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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The second straight hat trick from junior defenseman Jeff Burke led the Somerset hockey team to a 6-0 win at Baldwin-Woodville last Thursday. The win raises Somerset's record in Middle Border Conference games to 2-2 this season. For two periods this was a very competitive hockey game. The Spartans scored once in the first period, when Burke scored on the power play. He also scored early in the second period. The second quarter brought some high velocity hockey. The Spartans put 19 shots on goal, but B-W goalie Mike Olson was able to stop 18 of them.
In another show of the strength of the 2006-07 New Richmond wrestling team, the Tigers earned the championship in the 2007 New Richmond Invitational on Saturday. This is the first NRI championship for the Tigers since the 2002 season. Three Tigers earned individual championships in the tournament. Senior Israel Neumann continued his undefeated season by winning the title at 189 pounds. Junior Justin Eley took the 112-pound championship.
The New Richmond boys basketball team has now won four straight games, thanks to a pair of strong finishes last week. Last Friday the Tigers improved their record in the Middle Border Conference to 3-1 by overcoming an eight-point deficit to win at Amery, 53-49. Last Tuesday the Tigers also pulled one out in the final minutes, beating Eau Claire North 36-34. The Tigers met a fierce opponent at Amery. This was the first game that Amery had all its players available after athletic code violations forced several players out of the lineup.
In the first half of last Friday's game, Somerset's defense proved to be a worthy adversary for Durand. In the third quarter, Somerset's offense was able to go toe-to-toe with the high-scoring Panthers. But in the fourth quarter, Durand was able to pull ahead enough to take a 70-59 victory. There were two brief pieces of the game that proved to be Somerset's undoing. The first came in the final 20 seconds of the first half. The Spartans trailed 24-22 and were holding the ball for a final shot.
The girls basketball teams from Somerset and Osceola are similar in many ways. In the first meeting between the two rivals, Somerset's girls showed they were just a bit better in several of the ways where the teams are similar. Those differences were enough to carry the Spartans to a 51-45 win in Osceola last Thursday. With the wins, the Spartans stand alone in second place in the Middle Border Conference, with one loss. Durand stands alone at the top of the MBC. Somerset and Osceola are both teams that usually play the full-court game well.
Many of LeRoy "Lee" Meyer's closest friends did not know that he served in the Vietnam War. And of those who did know, most had never heard him speak of the nearly nine months that he spent in Vietnam, at the height of the Vietnam War. It was met by almost universal surprise by everyone who knows Meyer that he wrote a book on his experiences in the Vietnam War. Meyer chose to keep the book directly focused on the events he experienced as part of the Black Lion Infantry Division.
Somerset's Mitch Grahovac was one of the surprises of the 2006 Northern Badger Wrestling Invitational, beating three strong opponents to advance to the championship match at 140 pounds. The Spartans competed in the 2006 Northern Badger last Thursday and Friday, which was held at River Falls High School. Grahovac was beaten by Cody Capra of Cumberland in the 140-pound championship match, but you can bet that Grahovac had a good scouting report on the match.
New Richmond's Israel Neumann earned the 189-pound championship as the Tigers performed well in the 2006 Bi-State Classic Wrestling Tournament, held at UW-La Crosse. There were 54 teams competing in this year's Bi-State and it was one of the deepest fields ever at the tournament. Neumann's win at 189 pounds is an example. There were 14 wrestlers in the bracket who started the tournament with one loss or less. Neumann was seeded first in the 189-pound bracket, based upon his third place finish there in last year's Bi-State. Neumann, now 21-0, pinned his way to the semifinals.
Five St. Croix Central wrestlers were able to place among the top 12 wrestlers in their weight classes in the 2006 Northern Badger Wrestling Invitational, held last Thursday and Friday at River Falls High School. Senior Curtis Hinkel was the top finisher for the Panthers, placing fourth at 125 pounds in his first action of the season.
Alex Sullivan's three-pointer with 32 seconds left decided a distinctly defensive game last Friday, as Somerset's boys basketball team topped St. Croix Central, 38-36. It was fitting that a three-pointer swung the final result in Somerset's favor, because outside shooting was one of the main weapons for the Spartans. Somerset led at halftime in the game 22-18, with 15 of those 22 points coming from five three-pointers.