For the past 20 years, Brian Huebner, the Westby Area High School cross country coach, has worked with Westby athletes to improve their running legs as part of the boys and girls cross country teams.
“Get better every single day and good things will happen” is Huebner’s motto as he looks toward the season ahead.
Huebner and his assistant coach, David Nelson, have a solid core group of girls hoping to make another run at state and a talented group of boys hoping to have a stronger presence in the Coulee Conference. They are also fortunate to have seen their numbers increase this season with 20 girls and 20 boys on board.
“We have good depth, experience and a lot of excitement so I think we will be very competitive in the conference,” Huebner said.
Westby Girls Cross Country
The Norse will rely heavily on the core group of talented and experienced female runners in the program to carry the team to grandeur this season. The Norse girls placed eighth at the WIAA D2 State Cross Country Meet in 2016 and were also Coulee Conference Champions.
“Tradition and solid summer work should benefit the Norse and if the girls’ team stays healthy they should be in good shape all season,” Huebner said.
Key senior competitors returning to the lineup are Elena Schmidt, Abbey Wedwick, Sydney Sherry, Julianne Call and Lexi Crume. Underclassmen returning to the course include: juniors, Erinn Sebion, Sierra Cade, Justice Franks, Sarah Weninger and sophomore, Liza Jackson. Westby lost Riley See and Dani Knight to graduation in 2016, and their leadership will be missed.
The girls will face a strong challenge from rival Viroqua and West Salem, two teams with depth and talent like Westby.
“The level of competition is always increasing, but I think we will be very competitive in the conference,” Huebner said.
Westby Boys Cross Country
The Westby boys team numbers have rebounded with double digits this season. The team lost only one senior to graduation, Kyle Hansen, his experience and determination to push harder will be missed. This season’s team will be guided by seniors, Hayden Fredrickson and John Lucas, along with underclassman, Kade Sherry.
Fredrickson represented the team at state last year finishing 25th in D3 individually. This year’s team will need to work hard and stay focused all season to pass tough challenges from Luther, GET and BRF teams.
Huebner said he is hoping to keep the season competitive with a respectable finish in the Coulee Conference season, but said the level of competition on the boys side is some of the toughest he has witnessed in his two decades of coaching.
“Our boys will need to work hard and be patient. They need to run with determination and heart,” Huebner said.
Both the girls and the boys have been logging plenty of miles this summer. The coaches encouraged using different running patterns away from school and they tried to add some fun activities to keep the runners focused.
“As coaches we emphasize running in groups, being patient, bonding with teammates, increasing speed, but still enjoying the sport every step of the way,” Huebner and Nelson said.