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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When looking at the strengths of a baseball team, pitching is a good place to start. And the 2011 Wildcat baseball team definitely scores high in that area. The Cats return virtually the entire pitching staff that took them to within one game of the state tournament a year ago.
The Wildcat gymnastics team proved it had plenty of talent in the gym this season. Now 10 Wildcats have been recognized for their achievements in the classroom as well. Seniors Mary Butler and Kayla Rohl, juniors Ruth Anderson-Benge, Britta Grebner, Amanda Guise and Rose Tashjian, and sophomores Riley Claude, Anita Fraser, Paige Skorseth and Lauren Slowiak have all earned spots on the Wisconsin High School Gymnastics Association Academic All-State Team. Only sophomores through seniors are eligible for the team.
Last year at this time the snow was gone, fields were dry and temperatures were above average. This year? Not so much. The lingering cold and snow has made it difficult for area sports teams to prepare for their upcoming seasons. And River Falls is no exception. "We're paying for last year," high school Activities Director Rollie Hall said. "Our first baseball scrimmage is Friday and I doubt that will happen." The Wildcat baseball, softball and girls' soccer teams have all been practicing indoors for over a week.
David Page embraces his mother Jo Page after speaking on her behalf as one of the honorary chairpersons at the opening ceremonies of the 2011 Relay for Life of Pierce County in the River Falls High School gym Friday evening. David gave a moving account of his father, former UW-River Falls Athletic Director Don Page's battle with prostate cancer and Jo's unwavering commitment to care for him until the day he died Sept. 14, 2010. David's sister Sue Brown is seated next to her mother.
Wildcat seniors Sarah Vitale and Emily Blasius have both been named to the 2010-11 All-Big Rivers Conference Girls' Basketball Team. Vitale earned a spot on the five-player second team while Blasius was one of 11 players to receive honorable mention. Vitale led the Wildcats in scoring with an average of 10.5 points per game. It's the second straight year she has received All-BRC honors.
Josh Eidem remembers the exact moment he fell in love with town baseball. "I came up from Rochester to play with some of my UW-River Falls teammates for the Spring Valley Hawks at the Ellsworth Cheese Curd Days Tournament in 2000," he recalled. "It was a Saturday night game and I was standing out in center field with all these people at the game cheering and having a good time and I was thinking, 'Why do I go home during the summer?' I came in to pitch at the end of the game and people were just screaming.
The River Falls High School girls' powerlifting club team took home the Division 1 Wisconsin state championship trophy at the completion of the Wisconsin High School Powerlifting Championships March 11-12 at Eau Claire North High School, ending a 9-year run for the girls' of Neenah. The boys came up just a few points short in their quest to repeat as champions after taking home the title in 2010. Competing for just the second year as a team, the girls placed enough lifters to hold off second place Eau Claire North and Manitowoc Lincoln with just two points separating the top three teams.
The Big Rivers Conference champion Wildcat boys' basketball team led the charge on the 2010-11 All-BRC team with four players honored by the conference coaches. Senior Jack Herum was named to the first team and senior Nick Zimmerman earned second team honors while seniors Zane Heinselman and Colin Pechacek both received honorable mention. River Falls had the most players selected with four.
All three Wildcat captains have been honored for their play this season by being named to the 2010-11 All-Big Rivers Conference Boys' Hockey Team. Senior co-captains Karl Andersen, Cooper Maxwell and Garrett Jensen were all named to the All-BRC second team in voting by the conference coaches. It's the second straight season Andersen and Jensen have made the All-BRC team.
The Wildcat boys' basketball team held sixth-ranked Onalaska to 34 points below their season scoring average Thursday night, but that didn't stop the Hilltoppers from advancing to their third straight sectional final. Onalaska's defense was just as stingy, holding River Falls to just nine field goals on its way to a 27-22 win in a WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinal at Eau Claire Memorial High School. Onalaska improved to 23-2 with the victory and will face Merrill (14-11) in the sectional semifinal Saturday night in Marshfield.