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 track teams both made a substantial impact in a four-team meet at the UW-River Falls indoor facility last Thursday. The Spartan girls earned the victory in the meet and Somerset's boys took second place in last Thursday's meet. Competing against Osceola, River Falls and Baldwin-Woodville, the Spartan girls didn't think they'd performed that well until the final results were announced. "I was shocked we won," said Spartan girls coach Dave Praschak. The girls team has several standout athletes and the team is quickly building depth.
Beginning the Dunn-St. Croix Conference schedule seemed to snap the St. Croix Central baseball team back to attention. The Panthers opened their season on Saturday, playing lethargically in a 6-2 loss to Luck. When the Panthers opened Dunn-St. Croix Conference play on Monday against Colfax, they looked like a completely different team. The Panthers put together a spirited effort and put away the Vikings 13-3 in six innings. Mark Shaver and Nick Nygaard combined to pitch a two-hitter.
Somerset High School Principal Shawn Madden was hoping that the Somerset Board of Education could make an exception to allow his two children to enter the Somerset schools through open enrollment. The Somerset School Board will meet at 7 p.m. on Monday to hold a special meeting on open enrollment.
If anyone was looking for a sectional track meet atmosphere early in the season, the All-American Invite at UW-River Falls was the place to be on Saturday. With a number of top teams from the Twin Cities area and many of the best teams in western Wisconsin, this meet offered a glimpse of who many of the top athletes will be at the end of the 2008 season. New Richmond and Somerset both took part in the meet.
Every high school player has dreams that football will take them somewhere. Few have the dream that football will take them to Japan. Somerset High School football players Burt Geurkink and Tony Martin had the football opportunity of a lifetime when they played for Team USA in the Global Challenge Bowl-Kawasaki 2008 in Kawasaki, Japan on March 22. Team USA consisted of 40 top high school football players from around the United States. They faced the Japanese National Junior U-19 Team. The Japanese team was able to score a 24-14 victory in the game.
Erik Olson will be coaching the boys track team at Somerset High School this spring. But don't confuse him with Eric Olson, the boys basketball varsity coach. Erik Olson teaches freshman science classes at SHS, while Eric Olson is the technology education teacher at the High School. Erik Olson is in his second year of teaching in Somerset. He said the students quickly grasped the situation that there were two Olsons on the teaching staff with the same first name and there have been very few problems.
Jim Cook often showed a tough exterior. But he cared deeply for his students and his hometown. Cook, who was a top Somerset High School athlete, and then a long-time coach and teacher, died on March 25 after a long battle with cancer. He was 63 years old. Cook was an industrial arts teacher in Somerset from 1975-88. During that time he coached wrestling, track and football. He also helped to get an athletic director position created at Somerset High School. Cook was a teacher and coach who wasn't always popular with administration.
When Somerset Middle School custodians Jim Paquin, Sharon Swanson and Arvid "Ozzie" Larson retire in June, they will take more than 80 years of experience in maintaining the Somerset schools with them. The trio agreed to collectively retire this year, allowing the School District to hire a cleaning service to handle the custodial duties in the building. Maintenance Experts, which currently handles the cleaning in the Elementary School and High School, will take over those duties in June. Maintenance supervisors Don Haines and Chad Bjerke will remain in their roles with the District.
It's one of the hardest decisions taxpayers in the Somerset School District have collectively had to face. Do they vote with their hearts, or with their wallets? When Somerset voters go to the ballot box next Tuesday, they will be asked to vote on a $35,434,000 school referendum that would pay for a new high school, plus additions and upgrades around the District campus. The referendum comes at a difficult time for local taxpayers.
It seems that things are constantly changing in education, but one thing that has rarely changed is the school desks that students sit at day after day. You may soon see changes in school desks. The fifth grade students at the Somerset Middle School will be trying a new desk that could become a new standard for school desks. The desks are made by Sunway Inc. of Centuria.