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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Coaches use analogies that no one player is as strong as a team's combined abilities. Right now, the Somerset volleyball team is a living model of that statement. The Spartans continue to play outstanding team ball, and it has carried them into a share of the Middle Border Conference lead. Last Thursday the Spartans faced Ellsworth, the only team that had not lost in MBC play. Somerset convincingly delivered Ellsworth's first loss, setting back the Panthers 25-19, 18-25, 25-22, 25-18. Somerset, Ellsworth and Osceola are all tied at the top of the MBC with 4-1 records.
A change in the alignment of the serve receive helped the New Richmond volleyball team put together one of its best weeks of the season last week. Last Thursday the New Richmond volleyball team earned its first win in the Middle Border Conference this season, sweeping Baldwin-Woodville in three games. The Tigers followed that up with a prolonged run of solid play on Saturday, where they reached the championship game in the Shell Lake Invitational. The win over Baldwin-Woodville came in front of a Parents Night crowd for the Tigers and they gave the fans a show worth remembering.
The New Richmond girls tennis team again showed how far it has grown this season, nearly taking the team championship in the 2006 Middle Border Conference Tournament played last Tuesday. The Tigers earned conference championships at one doubles and three doubles and New Richmond finished second in the team standings, one point behind Osceola. "This was supposed to be a young, inexperienced team," said Tiger coach Teresa Kvam. "I was more than pleased with their play." Seniors Steph Anderson and Molly O'Flanagan were the top seed at one doubles and they played like it.
It was a day of discovery for the St. Croix Central cross country team last Tuesday. The Panthers discovered that they are much more of a force than most people, including themselves, may have thought at the beginning of the season. This comes after the Central boys won the championship in the 2006 Ellsworth Invitational and the Panther girls took third place at Ellsworth. "That was a great win," said first year Central coach Bill Emery. "The team is starting to see its great potential.
The New Richmond boys soccer team continues to be nearly unbeatable on their home field. On Monday the Tigers swarmed all over Rice Lake, beating the Warriors 4-1. Last Tuesday the Tigers scored another key home field win, beating Hayward 4-2. The only loss of the week for the Tigers came last Thursday, when they were beaten at Cumberland 4-1. It took the Tigers a couple minutes to get rolling in Monday's win, but once the Tigers found their legs, they controlled most of the action in the game. The Tigers scored early in the first half.
The wins, and the injuries, continue to mount for the Somerset football team. The Spartans climbed to 3-0 in the Middle Border Conference on Friday, holding off two late charges from Durand to score a 22-18 win in Somerset's Homecoming game. Twice in Friday's fourth quarter it looked like Durand was driving for the go-ahead score, but each time Somerset's defense came up with a big play to end the threat. Early in the fourth quarter Durand went on a long drive, taking up more than six minutes with their runs behind an unbalanced line that was like a moving wall of blockers.
There was very little difference between the two teams in Friday's football game between New Richmond and Amery. New Richmond had more total offense, forced more turnovers and committed fewer penalties. But it was Amery that was able to come up with more big plays, allowing the Warriors to edge the Tigers 26-19 in the 2006 New Richmond Homecoming game. Amery is now 5-0 for the season and 3-0 in the Middle Border Conference. New Richmond is 2-3 with a 1-2 conference record. The Tigers led twice in the game.
Pack running continued to be the focus of the New Richmond cross country team as the Tigers ran in the Hudson Invitational last Tuesday. The Tiger boys tied for fourth in the meet with Hastings in a highly competitive meet. The Tiger girls did not field a full varsity team, with one runner competing in the freshman race. Coach Beth Kelly had all four of the Tiger girls run the first mile of the race together.
The battle between the New Richmond and Osceola girls tennis teams in the final showdown for the Middle Border Conference title was everything you'd want from a title battle. This dual went down to the final individual match, with Osceola winning, to give the Chieftains a 4-3 team victory. This gave Osceola a perfect record in MBC duals this season, while New Richmond finishes in second place in the conference standings with two losses. These are two drastically different teams.
Cold, wet conditions didn't seem to bother the New Richmond boys tennis team last Thursday. The Tigers were able to put up plenty of offensive pressure against Eau Claire North and they were able to finish off those scoring chances, winning 4-1. Leading scorer Brian Figueroa led the Tigers with three goals in the game. Jordan Anderson also put one shot in the net in the first half of the game. Tiger coach Pete Melloy said the team played well in the game, "but we're still a work in progress," he said. The Tiger lineup was back at full strength last week.