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Tuesday Sports: Golf, tennis, softball and track all in action

New Richmond sophomore Owen Covey confers with Tiger coach Neal Ziller during the Middle Border Conference boys golf match played at The Links in New Richmond. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
Somerset's Jonathon Richard gets set to deliver a shot on the seventh hole on The Links during Monday's Middle Border Conference match. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

The nicest weather conditions of the spring thus far on Tuesday helped a wide variety of varsity sports get in some much needed action.

This story will cover the track, softball, boys golf and boys tennis action from Tuesday, with a separate story covering the baseball action.

MBC Golf

New Richmond hosted a Middle Border Conference golf match at The Links on Tuesday. The Tigers earned their second straight MBC win, finishing with a team score of 160. Osceola was second at 172 and St. Croix Central was third at 173.

With the limited amount of practice time this spring, all the golfers are still working to find their games. That’s what pleased New Richmond coach Neal Ziller about his team’s performance.

“I saw adversity occur and each player came back from it,” Ziller said.

The Tigers were led by Michael Benedict, who shot 39 to place second overall. Owen Covey and Blake Peterson both shot 40, Max Davis 41 and Cole Effertz 44.

There was something noteworthy from every Tiger round. Davis was the model of consistency, not taking anything larger than a five during his round. Effertz took an eight and a seven early in his round, but finished par-par-bogey-birdie in his final four holes. Ziller said his highest praise for Benedict.

“Michael played extraordinary. He’s a good player,” Ziller said.

Central and Osceola look like they’re going to have close battles for second place in many rounds this season. Central had strong balance, led by Matt Mueller shooting 41 and Mason Bohatta 42. Jordan Woyda, Jacob Sanders and Zach Anderson all finished at 45.

Somerset moved up one rung in the standings, placing seventh after taking eighth in the MBC opener. This was just the third time the Spartans have been on a course all season, so they are learning on the fly. Bret Nelson led the Spartans at 48 and Dominic Abbott finished at 50. Tyler Soderlund shot 55, Jonathon Richards 63 and Ben Cahanes 64.

“Our goal for this season is to take advantage of whenever we can get out to practice and focus on fundamentals,” said Somerset coach Todd Myers. He said school is out in Somerset on Thursday and Friday, but the players all told him they want to practice those days to work on their games.

Tennis

A doubles lineup appeared to take shape Tuesday in a 5-2 win for the New Richmond boys tennis team against a vastly improved Ellsworth team.

This was the second time this season the Tigers were able to take the court. Because there are still so many questions to figure out, Tiger coach Denise Devereux held top singles player Trent Ziebol out of the lineup so she could see more of the other Tigers in action.

Devereux said the matches Tuesday lead her to believe she may have found her doubles teams. Senior Matt Kukacka and junior Brandon Dennis have looked like a good combination from Day One of the season and they earned a 6-2, 6-2 win on Tuesday. Quentin Hayes and Jack Davis were teamed at two doubles and they produced a 6-1, 6-1 win. This win went a long way toward locking them into this position.

“They have really good chemistry together,” Devereux said.

Sophomores Joe Casey and Ray Osterbauer continued to strengthen their case for the three doubles spot with a 6-0, 6-0 win.

“In every match, they are improving,” Devereux said.

The Tiger singles players all slid up a spot with Ziebol out of the lineup. Logan Denucci moved up to one singles and produced a 6-3 6-4 win. Dave Miller, in his second-ever varsity match, was a 6-3, 6-1 winner at two singles.

Tyler Dennis and Isiah Dahl were defeated in the three and four singles slots, where they both remain among the candidates for permanent spots in the lineup. For Dahl, it was his first varsity match.

The Tigers don’t play again until next Tuesday, the start of a three-match week, when they will face their top three opponents in the Middle Border Conference, Baldwin-Woodville, Amery and Regis. Tuesday’s match was the MBC opener for the Tigers.

Softball

The New Richmond softball team pulled up a tough battle against Osceola on Tuesday, while Somerset flexed its muscles in a win at St. Croix Central.

For the Tigers, this was a game they can build on. They didn’t knock the cover off the ball, but they won by limiting their errors and taking advantage of their scoring chances. The Tigers took charge with a five-run rally in the third inning. Tiger coach Lynzi Pechacek said her team learned from the first time through the batting order, and the second time around, they made solid contact against Osceola’s pitcher.

Osceola cut the lead back to 5-4, but the Tigers added two more runs in the fifth inning. A double down the rightfield line by Isabella Cacka was the big hit in that inning.

Sophomore Leah DeYoung worked the first five innings of the game, with freshman Lanie Veenendall handling the final two innings. Pechacek said she switched pitchers because Osceola was going through the batting order for the fourth time and she wanted to give them a different look. She said the difference in pitching styles between DeYoung and Veenendall gives the team versatility, with DeYoung being the harder thrower and Veenendall having more movement on her pitches.

