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 New Richmond wrestling team got their fill of seconds at the Shell Lake Invitational on Saturday. That had nothing to do with eating however. The Tigers finished second in the team competition and had six wrestlers finish in second place in their weight class at the tournament. The Tigers didn't have any champions at the tournament. The marquee match of the tournament resulted in New Richmond senior Israel Neumann taking his first loss of the season. Neumann entered the final round of the tournament with a 33-0 record.
The showdown is set for the lead in the Middle Border Conference for girls basketball. This Saturday Somerset plays at Durand. Somerset starts this week with one MBC loss, while Durand has yet to lose in conference play. Durand has another tough assignment to worry about before facing the Spartans. On Thursday, Durand has to play at third place Amery, the only team that has delivered a conference loss to Somerset. Somerset is now 11-1 after two decisive road wins last week. On Friday the Spartans went to Ellsworth, winning by a 67-46 score.
The lack of experience on the New Richmond girls hockey team showed up mostly in defensive zone coverage as the Tigers lost three games over the past week. On Monday night the Tigers lost to St. Bernard's, a team from St. Paul, by a 5-1 score. Last Thursday, in their first home game in a month, the Tigers were edged by Menomonie 2-0. Last Tuesday the Tigers were beaten at Chippewa Falls by a 4-1 score. In Monday's game the score was tied 1-1 after one period. Rachel Mullendore got the Tiger goal, off assists from Anna Dodor and Leah Egan.
As young as the Somerset wrestling team is this season, the focus has been on learning and developing skills. That work is starting to pay off for the younger members of the Spartans. Nearly all of the Spartans earned two wins or more when the team competed in the Eden Prairie Invitational on Saturday. The improvement was led by Austin Pederson and Darnell Tienter, who both placed fourth in the eight-team tournament. The Spartans also had a handful of wrestlers place fifth in their weight classes. Somerset's coaches are especially pleased with the recent upturn made by Pederson.
With games against Prescott and Baldwin-Woodville on the horizon, the New Richmond boys basketball team spent the past week showing it could put some distance between itself and the opposition. On Monday the Tigers put away Ellsworth 61-46, in a game where they led by as many as 25 points. Twenty-point leads were the theme of the week. Last Friday the Tigers overwhelmed a young Somerset team, 48-21.
Four straight wins should be enough to say the New Richmond boys hockey slump is officially over. After losing five straight games, the Tigers have rebounded by winning their next four games. And the Tigers have not trailed in any of those four games. The win streak climbed to three last Thursday when the Tigers topped Amery 4-3.
With its pattern of winning any game where there was a good start, the St. Croix Central boys basketball team looked in good shape after taking a 12-4 lead against Spring Valley last Thursday. Consider the pattern broken. Spring Valley fought back to tie the game at 20-20 at halftime. It remained a dogfight, with Spring Valley taking a 38-37 lead with 2:37 remaining. Central would then score the final four points of the game to hold off the Valley, 41-38. With the win and Elk Mound's upset of Mondovi on Thursday, Central moves up into a tie for third place in the Dunn-St.
The Baldwin-Woodville wrestling team did everything it could to put itself in a position to upset New Richmond's wrestlers last Thursday. However, the Tigers refused to cooperate. The Blackhawks led 18-12 after the 160-pound match, but from there the Tigers took charge to score a 45-25 win. With the win the Tigers are now 4-1 in Middle Border Conference matches. The Tigers will wrestle at home this Thursday against Somerset.
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.