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 Somerset volleyball team has opened the 2007 season on a roll. Last Tuesday the Spartans won their season opener at St. Croix Central in three games. The Panthers then went to the Spring Valley Invitational on Saturday and captured the championship by winning all five of their matches. In the tournament the Spartans scored wins over Boyceville, Clear Lake, Spring Valley, Hudson and Colfax. They lost the opening game to Spring Valley, a top quality defensive team that was digging up a high percentage of Somerset's hits.
The New Richmond cross country teams saw some of their competition of the season in their first match of the 2007 schedule. On Saturday the Tigers ran in the Husky Invitational at Eau Claire North. The Tigers got plenty of good results out of the meet, particularly concerning the depth on both varsity squads. The Tigers ran against most of the large schools in western Wisconsin in this meet, including all the Big Rivers Conference schools and the top cross country programs from the La Crosse area.
The early matches in the 2007 season are being used as auditions for the New Richmond volleyball team. The Tigers have performed well in practices, but Coach Becky Ahlbrecht is searching to see which of the girls can perform well once they get into matches. Last Tuesday the Tigers opened the season by playing in a quad meet at River Falls. The Tigers won one of three games in each of their matches, against Spring Valley, River Falls and Eau Claire Regis. "I took this opportunity to plug in a lot of players and mix up the lineups," Ahlbrecht said.
Hudson High School enrollment: 1,721. Somerset High School enrollment: 429. Football score: Somerset 22, Hudson 6. Talk about bringing down a giant. The Somerset football team celebrated like it had won a state championship (and the Spartans know a little about state championships) when they defeated Hudson by a 22-6 score last Friday. This is the first time that Somerset has beaten a Division 1 football program. Last year Somerset led for much of the game before Hudson came back for a 39-36 win. "It's every small school kid's dream.
Things went terribly wrong for the New Richmond football team in its 2007 season opener. There are no mulligans, no do-overs in football. So the Tigers must lick their wounds, correct their many mistakes, and hope this was a one-game aberration. Tiger coach Joe Hutter said the 41-14 homefield loss to River Falls last Friday was a result of the team's inexperience on both sides of the ball. "Fundamentally we did not play well, on both sides of the ball. That is something we will address daily," Hutter said. "We took a couple steps backward.
Members of the Somerset Board of Education aren't ready to talk referendum. That's because they know a large percentage of the community isn't ready to hear talk on that topic. The Board of Education held a special meeting on Aug. 6 to discuss the space crunch that is facing the district, especially at the elementary school.
The local girls golf scene opened with tournaments late last week. This is already showing promise of being a highly competitive and entertaining season for girls golf in the area. The New Richmond girls golf team went to Eau Claire last Friday and won the Big Rivers Conference Scramble. The Tigers won the nine-hole scramble format tournament by shooting a score of 33 on the challenging Wild Ridge Course in Eau Claire. Last Thursday the Tiger JV team went to the Barron Scramble, taking fifth place in the tournament.
The New Richmond Golf Club opened its new, state of the art driving range to the public with a ceremony last Tuesday. The range will be called "The Joe Swanda Learning Center." It is named after the former NRGC PGA teaching professional who passed away in 2002. Swanda excelled at teaching younger golfers the basics of the game, so it is fitting that this outstanding teaching tool be named in his honor. The driving range is like nothing you'll find at any golf course in the Twin Cities area. It has five target greens, ranging in distance from 40 yards to 275 yards away.
Taking a road trip to Ashland proved to be beneficial for the New Richmond girls tennis team. The Tigers headed north on Friday and played three dual matches at Ashland on Saturday. In addition to this being an excellent team-building exercise, it was validated that the Tigers are bringing back a pretty powerful lineup for 2007. The Tigers won all three of their matches in the tournament on Saturday. The opening match for the Tigers was Ashland. The Tigers started the season in style, sweeping the Oredockers 7-0.
Legend is a word that's thrown around too freely in sports. But there are people who fully deserve the title of "Legend." Former UCLA men's basketball coach John Wooden is thought of in those terms. He was named as the "Coach of the 20th Century" by ESPN. And at age 97, Wooden is still a highly respected speaker. He speaks about basketball, but probably more important to those attending his speeches, he talks about his exceptional ability to lead and motivate people. Somerset boys basketball coach Eric Olson is a disciple of Wooden's Pyramid of Success.