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 softball team made an early claim as one of the top teams in the Middle Border Conference this season. The Spartans got out to a 3-0 start in the MBC, which included a 14-6 win at Durand on Monday. The hits have been coming by the truckload for the Spartans. In their three conference games, the Spartans have averaged 18 hits a game. That includes a 19-hit rampage at Durand on Monday. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone hitting with more authority than Somerset senior Elysa Putz. She led off Monday's game with a triple and scored on a wild pitch.
The new spring baseball team got a lesson from one of the premier spring programs in the area last Friday. Somerset is new to spring baseball after being a long-time summer baseball program. The Spartans played their first game in the Middle Border Conference for spring baseball last Friday. The opponent was Prescott, which has been one of the most successful spring programs in western Wisconsin for many years.
A tough dose of reality was served up to the New Richmond girls soccer team on Monday. The Tigers were held without a shot on goal as they were thoroughly beaten by Hudson's varsity team, 5-0. Four starters were missing from the Tiger lineup and that meant inexperienced freshmen had to step into their roles. Facing one of the tougher soccer programs in the area made this a one-sided matching.
The New Richmond boys tennis team opened its season under challenging weather conditions, but the Tigers were still able to score a 5-2 win over River Falls in last Thursday's match. It's hard to imagine more difficult conditions than the biting cold and ferocious winds last Thursday. The wind was particularly challenging. The wind made it difficult to get serves in and it took lobs completely out of each player's repertoire of shots. The Tigers were able to wrangle three wins on the singles side and two wins from the doubles side of the meet.
The Somerset boys track team earned its first win of the spring last Tuesday, in the Spartans final indoor meet of the 2007. Somerset's boys won an indoor meet at UW-River Falls, beating Ellsworth and Mondovi. Somerset's girls placed second in the meet, finishing behind Ellsworth. In recent years, building strong relay teams was a focus of the Spartan boys team.
Through four indoor track meets, only two teams have been able to top the New Richmond boys track team. The Tiger boys were able to post another win last Tuesday, when they took the title at the Eau Claire Memorial Indoor Invitational. The Tiger boys edged out Rochester (Minn.) Century by two points for the title in the 10-team field. New Richmond placed third in the girls' half of the meet. The win for the Tiger boys was the result of excellent balance.
The New Richmond girls soccer team may only be in its second year as a varsity program, but the Tigers have already developed a fierce rivalry with their opponents from Amery. The Tigers and Amery played two close games last year. That pattern continued last Thursday, when the first game between New Richmond and Amery stretched into nearly two full overtime periods. Amery scored with just under two minutes remaining in the second overtime to beat the Tigers 2-1.
The Somerset girls track team made a substantial impact in the UW-River Falls All-American Indoor Track Meet on Saturday. Somerset took 11 girls to the meet. Those 11 girls were able to produce 44 points, placing the Spartans seventh among the 14 teams in the meet. Leading the Spartans was junior Megan Plourde. Plourde set a career best when she cleared 5-8 in the high jump, winning the event. Her previous high came when she won the state championship as a freshman with a leap of 5-7. "She started at 4-8 and you could see right away she was on," said Somerset coach Dave Praschak.
You could hardly ask for a better start than the opening week put together by the New Richmond girls soccer season. Last Friday the Tigers opened their season in Baldwin, pounding the B-W club team by a 6-0 score. On Monday the Tigers faced a more challenging opponent. Barron was a team the Tigers split with last season. This game followed that pattern, with the game tied 2-2 at the end of regulation.
Megan Plourde has made her decision. The highly recruited Somerset High School junior has verbally committed to accept a full scholarship from Colorado State University to play volleyball at CSU. Megan is the daughter of Dan and Kaatje Plourde of Somerset. Colorado State is a perennial power in the national volleyball scene. The Rams are coming off a season where they won their seventh Mountain West Conference Title, and made their 12th straight NCAA Division 1 tournament appearance.