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 goal for the first two games of the 2006 season was to get the Somerset football team ready for the Middle Border Conference schedule. With the improvement the Spartans made between their first and second non-conference games, they sure look prepared for Friday's start to the MBC season. The Spartans will open their conference season with a game at Baldwin-Woodville at 7 p.m. on Friday. The Spartans are coming off a 30-18 win over Delano, Minn. last Thursday, in their second non-conference game.
Back-to-back strong performances to start the 2006 season put the New Richmond football team in a good position as the Tigers start their Middle Border Conference schedule this Friday. The Tigers play their MBC opener at 7 p.m. on Friday, when they play at Prescott. New Richmond's record stands at 1-1 after the two pre-season games.
The days of the New Richmond boys soccer team playing JV teams from more seasoned programs may be over. Last Tuesday the New Richmond boys faced the Eau Claire North JV team and muzzled the Huskies 8-0. Last year the Tigers faced the North JV team twice, winning once 2-1 and tying 1-1 in the other contest. Tiger coach Pete Melloy said this shows that New Richmond's team is significantly improved and is ready to face more challenging competition. "My expectations are a lot higher this year," Melloy said.
Running on pavement, golf courses and dusty trails can get monotonous for high school cross country runners. The River Falls Extreme Meet will never be called monotonous. The New Richmond and Somerset cross country teams competed at River Falls last Thursday. This is a meet where runners cross through waist-deep streams, climb steep muddy embankments, climb over a large downed tree and run along a course that rarely has even footing. Because of the obstacles, loose records on times and places are kept in the meet.
The New Richmond girls tennis team returned to the ranks of the winners in a pair of Middle Border Conference matches last week. These wins were a nice return to form for the Tigers after they lost their first MBC match of the season to Unity. The Tigers scored a 5-2 win over Mondovi last Tuesday on the NRHS courts. The Tigers then played at Bloomer on Thursday, where they were 6-1 victors. Mondovi had lost to Unity by the identical 4-3 score that New Richmond had lost to the Eagles, so the Tigers knew they'd be tested in Tuesday's match.
Last year the River Falls team was one of the best that the New Richmond boys soccer team faced. So when the New Richmond boys opened their 2006 soccer season at River Falls, they knew it would be a major challenge. River Falls got an early jump and was able to use that advantage for a 6-2 win over the Tigers. River Falls scored twice in the first 15 minutes of the game. "River Falls has a lot of speed up front," said Tiger coach Pete Melloy. The Wildcats used that speed to jump out to a 2-0 lead. The Tigers then came back to tie the score.
There have been enough upsets in the rivalry between Somerset and St. Croix Central in different sports in recent years that records and reputations carry little weight when teams from these schools meet. That was the case again Monday night when the volleyball squads from Somerset and Central got together. Somerset is considered among the favorites in the Middle Border Conference this season, while Central is hoping to turn around its fortunes after finishing last in the Dunn-St.
The clash between the Somerset and Hudson football teams Friday was one of the most talked about pre-season games in many years. And it was worth every bit of that talk too. This was a free-wheeling offensive game that came down to the final four seconds, when Hudson's Kirk Krumrei kicked a 22-yard field goal to give the Raiders a 39-36 win over the Spartans. The game had the setting for high drama. Could Somerset, the state runner-up in Division 5 last year, go nose-to-nose with Hudson, a school with four times the student population?
The New Richmond football team put the past in the past with an impressive 14-7 win over River Falls in the 2006 season opener for both teams. The Tigers are trying to prove they are a solid team in 2006 and this game should go a long way toward providing that proof. The Tigers outgained River Falls on the ground and through the air. The Tigers didn't commit a turnover while taking the ball away from the Wildcats twice. One of those turnovers was an early turning point in the game. After an early exchange of possessions, the Tigers had River Falls backed up deep in its own territory.
The challenges will continue to elevate for the New Richmond girls tennis team. The Tigers played in their first tournament of the 2006 season on Saturday, when they took fourth place among eight teams at a tournament played in Altoona. With three girls back from last year's starting lineup, most of the girls hadn't experienced a tournament of this length and intensity.