By Jim Bastian
Journal Sports Writer
NEW ULM - For the last six months, the South Central Conference, the Southwest Conference and the Wright County Conference have been in talks about scheduling in football.
Those talks have now brought about Marshall leaving the Southwest Conference for the Wright County Conference for football and the Southwest and South Central Conference to get together for football scheduling which will begin in 2014.
"For the fall of 2014, the Southwest and South Central will be scheduling partners," New Ulm High School Activities Director Chad Eischens said. "We do have a schedule worked out. In the first thee weeks, we will be playing crossover games between the two conferences and the final five weeks of the season will be your conference schedule."
That means that in 2014, New Ulm High School will play at Jackson County Central, host Worthington and then at Redwood Valley before the Eagles begin their SCC schedule.
"There will be no bye weeks," Eischens said. "But there is the possibility that in the future that Week 1 would open up again, but that would not be a big deal because it is easy to find a game."
He said that both St. James and Pipestone did request Week 1 openings in 2014 so they can find their own opponent.
"That might be something that we look at also in the future because being a 4A school and considering where our (football) program is right now, we may need to find a competitive 4A school for section seeding purposes or a team that we can be competitive with at a different level," Eischens said.
Eischens said that New Ulm did have some trouble filling its football schedule for 2013 and will end up playing "zero week."
"We have Luverne on zero week and then we play at home against Belle Plaine and then home against St. Peter and then at Robbinsdale Cooper and then finish with conference games," he said.
Eischens said that New Ulm was taking to St. Croix Lutheran about a game.
"If you looked at that, St. Croix won the state tournament two years ago, Fairmont finished second two years ago and last year Blue Earth Area won the state," he said. "And Cooper is a very competitive 4A school."
Eischens said that this proposed merger of football schedules between the two conferences started growing legs several years ago. But when Marshall decided to leave the Southwest Conference for the Wright County Conference, the proposed scheduling took on new life.
"That worked out for a lot of people," he said. "It worked out for the Wright County Conference and it worked out for both the Southwest and South Central because now we have the same number of teams which makes scheduling very easy."
HOST SOUTH CENTRAL CONFERENCE WRESTLING: New Ulm will host the South Central Conference wrestling tournament on Saturday, Feb. 9.
"It is going to be a very busy day at school and also here in New Ulm because that is Bock Fest," Eischens said. "And there is a hockey tournament going on at the Civic Center and NUBA [New Ulm Basketball Association] has something going on at the elementary schools."
Eischens said that day should be a good day for New Ulm fans to see some good wrestling.
"We are expecting a full gym that day," he said.
Eischens feels that the coaching staff for New Ulm wrestling has stabilized the program.
"Our scores this year are better and that is a reflection of last year's experience and the coaches," he said.
Eischens said that there are no talks now or in the future about any co-op.
He also said that he is happy with the progress of the New Ulm boy's basketball team.
"I like the way that they are playing," he said. "I can see a change in attitude and in the hustle and intensity level that they have. The coaching staff is working very well together and that bodes well for the future of the program. I like watching them play and I have had that comment from fans at the games."
GIRLS ON SKID: It's no secret that the New Ulm Eagles girls basketball team is on a skid.
The Eagles are riding a 39-game losing streak. Eischens said that the losing streak is tough on the coaches and players.
"Matt Dick is a very good coach," Eischens said. "When you see him in the gym in practice and the preparation that he does and the time he puts into it, he does a nice job. The girls are not down, they show up and work hard each day They are a young team. We are trying to tweak our schedule next year with some of the smaller and less successful programs in the area. They just need to keep working hard."
New Ulm's best chance to end the streak will come Tuesday when the Eagles lost LeSueur-Henderson, a team that is also winless this year.
GYMNASTS PREP FOR SECTION: The New Ulm Eagles gymnastics team is getting ready for section competition that begins on Feb. 15.
"Right now, we are leading the conference (which has its meet on Feb. 8) with Blue Earth Area on the schedule for this Friday," Eischens said. "If we can compete well Friday we will win the conference. We are in the section with New Prague, which has a very good program. I do not think that our team will get out of the section but we will send a couple of individuals to the state tournament."