somerset boys basketball team last week. Due to postponements and other alterations to the schedule, the Spartans and Chieftains ended up meeting twice last week. While Osceola is tied for the lead in the Middle Border Conference and Somerset is tied at the bottom of the MBC standings, these were two extremely tight ballgames. So tight in fact, that both games went to overtime.