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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Jason Eckert wasn't actively looking to leave Colfax. He had three football programs in mind that he would ever consider leaving Colfax for: Eau Claire North, Eau Claire Memorial and New Richmond. Eckert had built a successful football program, winning the Dunn-St. Croix Conference title in 2006. He played high school ball at Menomonie, when Coach Joe LaBuda was just beginning to turn the Menomonie program into one of the elite programs in the state.
There will be a father-and-son team leading the New Richmond Millers this season. Former Millers manager Mike Stephens is coming out of retirement to join his son, current Millers manager Ryan Stephens, as the management team for the Millers in the 2008 adult baseball league season. Ryan took over as manager of the team in 2002 when his dad retired. Mike had managed the Millers from 1998-2001. They will split the management duties. Ryan's duties will be similar to a general manager's role, organizing the schedule, hiring umpires, arranging concessions and procuring players.
New Richmond has some highly loyal fans, but you'd be hard-pressed to see all the Tiger basketball games that Bud Anderson has watched this year. Eight of Anderson's 10 grandchildren are currently involved in Tiger sports. His oldest grandson, Eric, graduated in 2005 after competing in cross country, track and basketball. His youngest grandchild, is a year away from getting her start in sports. Anderson's roots run deep in Tiger sports. He was a starter on the Tiger boys basketball team in the 1953 and 1954 seasons.
Somerset's Jeff Burke was honored with all-state status for the second straight year when the Wisconsin Hockey Coaches Association (WHCA) All-State Team was announced over the weekend. New Richmond assistant hockey coach Ryan Unger also was honored over the weekend. Unger was named as the WHCA District 1 Assistant Coach of the Year. Burke was selected as an honorable mention all-state defenseman. He is the Spartans' all-time leading scorer among defensemen, with 79 points. He had 31 goals and 48 assists in his career. Burke's best season was his junior year.
New Richmond's girls thought they had an effective plan to compete with Amery in the Division 2 basketball regional tournament opening round game last Tuesday. But when the Tigers didn't score in the first nine minutes of the game, spotting Amery a 17-point lead, that plan went out the window. The Tigers kept trying to battle back, but were only once able to get Amery's lead down to single figures. The game was competitive, until Amery scored the final 11 points of the night to inflate the final margin to 59-36. The Tigers finish the season with a 7-14 record.
After winning the Middle Border Conference championship, the Somerset girls basketball team was hoping to make a deep run into the WIAA tournaments. They didn't count on an incredible effort from Amery's Taylor Luke upending their plans. Amery was able to beat Somerset 70-67 in overtime. Luke lit up the Spartans for 41 points last Thursday, but that's only half of the story. Somerset made an incredible comeback in the fourth quarter of this game to send the game into overtime. The Spartans trailed by 16 points early in the fourth quarter. The sluggish Spartans then caught fire.
Through the "Valley Reads" program, a group of nine Somerset Elementary School fourth graders were able to do an in-depth study of the book "Hana's Suitcase." The Valley Reads program is part of the ArtReach Alliance. The Alliance is a non-profit organization that involves numerous partners from St. Croix and Washington counties. Through Valley Reads, students get the opportunity to read and discuss books. The Somerset Elementary literary circle was led by Anastasia Shartin, the Visual Arts Director at the Phipps Center in Hudson.
Everything about the 2007-08 New Richmond boys basketball season went about as well as the Tigers could have hoped. Except for the ending. The Tigers' season came to a crushing end on Saturday night in the regional championship game at Rice Lake. Spooner's quickness and aggressiveness caught the Tigers off guard and the Tigers were never able to overcome the first half deficit Spooner built up, losing 55-37. The regional championship was the only goal that eluded the Tigers this season.
Tom Volkert was good enough to win 38 matches this season and wrestle his way to the WIAA Division 1 State Wrestling Championships. The New Richmond High School junior found out there is a big step between being good in western Wisconsin and being able to compete for a Division 1 state championship. It didn't help that Volkert was wrestling in one of the most talented brackets in the entire 2008 state tournament.
Somerset senior Tony Martin wrapped up his improbable wrestling season by earning one win in the 2008 WIAA State Wrestling Championships. Martin, who entered the season with very little wrestling experience, became a voracious scholar of the sport. That led to a rapid improvement and eventually Martin's berth in the state tournament. Martin took a 25-7 record into the state tournament. In his first round he faced Waupaca senior Dustin Stichman, who brought a 40-3 record into the state meet. This was another case where Martin's hunger for knowledge led to his success.