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 New Richmond volleyball team finished the regular season with a hard-fought victory over Amery. The win moves the Tigers into a tie for fifth place in the final Middle Border Conference standings, with a 3-4 record. They finished in a tie with Prescott for fifth place in the conference. The season finale was one of the most exciting matches of the season for the Tigers. They won at Amery in four games, but there was no more than a three-point margin in any of those four games. The Tigers won the opening game 25-22, but Amery came back with a 25-23 win in the second game.
The Somerset football team hasn't had much experience bouncing back from losses, but the Spartans showed they don't take losing well. Somerset bounced back from its first Middle Border Conference loss in three years by ransacking Prescott, 48-0, last Friday. This win locks up Somerset's place in the WIAA state football playoffs, the fifth straight year the Spartans will appear in the football post-season. Somerset's defense bullied Prescott's offense with no mercy on Friday. The Spartans forced Prescott into nine turnovers, the most since Bruce Larson has been coach in Somerset.
The St. Croix Central football team locked up a place in the 2006 WIAA state football playoffs by soundly beating Spring Valley 43-0 last Friday in Central's 2006 Homecoming game. This is the first time this season the Panthers have strung together two top quality efforts. In their previous game the Panthers dominated Mondovi. In Friday's win the Panthers put together a strong all-around effort, spiced up with a few big plays. The plays didn't get any bigger than the interception by Michael Tilton in the final 15 seconds of the first half.
The Amery Invitational was the final cross country outing before this week's conference meets. It provided all three local teams with plenty of reasons to be optimistic that they can be successful in their conference races. The New Richmond boys were champions of the Amery Invitational and the Tiger girls team also had a strong showing. St. Croix Central continued its recent rapid progress by finishing in the upper half of both races.
The New Richmond volleyball team found out last Thursday that they would be facing Somerset in the first round of WIAA Division 2 regionals, which will be played next Tuesday. This gave the Tigers the perfect opportunity to send a message with their play. In last Thursday's match, the Tigers were facing Prescott, a team that had knocked off Somerset two nights earlier. The Tigers got their message across, beating Prescott in four games for the Tigers' second win in Middle Border Conference play this season. The Tigers wrapped up their regular season on Tuesday.
Tiger coach Pete Melloy said last Tuesday's 3-0 loss to Amery was a turning point for the New Richmond boys soccer varsity team. The Tigers apparently turned in the right direction, because they responded by beating Barron 4-1 last Thursday. Currently the Tigers have a season record of 10-5-1 and they hold a 6-4 conference record. The loss to Amery last Tuesday was one of the most difficult games for the Tigers this season.
One of the most difficult weeks of the season for the St. Croix Central volleyball team ended with a gigantic dose of good news. The Panthers suffered a pair of difficult losses in Dunn-St. Croix Conference action last week. That led into Sunday's WIAA regional seeding meeting. Panther coach Amanda Webb went into the meeting hoping to stake a claim to the second seed in the regional.
The magic number is one for the St. Croix Central football team. The Panthers need one more win this season to lock up a place in the 2006 WIAA State Football Playoffs and they are targeting this Friday's Homecoming game as their time to get it done. The Panthers will be hosting Spring Valley in Friday's Homecoming game at 7 p.m. Last Friday the Panthers kept their share of the Dunn-St. Croix Conference lead by blanking Mondovi 27-0. The Panthers played a lively game on offense, with the no-huddle offense breathing vitality into the team.
The Somerset football winning streak in the Middle Border Conference that has lasted since 2003 is no more. The Spartans were plagued by mistakes, especially early in the game, resulting in a 32-26 loss at Ellsworth last Friday. This does not ruin Somerset's hopes for a fourth straight Middle Border title. The Spartans have three games remaining, against Prescott, Amery and Osceola. If the Spartans win all three games, they will again be conference champions. "We still control our own destiny," said Somerset coach Bruce Larson, the architect of the winning streak.
This was the Durand team that coaches feared when they made the Panthers one of the favorites to win the Middle Border Conference in pre-season polls. The New Richmond football team went to Durand last Friday in hopes of getting their MBC record back to .500. Instead, the Panthers devastated the Tigers, rolling to a 46-6 win. The Tigers now need to win their final three games of the season if they hope to lock up a place in the 2006 WIAA state playoffs. That won't be an easy assignment, starting with this Friday. On Friday the Tigers will be playing at Osceola, the conference leader.