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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WIAA girls basketball regional tournament action begins around the state on Tuesday, Feb. 20. Bloomer, Durand and Clayton were western Wisconsin teams that reached the WIAA State Tournament in 2017. What teams represent this part of the state at the 2018 WIAA state championships at the Resch Center in Green Bay on March 8-10 is anyone's guess. There are talented teams in all five divisions, but it will take talent and a little luck to be the teams advancing to the state tournament this season.
Girls hockey in western Wisconsin is a vastly underrated sport. Our area has been producing some of the best teams in the state for more than a decade. The top three ranked teams in the state all reside in Sectional 1. Undefeated Hudson is the top-ranked team in the state, with Eau Claire and St. Croix Valley being the second and third ranked teams. All three are highly skilled teams that possess standout players, along with deep talent pools. Any of the three teams would represent the section admirably at the state tournament.
Sectional 1 in the WIAA boys hockey tournament bracket is annually one of the best in the state. The battle to be champion of the section should again be an epic battle, with Hudson, Superior and New Richmond all fielding top quality teams. Section 1 has put a team in the state finals each of the past three years. Hudson won the title in 2017 after taking second place in 2016. Superior won the state championship in 2015. There's every reason to believe that whichever team advances out of the sectional this winter again has a great chance of reaching the state title game.
Jack Cichy is healing on schedule and is hoping to make a strong impression on National Football League scouts, leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft on April 26-28. Cichy is recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury to his right knee that cost him his senior season. The Somerset native and former University of Wisconsin Badgers standout linebacker suffered the injury during a preseason practice in August. He underwent surgery three days later.
It has been a long road with many twists and turns for Gaelin Elmore. He's hoping the journey takes him to the National Football League. Elmore, a 2014 graduate of Somerset High School, declared himself eligible for the 2018 NFL Draft. He has signed with an agent, Premier Athlete Advisors, to help him in pursuit of his goal.
Fat tire bikers now have a course in New Richmond, and there's a new event planned to christen the course. The Frozen Gnome Fat Tire Challenge will be held on Saturday, Jan. 13 at a new three-quarter mile groomed trail at Barley John's Brewing Company in New Richmond. The brewery is located at 1280 Madison Ave. The event is presented by the Big Ring Flyers Bicycle Club and Race Team and is open to the public. They will have demo fat bikes available at the event for anyone that wants to come out and give it a try, courtesy of Crank Worx Bike Shop of River Falls.
Gwynn Christensen achieved a great many things in his 92 years. He started as high school standout athlete, then a World War II soldier. That was followed by being a college football starter, high school coach and administrator, college coach, businessman, Shriner and Mason, to name a few. Christensen moved to New Richmond in 1970. He remained here until he died on Nov. 5 at the American Heritage Care Center in Hammond.
Bees and bikes? Never thought they'd go together? At a business called "Beez Kneez" in Minneapolis, bikes are used to extract honey from the honeycombs. Tim Alsdurf of New Richmond began raising bees at his home on the outskirts of the city three years ago. He's also a member of the Big Ring Flyers bike racing team. So this fall he decided that his two interests could be combined. He spent more than four hours on a recent day riding a stationary bike at Beez Kneez.
Through the first half of the season, New Richmond senior linebacker Clayton Van Dyk has had to play with a heavy guard wrapped around his left hand. He is extremely fortunate that his left hand remains intact. In late July, Van Dyk was involved in a farm accident at his family's farm just outside Boardman. Damage was done to the index, middle and ring fingers of that hand. The index and ring fingers were both broken, requiring pins to be inserted to assure that the fingers would heal in their proper alignment.
Volleyball practice became a time for the Somerset girls to heal a bit on Monday. The Spartans were dealing with the news that freshman team member Bailey Belisle, 14, died over the weekend from a fall at Palisade Head, a landmark along the Lake Superior shore north of Duluth. Somerset varsity volleyball coach Sarah Praschak had Belisle as an elementary student, and now again as a high school freshman. Praschak said Belisle was an active, energetic girl. "She was just sweet, very nice. Fun and friendly," Praschak said.