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 championships have become a tradition for the Somerset football team. The Spartans earned their fifth Middle Border Conference championship in the past six years when they upended previously unbeaten Baldwin-Woodville by a 22-14 score last Thursday. A conference championship appeared to be a remote possibility when the Spartans started the season with three losses. Under the team's veteran coaching staff, the Spartans abruptly and completely turned their season around.
The New Richmond boys soccer team upset River Falls in a shootout in the opening round of WIAA Division 1 regional tournament play on Thursday. This is the first win in WIAA tournament play for the Tigers since they became a varsity team. That win put the Tigers into the regional finals against number one seed Hudson on Saturday. The Raiders showed why they were the top seed in the area, overwhelming the Tigers 5-0. Eau Claire Memorial topped Eau Claire North in the other regional final game in Hudson on Saturday.
Eight seconds. That's how much time was left on the clock when the New Richmond football team saw its hope of reaching the 2008 WIAA State Playoffs snuffed out by the Amery Warriors last Thursday. New Richmond scored five minutes into Thursday's game and the Tigers led the rest of the night, until the fateful final drive. Amery drove 93 yards in the final three minutes, scoring with eight seconds left on the clock, to beat the Tigers 25-20. The Tigers and Warriors finish the season with 3-4 records in the Middle Border Conference.
The St. Croix Central football team is just where it wants to be as it enters the 2008 WIAA State Football Playoffs. The Panthers finished the regular season with an impressive 28-6 win over Elk Mound last Thursday. This was a battle for second place in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference, but it really was a one-sided contest. Central was able to move the ball at will against the Mounders and Central's defense again was the controlling factor in the game. Central ends the regular season with a 7-2 record.
The New Richmond volleyball team was able to pull off one upset in WIAA Division 2 tournament play, but they couldn't get a second upset following another long road trip. The Tigers were seeded sixth in a tough Division 2 tournament bracket. Their first match was at Ashland last Tuesday, where they faced the third-seeded Oredockers. The Tigers played one of their most complete matches of the season in scoring a 20-25, 25-19, 25-23, 25-23 win in Ashland. The win meant the Tigers faced another long road trip.
There will be a number of children in our area who will sleep easier thanks to the efforts of students at the Somerset Middle School. To be exact, 156 children. That's because Middle School students spent most of their morning on Oct. 10 making 156 blankets. These blankets will be donated to hospitals in New Richmond, Hudson, Osceola and Stillwater, to the CRA shelter in Balsam Lake, Turning Point in River Falls and Grace Place in Somerset.
When the Somerset football team stood at 0-3, most fans lost hope that the Spartans would be able to repeat as Middle Border Conference champions. But the Spartans kept the faith. Since that 0-3 start the Spartans have reeled off five straight wins. And this Thursday the Spartans will be playing for the conference championship. The Spartans, now 5-3, will play at home on Thursday against undefeated Baldwin-Woodville.
The New Richmond varsity football team plays its most meaningful game since 2002 when the Tigers play at Amery on Thursday. If the Tigers win at Amery, they will qualify for the WIAA State Football Playoffs for the first time since that year. The Tigers moved into position to get in the playoffs by winning at Ellsworth last Friday by a 34-20 score. The win at Ellsworth is the third of the season for the Tigers, raising the team's Middle Border Conference record to 3-3.
Having one of their senior leaders sidelined couldn't hold back the New Richmond girls cross country team. The Tiger girls repeated as Middle Border Conference champions, finishing 12 points ahead of Ellsworth for the 2008 girls title. New Richmond's boys also came through with one of their finest performances of the season to take second place in last Thursday's boys conference meet. The Tiger girls were running without senior Hannah Utzman. Utzman and classmate McKenzie Kelly have been the leaders of Tigers since their freshman year.
The New Richmond boys soccer team has gotten better every year since it became a varsity program. The Tigers reached new heights this season by winning their first conference championship. The Tigers clinched the 2008 Northwest Wisconsin Boys Soccer Conference last Tuesday with a 2-0 win over Hayward. On Thursday the Tigers completed conference play with a 2-0 win over Spooner. This gives the Tigers an 11-1 final record in conference play. The win over Hayward was one of the best performances of the season by the Tigers.