The Viroqua High School cross country team is on the young side this year, but that doesn’t stop the coach from having a positive outlook.
“We had a large number of talented seniors graduate last year and it will be difficult to replace them,” said Scott Benzing, who’s in is 20th season of coaching. “I believe that we will see a ton of improvement in our runners over the course of the season and I’m looking forward to seeing how our newer runners compete in October. I’m looking forward to working with our returning runners as they take leadership roles this season and push each other to keep getting stronger.”
Key runners lost to 2019 graduates on the girls side include Lauren Brendel, captain, first team all-conference; Madison Dull; Xana Leum; Cayleigh Smith, honorable mention all-conference; and Jillian Weston, captain, first team all-conference, MVP and state qualifier. Key harriers lost to graduation on the boys side include Mike Stuber, captain, second team all-conference; and Sam Urch, captain, Most Improved.
Josephine Dobbs, Katrina Koppa and Caitlin Fox are all returning all-conference runners for the girls. On the boys team, Josh Frye and Andrew Quackenbush are returning all-conference runners
Last year the boys placed sixth in conference and the girls placed first.
Benzing said their goals are to continually improve as the season progresses, have fun, and positively represent the school and the community.
What does the longtime coach think are this year’s strengths and challenges?
“Our returning runners are ready to assume leadership roles and we have quite a few new runners who are enthusiastic about the opportunities before them,” Benzing said. “Our biggest challenge will be replacing the talented seniors who graduated last year.”
Benzing said the Coulee Conference is always extremely competitive. “Our goal is to be as competitive as we can be in every race.”
Assistant coaches this year are Courtney Raasch, Brandon Lee and Oscar Naxi.