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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You couldn't ask for a better start to the season than the one the Somerset baseball team put together last week. The Spartans went 3-0 in their opening games, outscoring their opponents 27-5 in the three wins. The season began for the Spartans with a 5-3 win over St. Croix Central last Thursday. The Spartans were back in action on Friday, sweeping a double-header with Plum City. Both of Friday's games ended in 11-1 scores. Somerset's top pitchers are sophomores, but they didn't look like sophomores in mowing down batters last week.
Playing football in Somerset has developed some major perks. Somerset seniors Darrin Emmeck and Bryan Witzmann got to play for the United States team in the second annual Global Challenge Bowl on March 21. The game featured Team Stars and Stripes facing the Japanese under-19 Junior National Team at Kawasaki Stadium in the Tokyo suburb of Kawasaki. In each of the two years of this global football showcase, Somerset has had two players on the United States team.
Somerset High School students are becoming filmmakers. The public can see their creations during a mini-film festival on April 15 at the high school. The film festival is the first major event put together by the rejuvenated STAND (Students Taking Action in a New Direction) group at the high school.
Jon Lucivansky has been climbing up the ranks of football officiating since 1982. He has now reached the summit. Lucivansky has been hired by the National Football League to become one of the 120 officials who preside over NFL games each Sunday during the pro football season. Lucivansky, 46, serves as associate principal at New Richmond High School on weekdays. On weekends, he has been a highly regarded football and basketball official for many years. For the past seven years, Lucivansky has served as a football official for the Big Ten Conference.
Somerset girls track coach Dave Praschak wasn't sure he should enter his team in the Northern Badger Indoor Track Invitational at UW-Stout on Saturday because he knew the Spartans would be competing in the large school division. Praschak was as surprised as anyone when the Spartans brought home the championship from the 2009 season-opening meet on Saturday. "That was an unexpected surprise," Praschak said. "Our intent wasn't to win. We were there for a workout." Many of the Spartans maintained a steady workout schedule in the off-season.
By finishing in the upper half of the boys and girls divisions of the Northern Badger Invitational Indoor Track Meet on Saturday, you can tag the New Richmond track teams as ready to roll for the 2009 season. The Tigers finished sixth among 17 teams in both halves of the large school portion of the meet. The Tiger boys are coming off a 2008 season where they won the Middle Border Conference championship. The Tiger girls placed third at last year's MBC meet. New Richmond's boys return a strong group of veteran athletes.
It's called "Project Lead The Way." For Somerset High School students, it could lead them to a career in engineering related fields. The Somerset School District recently received a $30,000 grant from the Kern Family Foundation.
After 17 years of coaching in the Somerset girls basketball system, Spartan varsity coach Bill Powers announced his retirement from that position last week. Powers will continue to serve as the Spartans boys and girls golf coach and will continue teaching at Somerset High School. In his first two seasons after taking over the Spartan varsity team, Powers' teams had a record of 1-40. Fortunes have changed considerably since then. In the past five years Powers' teams have an 81-33 record.
Ayla Mitchell: NCAA national champion. New Richmond's Ayla Mitchell added another chapter to her incredible running career when she won the national championship in the mile run at the NCAA Division 3 Indoor National Track Championships on Saturday. Mitchell competes for UW-Oshkosh. She won the national championship in the mile run with a time of 4:45.80. Her title marked the 23rd national title in an individual event in school history. Mitchell was one of five Titan women competing at the NCAA national indoor meet over the weekend.
The Somerset boys basketball team gained a large measure of respect, and self respect, with its performance in the opening round of the WIAA Division 2 regional tournament last Tuesday. Very few people gave the seventh seeded Spartans any chance of winning against Middle Border Conference co-champion New Richmond. The Spartans, underdogs as they were, never gave up. They cut New Richmond's margin to three points with 22 seconds left in the game.