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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It's probably the shortest lineup you'll find in the area, but so far, the St. Croix Central boys basketball starting five has also been one of the most effective. The Panthers are 2-0 after posting a pair of Dunn-St. Croix Conference wins last week, over Colfax and Boyceville. It would be easy to give the Panthers nicknames like "The Smurfs," "Blue Darters" or "Blue Flames" because of their size, energy and the prominent blue in their jerseys. Central coach Mike Fern said that none of his starting five stands six feet tall. He should know. Two are his sons, Jared and Jeff.
The Somerset wrestling team didn't win a Middle Border Conference match last season. In one night, this year's Spartans showed that those memories are long gone. In the 2007-08 season opener, the Somerset wrestlers thoroughly dominated Durand on Thursday, winning 50-20. The Spartans are an extremely young team, with five freshmen on the roster. They also have a handful of upperclassmen who are out for wrestling for the first time this season. Durand won the first two matches on Thursday.
Three members of the Somerset High School football team that reached the WIAA state semifinals have been honored with all-state honors by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association. Seniors Burt Geurkink, Evan Kowalski and Tony Martin have earned all-state honors from the 2007 Middle Border Conference championship team. Geurkink achieves one of the rarest honors in high school football by being named to the all-state first team on offense and defense.
There are a wide range of changes for the New Richmond girls hockey team to start the 2007-08 season. The Tigers have a new coach, a new goaltender and an influx of young talent that makes this year's Tiger team one of the deepest in team history. Jake Hetzel takes over as head coach for the Tigers this season. Hetzel served as an assistant coach to Brian Olson the past two years. Josh Charland, who coached most of the Tigers when they played U-14 hockey, now becomes the assistant coach. Senior Elizabeth Nadeau becomes the goalie for the Tigers this season.
St. Croix Central senior Mark Shaver has signed on to continue his baseball career at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Shaver, the slender, hard-throwing right-hander, will join UMD after completing his senior season next spring. UMD is an NCAA Division 2 program. Shaver received offers from several other schools, including Mankato State and Winona State, and had been scouted hard by the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
The Colfax girls basketball team had to wonder if it was playing a team of "Energizer bunnies" during the season opening game at St. Croix Central last week. Colfax is the defending Dunn-St. Croix Conference champion while Central had one player on the court with significant varsity experience. What looked like a mismatch on paper was an outstanding first half of basketball. Central kept relentless pressure on Colfax and by halftime Colfax was able to eek out a 39-30 lead. In the second half Colfax was able to make Central's inexperience more of a factor.
As a Somerset High School student, Ali Breault would stop into the football office on an almost daily basis to watch Spartan football game films. Somerset coach Bruce Larson was struck by Breault's interest in football and her knowledge of the game. Larson decided to create a role for Breault with the 2006 Spartan team. Breault graduated last summer, but her role has continued, with Anna DuRand becoming the student assistant for the team during the 2007 season. Breault and DuRand became actively involved parts of the Somerset program. They could be found doing any number of roles.
Special Olympics has opened up the world to New Richmond's Caitlin Weiss. Weiss recently returned after competing in the 2007 Special Olympic World Summer Games, which were held in October in Shanghai in the People's Republic of China. Weiss was part of a Team USA women's basketball team in the World Games. They took fourth in the top level of women's basketball play, facing Greece, Russia and Australia in the Olympics. All the women on this Team USA are from Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Caitlin plays in the Stillwater Lumberjacks basketball program.
The hopes of reaching the WIAA State Football Championships for the fourth time in six years did not materialize for the Somerset football team. Playing in the state Division 4 semifinals on Saturday, the Spartans were beaten by Kettle Moraine Lutheran, 37-20, at Thom Field in Wausau. Somerset reached the state championship game in 2002, 2003 and 2005. The Spartans competed in Division 5 in each of those years.
Balancing owning a business and keeping up with her five kids was proving to be a mighty challenge for April Anez of April's Dance Studio. The solution became clear as she worked with her only employee of the dance business, Jenn Halle. After working together for more than three years, they decided to switch roles. The transfer of ownership was completed recently, with Halle taking ownership and Anez becoming the employee. The business has a new name, "Step It Up Dance Studio." The business will continue to operate at 118 Spring Street for at least one more year.