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 St. Croix Central softball team is the champion of the 2005 Dunn-St. Croix Conference large school division. The Panthers locked up the conference championship last Tuesday by beating Elk Mound 3-2. The Panthers and Mounders had battled for the conference lead throughout the season. It was the steady improvement of the Central squad that got the Panthers in position to win the conference title. Elk Mound got an early jump on the Panthers in the conference standings.
There were smiles all-around when the New Richmond Millers earned their first win of the 2005 season, a wild 13-11 win at Spring Valley on Sunday. After a disastrous start to the 2004 season which the Millers never recovered from, the win early in this season was a huge relief for the Millers. The Millers had started their season on Friday night at Osceola. The Millers played well, but came out with a 4-0 loss to the Braves. The win over Spring Valley was a wild offensive battle with a number of lead changes.
The New Richmond girls are 2005 Middle Border Conference track champions and they could not have come up with more of a storybook ending to lock up their championship. The Tiger girls won the meet championship with 169 points, three more points than second place Amery. New Richmond's boys also had an outstanding meet, finishing in second place behind Osceola. The conference championship is the first for the New Richmond girls team since 1997.
Monday's conditions were far from ideal for baseball, but the rain and wet field didn't dampen the performance of the St. Croix Central boys one bit. The Panthers ripped through Mondovi's team, winning 15-1 in five innings on Monday. The win raises Central's overall season record to 8-8 and leaves the Panthers 6-7 in Dunn-St. Croix Conference games. Pitching was the difference in Monday's game. Mondovi's pitchers struggled with the wet conditions, giving up 11 walks.
Two second place finishes in the Baldwin-Woodville Track Invitational last Tuesday showed that the St. Croix Central track teams had geared up well for this Tuesday's Dunn-St. Croix Conference Meet, which was scheduled to be run in Elk Mound. The Panther boys rolled up their highest point total of the season in taking second place at Baldwin. One of the most promising aspects of the Panthers' performance was their distribution of points. They placed in nearly every event and they had multiple point-winners in many of the events.
New Richmond's softball team moved within one win of getting a share of the Middle Border Conference championship last Wednesday by beating Durand 3-0. Then came a prolonged wait to see if the Tigers would indeed get a share of the conference title. The Tigers were supposed to play Osceola last Thursday, but that game was rained out. So was the original makeup date of last Friday.
When the Somerset softball team has a defensive meltdown, it is a complete disaster. But give the Spartans credit. They melted down against Ellsworth on Monday, giving up seven runs in the fourth inning. The Spartans then bounced back with eight runs, retaking the lead in the bottom of the inning and holding on for a 12-7 win over the Panthers. The meltdown was out of character for the Spartans, who otherwise played a very strong game in the field. An example of the Spartans' luck in that inning was a grounder to shortstop Roxy Martin.
Osceola holds the Middle Border Conference golf lead, with Amery, New Richmond and Somerset all trying to catch the Chieftains in the final week of the MBC season. The final MBC quad meets will be played this week. New Richmond will host one quad on Thursday, while Somerset will play at Durand in the other quad on Friday. That will lead into the 2005 MBC golf tournament, which will be played at Osceola's Krooked Kreek Golf Course next Monday. After Monday's action, Osceola leads the conference with 30 team points.
The scenario that New Richmond boys tennis coach Mark Hay had worked up didn't quite pan out. Hay was hoping the Tigers could knock off Eau Claire Regis last Tuesday, then have Regis beat Baldwin-Woodville last Thursday, leaving the three teams in a tie for the Middle Border Conference dual meet championship. Regis did beat Baldwin-Woodville, but Regis also beat New Richmond last Tuesday, meaning the Ramblers finish as MBC champions with a 5-0 record. New Richmond ends up third in the MBC regular season with a 3-2 mark.
If you love watching gifted athletes performing in almost idyllic conditions, there was no place better to be last Friday than watching the New Richmond Relays. The annual track invitational brought together seven of the Middle Border Conference teams, plus tough opposition like River Falls, Menomonie and Rice Lake. It seemed that every race had a thrilling finish. And with the glorious weather, a huge crowd provided deafening noise in the home stretch to spur on the athletes. "That was one of the most fun track meets I've ever been to," said Tiger boys coach Roger Reuvers.