The cross country season is upon us.
What can we expect? Well, a lot.
Baraboo has a new assistant coach who's a very familiar face. And the Badger Conference, like in every other sport, has an entirely new look.
Here are three things to have in mind as runners kick off toward the finishing line this fall.
Arndt returns to T-Birds in new role
Former Baraboo head coach Peter Arndt, who won 26 conference championships and had four team state championship meet appearances in 36 seasons in charge of the Thunderbirds, will be returning this year as an assistant coach. Arndt was inducted into the Wisconsin Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2016 and retired as Baraboo head coach after the 2017 season but has remained in close proximity to Baraboo sports. Arndt is now working under current Baraboo head coach Jacob Boll, who worked as Arndt’s assistant coach from 2012-2017.
Roe, Nelson combine forces in Sun Prairie's final season
Sun Prairie will have co-head coaches this fall with Matt Roe and Megan Nelson sharing the responsibilities. The Cardinals are coming off a cross country season in which they finished in second at the alternate fall state championship meet. Roe had previously been the Sun Prairie girls cross country head coach and Nelson has been coaching cross country and distance track for Sun Prairie since 2014. Roe and Nelson will serve as co-head coaches for both boys and girls cross country teams at Sun Prairie. The move to fully combine the boys and girls cross country teams coincidently comes in the final season in which Sun Prairie will compete as one high school. Kevin Hall, who had been the boys coach, moved to South Carolina this summer.
Badger Conference gets face lift
The Badger Conference is now split into East and West rather than North and South, and members have been rearranged to align geographically with the new divisions. The Badger West includes Baraboo, Portage, Reedsburg, Sauk Prairie, Edgewood, Mount Horeb, Monroe and Oregon, while the Badger East features Beaver Dam, DeForest, Watertown, Waunakee, Fort Atkinson, Milton, Monona Grove and Stoughton.
High school boys cross country preview: Verona's Aidan Manning among 10 runners you need to know this season
Zach Huffman, sr., Deerfield/Cambridge
Huffman took 10th place in WIAA Division 2 with a time of 16:51 at the 2020 fall state championship meet. He also took sixth place in the 3,200-meter run during the state track and field meet, and he was part of the 4x800 relay team that took fifth place.
Griffin Ward, sr., Middleton
The 2021 alternative fall season individual state runner-up ran a time of 15:43.2 to help the Cardinals finish fourth as a team. Ward also took sixth in the 1,600-meter run and 16th in the 3,200-meter run at the 2021 WIAA state track and field championship meet.
Yordanos Zelinski, sr., Oregon
Zelinski took seventh individually and tied the Oregon school record with a time of 15:57 in the spring during the state meet. During the 2021 track and field season, he placed seventh at the state meet in the 800-meter run and was part of the 4x800 meter relay team that set a school record and took sixth at the 2021 WIAA state track and field championship meet.
Tucker Johnson, sr., Poynette
Johnson looks to build off of a strong junior campaign that ended with him competing in the 2020 fall state championship meet in November. Johnson was a member of the 3,200-meter relay team that took 16th place in Division 3 at the WIAA state track and field championship meet.
Jayden Zywicki, sr., Stoughton
Zywicki took 10th place at the 2020 state championship meet, held in the spring, and is less than 25 seconds away from breaking Stoughton’s school record. Zywicki also finished 15th in the 800-meter run at the 2021 WIAA state track and field championship meet.
Jack Boerger, jr., Sauk Prairie
Boerger competed at the 2020 fall state cross country championship meet and also competed in the 3,200-meter run at the 2021 state track and field championship meet.
Carter Scholey, so., Sugar River
As a freshman, Scholey took 23rd at the state meet this spring and finished just more than a minute behind the winner. Scholey also competed in the 3,200-meter run at the 2021 WIAA state track and field championships.
Mateo Alvarado-Venegas, jr., Sun Prairie
As a sophomore, Alvarado-Venegas helped the Cardinals to a state runner-up finish in the spring's state championship meet when he ran 15:56.9 to take sixth place. He was the highest-placing member of the Sun Prairie team and only placed behind two runners who are returning this coming season.
Aidan Manning, sr., Verona
Manning ran a time of 16:11.9 to take 12th place at state this spring. Manning also took fourth in the 1,600-meter run at the 2021 state track and field championship meet. He also set the Verona high school record in the 1,600-meter run earlier in the season.
Blake Oleson, jr., Verona
Oleson took 20th this spring during state with a time of 16:29.2, making him the third-highest placing underclassman runner at the meet. Oleson also competed in the 1,600-meter run and the 3,200-meter run during the 2021 track and field season.