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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Friday night was very good for St. Croix Central athletics. Panther junior Ryan Larson advanced to the WIAA Division 2 state championship match and the St. Croix Central girls basketball team advanced to the Division 3 regional championship game.
The four local wrestlers competing at the WIAA State Individual Championships are all scheduled to be in action Friday morning. New Richmond's Nathan Fehlen was defeated in the opening round of the Division 1 160 pound bracket on Thursday. Fehlen earned a wrestleback in the bracket. Fehlen (28-10) will face Cooper Schlosser of West Bend East (41-7) in the opening round of wrestlebacks in the 10 a.m. session on Friday.
The smiles were huge as members of the St. Croix Central girls basketball team got to take their turn, cutting down a piece of the net last Thursday. The Panthers were told they would get the chance to cut down the net if they finished as undefeated champions of the Middle Border Conference. And that's just what they did, thrilling a large Senior Night home crowd with a 66-47 win over New Richmond. With the win, the Panthers finish with a 14-0 record in the MBC and it raised their overall record to 20-2.
The 2018 WIAA State Individual Wrestling Championships begin Thursday afternoon in Madison and western Wisconsin will be well represented in the tournament. The Middle Border Conference is sending 17 wrestlers to the state meet and the Big Rivers Conference has 10 wrestlers who will be competing. Both conferences have strong reputations around the state and there should be plenty of area wrestlers who bring home medals from this weekend’s action.
When you are 20 games into a season, there are no surprises. Opponents have you so well scouted, that they know every player and every scheme teams run. These are the games where it takes mental toughness to grind out wins. And that's what the St. Croix Central boys basketball team did in both of its Middle Border Conference games last week.
The Somerset boys basketball team will open the Division 3 WIAA playoffs next Tuesday at Barron. The Spartans received the ninth seed at the regional seeding meeting held Saturday, Feb. 17 while Barron got the eighth seed. These teams met early in the season, where Somerset shut down the Bears, 48-31. Barron was 8-13 at the seeding meeting while Somerset was 5-14.
The last appearance for the Somerset boys hockey seniors on their home ice was one they aren't likely to forget. The Spartans erupted for a season-high nine goals in defeating the Northwest Icemen in the opening round of the WIAA regional tournament last Tuesday. The 9-2 win advanced the Spartans to last Thursday's regional finals. That's where they faced Hudson, the top-ranked boys team in Wisconsin. Hudson won that game 9-0 to end Somerset's season. The Spartans finish the season with a 6-20 overall record.
The goal for the New Richmond boys basketball team last week was to find its offense, after the Tigers struggled woefully in a game at Baldwin-Woodville the previous week. While the Tigers went 1-1 last week, the offense reemerged, playing much more productively in games against Ellsworth and Somerset. The Tigers gave the high-powered Ellsworth boys a good challenge before losing 77-65 last Tuesday. The Tigers had one of their best shooting halves in recent weeks in the first half at Somerset, leading to a 65-52 win over the Spartans.
As tough as the opposition was for St. Croix Central's Ryan Larson at the WIAA Division 2 sectional tournament on Saturday, his biggest challenge may have come from his own injured back. Battling through the pain of a back injury that has dogged him for most of the year, Larson still managed to win the Division 2 sectional championship at 195 pounds. And he beat the state's top-ranked wrestler in the finals to earn his sectional title.
One of the most talented senior classes in New Richmond boys hockey history won't see their dream of reaching the WIAA state tournament come to fruition. The Tigers and Superior waged a game for the ages at Wessman Arena in Superior. It wasn't until 11: 57 was elapsed in the second overtime that Superior scored the game winner, winning 4-3. Superior will face Hudson the the sectional championship game at 2 p.m. on Saturday in Amery.