Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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One of the biggest names in local wrestling history is coming back to coach his old team. Kevin Black, the only four-time state champion ever at River Falls High School, has been hired as the Wildcats' new head wrestling coach, according to school district activities director Rollie Hall. "I am happy and excited to announce Kevin Black has been hired as the new head wrestling coach for the 2013-14 school year," Hall said in a statement released Monday, March 11. "Kevin brings a work ethic and background of experience that is hard to match.
Seven St. Croix Valley Fusion players, including both goaltenders, have been named to 2012-13 All-Big Rivers Conference Girls Hockey teams. Senior goaltender Kalli Armagost was named the BRC Player of the Year and was joined on the all-conference first team by senior forward Sally Cranston. Senior defensemen Heather Shew and Micha Bennett were both named to the All-BRC second team while junior goaltender Carlie Christensen, freshman defenseman Maddie Rowe, and freshman forward Hanna Zevenbergen all earned honorable mention. St. Croix Valley led the conference in All-BRC picks with seven.
The River Falls gymnastics team won the Division 2 state title and Wildcat senior Riley Claude won state titles in the all-around and uneven bars for the second straight season at the WIAA Gymnastics Championships Friday and Saturday, March 1-2, in Wisconsin Rapids. The Cats posted a team score of 142.416 to win Saturday's state team championship and their sixth state title since 2002.
The Wildcat hockey teams' top two scorers this season -- Casey Jerry and Connor Maxwell -- have both been named to 2012-13 All-Big Rivers Conference Hockey teams. Jerry, a senior, was named to the All-BRC first team while Maxwell, a junior defenseman, received honorable mention. Jerry, an honorable mention selection a year ago, led the entire BRC in scoring this season with 37 goals and 32 assists for 69 points, an average of over 2.5 points per game. His 69 points is a new Wildcat single-season scoring record.
After avenging a four-point regular season loss to Holmen with a 59-38 victory in last Friday's WIAA regional semifinal in Holmen, the Wildcat boys' basketball team couldn't pull off a repeat performance against defending state champion and No.
The Wildcat girls' basketball team dropped a 48-34 decision last Tuesday at Eau Claire Memorial before defeating Menomonie, 59-46, the night of Thursday, Feb. 21 on the Mustangs home court in its final two games of the regular season. The Cats, the No. 8 seed in the 11-team WIAA sectional bracket, hosted ninth-seeded New Richmond in a regional quarterfinal game this past Tuesday, Feb. 26 and lost 36-33 in OT.
The tradition continues. The Wildcat gymnastics team, under first-year coaches Rachel Paulson and Lauren Brathol, qualified for its 14th straight WIAA State Gymnastics Tournament Friday, Feb. 22 by finishing second at the sectional meet in River Falls. The Cats finished with a total score of 138.725, just behind sectional champion Rice Lake/Cumberland's score of 138.825. Paulson and Brathol were both members of Wildcat state championship teams themselves under former coaches Shelly Kahut-Loomis and Brian Whipple.
After throttling Baron/Chetek, 8-2, in a WIAA regional semifinal at home last Tuesday, Feb. 12. the Wildcat hockey team picked up right where it left off in the regional final in Superior Feb. 14, jumping out to a 2-0 lead. But the top-seeded Spartans scored five unanswered goals to end the Cats' season by a score of 5-2. River Falls' head coach Mike Kealy said the Cats prepared all season long for a strong tournament run and was proud of the way the team competed. "We were very clear on our message to the team that regular season was our test for the post season," Kealy said.
The Wildcat boys' basketball team scored just four points in the first half Friday, Feb. 15 in Hudson and trailed 17-4 before storming back to win in overtime, 52-43. "That was one of my all-time classic comebacks," River Falls' coach Greg Gaulke said. "The guys put it all on the line for the team. That's something they will remember for a long time." Gaulke said Hudson had its way with the Wildcats in the first half, limiting the Cats to a single field goal in each of the first two quarters. "We came out flat for lack of another term," he said.