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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There was good news for all three local wrestling programs in the WIAA sectional tournaments that were held on Saturday. New Richmond has two wrestlers who qualified for state during the WIAA Division 1 sectional tournament in Marshfield on Saturday. Somerset and St. Croix Central each had three wrestlers advance from the Amery Division 2 sectional meet. The 2011 WIAA State Individual Wrestling Championships will be held on Thursday through Saturday at the Kohl Center in Madison. New Richmond The Tigers will be represented at state by senior Joel Neumann and freshman Shane Blackman.
Thursday's sports action was fast and furious, with hockey playoffs and Middle Border Conference basketball leaders dominating the action. Tiger boys hockey In the WIAA boys hockey regional finals, the New Richmond Tigers advanced with a 4-0 win over Amery. The Tigers will play at home on Tuesday in the sectional semifinals, facing Menomonie. Parker Olson scored the only goal of the first period on Thursday, slapping home the rebound off a Tyler Montgomery shot 3:06 into the game. In the second period the Tigers got goals from Dom Peterson, Nate Jones and Zach Kier.
Talk about a team peaking for the playoffs. The New Richmond boys hockey team hosted a four-team tournament this weekend, facing two state-ranked opponents from Milwaukee Marquette and Monona Grove. The Tigers demolished both of the state-ranked teams, beating Monona Grove 7-1 on Friday and Marquette on Saturday 5-0. The playoffs begin for the Tigers on Thursday. They will play at home at 7 p.m., facing the winner of Tuesday's game between Amery and Spooner.
Talk about a turn of events. The New Richmond boys basketball team entered last week with a one-game lead in the Middle Border Conference. By the end of the week, the Tigers had locked up a share of their fourth straight MBC championship. How did it all come about? The Tiger boys took care of business on their end. The offensive production picked up and the Tigers were able to score wins over Prescott and Ellsworth. The Tigers beat Prescott 70-56, before topping Ellsworth 58-46. Baldwin-Woodville, which began last week one game behind the Tigers, did not take care of business.
New Richmond's first experience hosting a Division 1 regional wrestling tournament can largely be viewed as a success. Eleven of the 13 Tigers who wrestled in Saturday's regional meet have advanced to the sectional level. And the reviews of the space and amenities of the New Richmond High School gym were all positive from the tournament. The Tigers took second place in the team competition at the regional tournament, finishing just ahead of such area powers as Chippewa Falls and River Falls. Hudson was the regional champion. Now the work gets much, much tougher for the Tigers.
Saturday's WIAA Division 2 regional tournament in Somerset was a nearly perfect day for the home team. The Spartans are hoping they can say the same about this Saturday's WIAA Division 2 sectional tournament, which will be held in Amery. Five Somerset wrestlers advanced through the regional tournament. Three of the Spartans, juniors Austin Bushinger and Haydon Dvorak and sophomore Gabe Flandrick, are regional champions.
Somerset's girls basketball team was able to get even with Ellsworth last Thursday. Ellsworth had inflicted Somerset's only Middle Border Conference loss of the season. The Spartans made sure it didn't happen a second time, beating the Panthers 55-47. The win is the ninth straight for the Spartans, raising their record to 13-3. They've won their past seven MBC games. Ellsworth was the only team to beat Somerset in the first half of the MBC schedule, so the Spartans were fully aware of Ellsworth's ability.
There are things the New Richmond girls hockey team wants to prove in the WIAA playoffs. The playoffs start this Thursday, with the Tigers playing at Hayward at 7 p.m. The Tigers felt they got shorted in the seeding process, receiving the seventh seed in the sectional tournament bracket. Tiger coach Emily Howlett said the team feels the best way to prove that it was shorted is by winning in the playoffs. The Tigers already took one step toward proving they deserved a higher seed when they defeated Hudson last Tuesday, 4-3.
Winning three straight games to end the regular season has raised the Somerset hockey team to the .500 level. If the Spartans want to keep adding to their win streak, they will have to do it without three seniors. Three of the team's seniors were removed from the team Saturday morning, following an athletic code violation Friday night. The Spartans had to travel to Kasson, Minn. on Saturday after learning the three seniors were done for the season.
Just when it appeared the New Richmond girls basketball team was ready to break out of its losing streak, illness struck the team. On Thursday the Tigers played at Baldwin-Woodville, an opponent New Richmond had beaten in the first round of Middle Border Conference play. Unfortunately, a wave of illness swept through the Tigers last week. One-third of the varsity and JV players missed the practice last Wednesday because they were sick.