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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Osceola holds the Middle Border Conference golf lead, with Amery, New Richmond and Somerset all trying to catch the Chieftains in the final week of the MBC season. The final MBC quad meets will be played this week. New Richmond will host one quad on Thursday, while Somerset will play at Durand in the other quad on Friday. That will lead into the 2005 MBC golf tournament, which will be played at Osceola's Krooked Kreek Golf Course next Monday. After Monday's action, Osceola leads the conference with 30 team points.
If you love watching gifted athletes performing in almost idyllic conditions, there was no place better to be last Friday than watching the New Richmond Relays. The annual track invitational brought together seven of the Middle Border Conference teams, plus tough opposition like River Falls, Menomonie and Rice Lake. It seemed that every race had a thrilling finish. And with the glorious weather, a huge crowd provided deafening noise in the home stretch to spur on the athletes. "That was one of the most fun track meets I've ever been to," said Tiger boys coach Roger Reuvers.
The scenario that New Richmond boys tennis coach Mark Hay had worked up didn't quite pan out. Hay was hoping the Tigers could knock off Eau Claire Regis last Tuesday, then have Regis beat Baldwin-Woodville last Thursday, leaving the three teams in a tie for the Middle Border Conference dual meet championship. Regis did beat Baldwin-Woodville, but Regis also beat New Richmond last Tuesday, meaning the Ramblers finish as MBC champions with a 5-0 record. New Richmond ends up third in the MBC regular season with a 3-2 mark.
When the Somerset softball team has a defensive meltdown, it is a complete disaster. But give the Spartans credit. They melted down against Ellsworth on Monday, giving up seven runs in the fourth inning. The Spartans then bounced back with eight runs, retaking the lead in the bottom of the inning and holding on for a 12-7 win over the Panthers. The meltdown was out of character for the Spartans, who otherwise played a very strong game in the field. An example of the Spartans' luck in that inning was a grounder to shortstop Roxy Martin.
There are no salary caps, or anything in place to equalize the talent in the Middle Border Conference boys golf race. But when seven of the eight MBC teams finished within 11 strokes of each other at the MBC 8-team match held at Bristol Ridge in Somerset last Thursday, it shows that there is a good balance of talent around the conference this season. Osceola remains the team that everyone is trying to catch. The Chieftains won the match with a 166 score.
The young Durand boys tennis team provided little competition for New Richmond's boys last Thursday. The Tigers travelled to Durand and made the trip home with a 7-0 win. This win raises their Middle Border Conference record to 2-1. The most drama for the Tigers surrounded whether number two singles player Jake Kleiner would be able to play. Kleiner had sprained an ankle the previous weekend. Coach Mark Hay taped Kleiner's ankle during the bus trip and Kleiner decided he could go. And did he ever go.
There was tight competition between St. Croix Central and Somerset for the team titles at the St. Croix Central track quad meet held last Thursday. With conditions more like June than mid-April, it was fantastic early season conditions for track. And the Panthers had plenty of reason to be pleased, winning both team events by narrow margins over Somerset. The Central boys were led by seniors Jordan Kooiman and Mark Sanders, who were both double winners.
The Wisconsin Fire U-16 hockey team went 2-2 in the USA Hockey U-16 National Tournament, played in Bensenville, Ill. on March 30-April 3. The Wisconsin Fire junior hockey program is based out of Somerset. To qualify for Nationals, the Fire team had to win state and regional tournaments. The state championship by the U-16 team is the first state championship won by a Fire team. The Fire has been in existence since 2000. Three local players are members of the U-16 team that qualified for nationals.
The St. Croix Central track teams couldn't have asked for much more from their season-opening meet last Thursday. The meet turned into a double-victory for the Panther teams. They both scored wins over Prescott, Plum City and Spring Valley in the meet. The Panther boys finished with a 16-point margin over second place Prescott. Central's girls had a 25-point margin over second place Prescott. Both teams showed a nice mix of talent, getting contributions from seniors through freshmen. The girls team got wins on the track and in the field events.
With a new coach and three players with varsity experience in the lineup, the New Richmond boys tennis team started the 2005 season needing some experience. That's what they got in their opener, narrowly losing to River Falls 4-3 on the Tigers' courts last Thursday. This year's Tigers are coached by Mark Hay, who takes over after the resignation of Mike Montello. Hay said he feels confident that Tigers are on the right track for the season.