Runners adjust to change in season

Preparation different than in August

SOUTH’S RYLEE BROTZ. – Submitted photo

Preparing for the cross country season usually requires a shirt and shorts.

But it was anything but warm – and dry – in early March, as South’s runners got ready for their alternative fall season.

“That was quite a change for them to be all bundled up and breathing in the cold air,” boys coach Kevin Herber said. “Like in summer, you’re not worried about stepping on any ice or turning corners.

“And really, too, the safety issue. In summer, people are used to seeing people out moving and running, they are move visible I guess. With the snow banks and people not used to seeing them, running around town was an issue we were worried about.”

The weather improved by the first day of practice on March 15, and should be even better when the opening race is held Thursday at Pulaski.

Snow, however, ignores the calendar in Wisconsin. So just like COVID-19 issues, there is a plan in place if the weather does not cooperate.

“We’ll just run a two-mile on a track, if we have to,” girls coach Brain Henriksen said. “I guess the bright side is at least we’re getting a season in.

“That’s what we’re going to try to emphasize to the kids. It’s an opportunity to compete. I was talking to the boys coach and we’re looking forward to interacting with kids and seeing them smile.”

Runners were also happy to learn the WIAA announced last week it will hold a state championship meet on May 8 at a site to be determined.

It was still uncertain if there would be a Fox River Classic Conference championship as of deadline, and the five meets set on the schedule consist of triangulars and not large invitationals.

However, some spring sports begin practicing on April 19. Track and field is one of them, and Herber is the boys coach for that sport, too.

So how will he juggle both sports at once?

“That is the million dollar question,” he said. “I think that the plan is I’ll probably start out with track and make sure I’m there for at least half of the practice and then finish at cross country is my guess, because I’m sure we’ll be practicing at the same time.”

Junior Alex Kaffine, the boys top runner last season after taking 30th at conference, also competes in track.

Several girls do as well.

For now, they will be led by junior Rylee Brotz, who made her state meet debut in 2019 after taking second at sectionals and third at conference.


The boys return their top four runners from a year ago, including junior Thaddeus Zenk, who placed 34th at conference.

“Having those upperclassmen and some of the newer talent coming in as well, we’re hoping to start moving up (in the standings),” coach Tyler Biederwolf said. “That’s our goal.”

The girls will be led by junior Cassidy Jerdee, who finished 48th at conference in last season.




The team’s top four boys return and only two of the seven from last year have to be replaced.

• Thaddeus Zenk, a junior, placed 34th at the FRCC meet last year and was 19th as a freshman.

• The girls bring back three key runners, but Ella Bogenschuetz graduated.

• Junior Cassidy Jerdee placed 48th at conference, one spot behind Bogenschuetz.


• Junior Rylee Brotz made her state debut last season after taking second at sectionals and third at the FRCC meet.

• Senior Hannah Braatz, who reached state as a sophomore, finished 23rd at conference. But as of last week, it was unknown if she would compete.

• The boys’ top runner from the conference meet, junior Alex Kaffine (30th) returns. But the second- and third-fastest runners on the squad graduated.

Categories: Sports

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