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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The Raider girls hockey team opened the season with a win at home and a win on the road against opponents on both sides of the St. Croix River last week. Hudson defeated Hastings, 5-2, Thursday, Nov. 30, at Gornick Arena before shutting out Black River Falls, 2-0, Saturday, Dec. 2, on the road. The Raiders will play their next two games at home, Saturday, Dec. 9, at 3 p.m. at Drewiske Arena against Superior before opening Big Rivers Conference play against the Eau Claire-Altoona Stars Thursday, Nov. 14, at 6 p.m. at Gornick Arena.
The Raider gymnastics team kicked off the season on a high note by placing second at the six-team Simley Invitational Saturday, Dec. 2, in Inver Grove Heights. Hudson finished with a team score of 128.2, just seven-tenths of a point behind first place Bloomington-Jefferson. Three Raiders finished in the top ten in the all-around competition, including freshmen Caroline Erickson and Amber Robey who placed third and eighth, respectively, in their varsity debuts. Returning junior Maia Malchow added a ninth place score of 31.2.
John Dornfeld likes what he sees in his return as head coach of the Raider boys basketball team. "It's been fun for me," the 26-year school district guidance counselor said after the first week of the season. "I feel good about the group of guys we have and I'm excited about the direction that we're going."
There was a time when the Hudson-Superior hockey rivalry was a fairly one-sided affair in favor of the Spartans. Not anymore. Superior ended the Raiders' season in either the sectional semifinals or finals four out of five years from 2011-15. But Hudson has turned the tables lately, running their record to 5-0-1 over the Spartans in the team's last six meetings, including a 2-1 overtime victory Saturday, Dec. 2, at Gornick Arena. "It's always a big game," Raider coach Brooks Lockwood said. "It's big for seeding; it's big for confidence. It's become a huge rivalry."
The Hudson wrestling team drew River Falls right off the bat in its season opener Thursday, Nov. 30, and the Raiders made an early claim for another Big Rivers Conference title with a 46-33 win. Freshman Peter Hansen earned his first varsity win in the penultimate match of the night at 132 pounds, pinning River Falls' Logan Schretenthaler to put Hudson up by seven and seal the win. Hudson coach Chris Hansen said beating River Falls was big for the Raiders.
Raider girls basketball coach Jess Carney had a simple message for her team after its second straight loss Friday night, Dec. 1. "We've been getting off to really slow starts our last two games and kind of dug ourselves a hole and we've fought back and got to within four or five in the second half but we just expended so much energy that we couldn't get over that hump," she said. "So the goal tonight was to make sure we start out quick and start out playing our game, because when you're playing catch up you start losing your identity a little bit."
Jess (Vadnais) Carney wasn't sure how much she wanted to get into coaching. But when the chance to coach her old high school team opened up, she jumped at it.
New Hudson girls basketball coach Jess Carney was happy the Raiders beat Colfax, 54-38, in the season opener last Tuesday, Nov. 21, at the high school. But not for herself. "It's more important for the girls," she said. "That's the way you want to start your season, and I thought right from the get-go we came out with a lot of poise and we executed the game plan very well. They're really buying into what the coaches are trying to get them to do, and seeing great results with it."
The tenth-ranked UW-River Falls men's basketball team kicked off its five game homestand with a pair of victories last week, rolling past UW-Superior, 98-68, Tuesday, Nov. 21, and holding off Hamline University, 68-60, Saturday, Nov. 25. After hosting Carthage College Tuesday, Nov. 28, the Falcons will face Carleton College Saturday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. and the University of St. Thomas Saturday, Dec. 9, before hitting the road for the first time in nearly a month.
Nothing puts a target on a team's back more than having the label, "Defending State Champion" in front of your name. "Absolutely," Raider boys hockey head coach Brooks Lockwood said. "Everybody wants to take a crack at us. We'll get everybody's best game." If the first two games of the season are any indication, the Raiders are up to the challenge. Hudson went 2-0 at the Woodbury Thanksgiving Tournament at Bielenberg Ice Arena, shutting out Mankato East, 3-0, and beating Hopkins, 6-2.