The battle between Somerset and St. Croix Central saw two teams with their confidence going in different directions. Somerset is starting to believe it can compete at this level, while Central’s confidence is starting to waver.

This game swung in Somerset’s favor from the opening batter. Freshman Mykenzie Leccia crushed a ball that would have been a homer in many parks. This game was played at Central’s junior varsity field where there is no fence. The ball rolled into a ravine and was called a ground rule double. Singles from Georgia Hammer and Roxanne Ring got Leccia home and Somerset led 1-0 after the first.

Somerset broke the game open with three runs in the third inning and four more in the fourth.

Somerset coach Paige Johnson said junior Isabella Garcia was the hitting standout for the Spartans with three strong hits up the middle. Garcia is new to the team after moving to Somerset from California last year.

Ring threw a three-hitter to earn her first varsity shutout as a pitcher.

Central coach Mike Nilssen said the team’s waning confidence showed most on defense Tuesday, with six errors damaging the Panthers’ chances to stay competitive.

“We need to find a way to get our swagger back, then we can hopefully right the ship again,” Nilssen said. He said Ashley Mann pitched well in the game, but the defense’s issues put the Panthers in a tough spot.

Osceola track invite

Tuesday’s Osceola Invitational showed the Chieftains are the early favorites in the MBC, but that New Richmond, St. Croix Central and Somerset all are working to get in position to make their run at a conference title. It’s now less than a month to the conference meet, which will be held on Tuesday, May 14 at St. Croix Central.

The New Richmond boys finished second to Osceola Tuesday, 1.5 points behind the Chieftains. The Tiger girls were second among the MBC teams in the meet, 18 points behind Osceola.

The Tiger boys had a number of top finishes on Tuesday. Jacob Parent won the 100, Kennan Stowers the 400 and Joe Powers the 300 hurdles. Parent and Powers were joined by Payton Pohl and Joey Kidder in the winning 1,600 relay. The Tigers also took second place in eight events, showing they are capable of scoring well in nearly every event.

Among the other highlights for the boys was the pole vault, where Cayden Henning and Joe Charbonneau both cleared 11 feet. The boys scored in every track event and were top four in all events but one.

The Tiger girls only earned two event titles, but they had top finishers in nearly every event. The Tigers’ first victory came in the 800 relay, where Emma McVitty, Maggie Bau, Abrianna Utgaard and Abbie Montreal teamed up to edge Somerset by two-hundredths of a second. The Tigers were also winners in the 3,200 relay, where the distance crew of Kayla Harris, Colette Harrold, Barb Kling and Willa Rogers won by nine seconds over St. Croix Central.

For St. Croix Central, the girls know they have enough talent to compete for an MBC title. The boys still have some building to do. The Panther girls finished 12 points behind New Richmond, while Central’s boys placed fifth in the meet.

The Panther girls were led by their distance runners. Senior Marie Hamlin was the champ in the 1,600 and 3,200 races. Central coach Ben Lamb said Hamlin was happy that the boys and girls were running together in the 3,200 so she’d have some runners to pace herself against. Mya Kizer was also a third place finisher in the 1,600.

Lamb said he saw good progress in the running events, led by Morgan Siler.

“She is becoming the sprint leader I know she can be,” Lamb said. He said Kourtney Labeause also showed significant progress in the 400 and 1,600 relay.

The big news in the field events for the girls came in the shot put, where the Panthers had two freshman at 30 feet or beyond. Katie Larson took second place at 35 feet, 1 inch and Sydney Burgess reached 30 feet.

Jenna Rogan was another highlight from the field events, placing third in the high jump.

Lamb said the meet was an eye opener for the boys team, showing it has work ahead to become more competitive. The only win for the Panther boys on the track came in the 800 relay, where Austin Kopacz, Trevor Kopacz, Gabe Siler and Jacob Murtha edged out New Richmond for the title. Senior Joe Hueg had an excellent showing in the throws, winning the discus event with a distance of 130-5. He also had a personal best in the shot put at 46-4, taking second place.

Somerset’s teams came out of Tuesday’s meet encouraged. The Spartan boys ranked third and the girls placed fifth, which was good progress for a team that young.

Senior James Schachtner provided the surprise of the night for the Spartans, placing third in the 200 in 23.85 seconds. Somerset coach Brandon Berrey estimated that it’s been four years since Somerset has had a runner under 24 seconds in the 200.

Schachtner and Ty Madden also remained at the top of the results in the jump events. Schachtner won the triple jump at 40-10, with Madden in fifth place. Madden won the long jump at 19-7.75, with Schachtner in third place.

Berrey was encouraged by the results in the 800 meters, where Ben Schmitt was a second place finisher and Jack Schottler made a huge cut in his time to place seventh.

Somerset’s girls were led by Eve Goldstein, who won the shot put and placed second in the discus throw. The Spartan girls were second place finishers in the 400 and 800 relays, both finishing near the times they ran at regionals last year. Senior Keely Pitcher is finding her form, placing third in the 100.

Dave Newman

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 more than 30 years.

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