It’s difficult to write a blog about MBC sports this time of year because it seems that there’s something important happening within at least one of the conference sports every day.
So here’s a quick catch-up effort on the MBC sports, though it will be out of date within hours.
Ellsworth is currently the top dog in the MBC football race, but there are plenty of contenders nipping at the Panthers’ heels.
Prescott, Somerset and Durand are all one game behind Ellsworth in the conference standings. The schedule makers got it right this year. Ellsworth plays at Prescott on the final night of the regular season and Durand travels to Somerset. Both those games should be thrillers.
If Prescott, Ellsworth and Somerset tie for the MBC championship, it should lead to a dandy argument in the WIAA seeding meeting. All four teams could end up in the same Division 4 tournament bracket. If they tie for the conference title and all have 8-1 overall records, how do they break that tie?
Prescott can’t do any looking ahead because the Cards play at Durand this Friday. There have been several excellent coaching performances in the MBC this season, but Durand coach Rod Rosemeyer deserves special kudos. After being hit hard by graduation, the Panthers suffered several crippling injuries early in the season. The Panthers could have packed it in. Instead, the coaches rebuilt the team and the Panthers are back in contender status.
Unless something catastrophic happens this week, Somerset will win its first Middle Border Conference boys soccer title.
It’s been entertaining to watch soccer in the area, because as a newer sport, it seems that the overall skill level around the conference is improving every year. It is quite possible that the Somerset and New Richmond teams are the most soccer-skilled teams the conference has produced to this date. There have been extremely athletic teams in the past, especially when Osceola was finishing at the top of the conference a few years ago. In terms of soccer skills, the kids who have come fully through well-coached youth programs are now reaching the high schools. And it is resulting in a better soccer product.
Three teams, Osceola, New Richmond and Baldwin-Woodville, have separated themselves as the top teams in the MBC this fall.
The conference champion will be decided next Tuesday when Osceola plays at B-W. Osceola is currently undefeated in conference matches, while New Richmond and B-W have one loss. If Osceola wins Tuesday, the Chieftains are outright champions. If the Blackhawks win on their homecourt, it could result in a three-way tie for the title.
Homecourt advantage seems to be a big factor this season. Osceola’s fans are a key factor whenever the Chieftains play at home. Other schools have caught onto that fact and more volleyball crowds are learning that turning up the volume helps their teams.
If you like teams that reflect their coaches, the MBC championship team from Baldwin-Woodville is a classic example. Jim Rumpel just keeps turning out teams that are well-schooled in all aspects of the game. When opponents make changes, the Blackhawks know how to counter those changes.
The Blackhawks aren’t flashy players. But with their savvy play, they come away with wins in a high percentage of the close matches.
New Richmond’s tennis team also deserves credit for its play this season. With just two varsity players returning, the Tigers rebuilt quickly and were a threat to Baldwin-Woodville’s status as conference champions. The Tigers put themselves in this position by working hard on their skills last summer, turning themselves into quality varsity players.
The 2013 Middle Border Conference cross country meet will be run at Durand on Tuesday, Oct. 17. This should be quite a competitive meet, both in terms of individual races and team championships.
There are several contenders for the girls individual championship. Leading the group are Osceola’s tandem of McKenzie Fortier and Mickie Gearin and New Richmond’s Maddie Kelly. New Richmond is the defending girls champion and teams will need to counteract New Richmond’s depth if they hope to overtake the Tigers. There are teams like Amery and Osceola that have the ability to make that challenge.
New Richmond’s boys are also defending champions. Led by junior Jack Utzman, the Tiger boys appear to be even stronger this year.
New Richmond won the MBC girls golf title in one of the bigger cakewalks in conference history. There was rarely a time this season when a team finished within 20 strokes of the Tigers. Osceola finished in second place and its margin over the next group of teams was almost that large too.
Girls golfers are getting better and better at driving the ball and hitting the ball in the fairway. The female golfers who will go anywhere this post-season are the ones who know how to putt. It was interesting following the golfers at the MBC golf tournament. The top two or three groups had girls who could putt capably. After that, it was rare to see a successful putt outside of five feet.
New Richmond’s Alex Wheeler and Megan Chelberg were far-and-away the top players in the conference this season and both qualified for state at a highly competitive Division 1 sectional meet. At the conference meet, a coach from St. Catherine’s University was in attendance, hoping should interest Wheeler or Chelberg or both of them to play for the Katies. She won’t be the only college coach interested in these two girls.