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 Somerset boys hockey team advanced in the opening round of the WIAA playoffs on Tuesday night, but the Somerset wrestling team was defeated at the WIAA Division 2 team sectional tournament. There was also plenty of boys basketball action on Tuesday, with New Richmond losing to Ellsworth and St. Croix Central defeating Somerset.
For a team as young as the St. Croix Central wrestling squad, advancing three wrestlers to the sectional level amounts to a darn good result from the WIAA regional tournament. The Panthers hosted the WIAA Division 2 regional tournament on Saturday, Feb. 10. They were able to advance junior Ryan Larson, along with senior Frank Holter and freshman Tadan Holzer as second place finishers in the regional meet. The Panthers placed fifth among the six teams in the team finish at Saturday's meet.
The undisputed champion of the Middle Border Conference is the St. Croix Central girls basketball team.
For the first time in 25 years, the Somerset wrestling team won a WIAA regional championship. And the Spartans needed every possible point to clinch the Division 2 regional title at St. Croix Central on Saturday. The Spartans won the championship with 206 points, finishing one point ahead of Osceola. The title wasn't assured until junior Nick Bushinger earned a win in the 160-pound second place match, Somerset's final match of the tournament.
A return to a defensive emphasis produced one of the stronger performances of the second half of the season for the Somerset boys hockey team Friday, Feb. 9. The Spartans (5-19) hosted the La Crosse Aquinas/Holmen cooperative team that has an 18-6 record. The Spartans went to a more defensive approach and it paid off. The Avalanche didn't score until there were three seconds left in the first period. The Avalanche added single goals in the second and third periods to defeat the Spartans 3-0.
Girls hockey in western Wisconsin is a vastly underrated sport. Our area has been producing some of the best teams in the state for more than a decade. The top three ranked teams in the state all reside in Sectional 1. Undefeated Hudson is the top-ranked team in the state, with Eau Claire and St. Croix Valley being the second and third ranked teams. All three are highly skilled teams that possess standout players, along with deep talent pools. Any of the three teams would represent the section admirably at the state tournament.
Sectional 1 in the WIAA boys hockey tournament bracket is annually one of the best in the state. The battle to be champion of the section should again be an epic battle, with Hudson, Superior and New Richmond all fielding top quality teams. Section 1 has put a team in the state finals each of the past three years. Hudson won the title in 2017 after taking second place in 2016. Superior won the state championship in 2015. There's every reason to believe that whichever team advances out of the sectional this winter again has a great chance of reaching the state title game.
Saturday was a milestone day for the Somerset wrestling team. The Spartans won the WIAA Division 2 regional championship, doing it by the narrowest of possible margins at the Division 2 meet held at St. Croix Central on Saturday. Somerset finished with a team score of 206 to win the regional title, finishing one point ahead of Osceola, which had 205. Amery took third iwth 153 points. St. Croix Central was fifth with 138 points.
The New Richmond wrestling team has advanced nine wrestlers through to the WIAA Division 1 sectional tournament.
Many of the local youth hockey teams are competing to go to state tournaments. Here is a listing of the local teams that have been reported as state tournament qualifiers thus far. More information will be added on The News website ( www.newrichmond-news.com ) as more state qualifiers are reported and team photos will be included there. U14 girls