If the offseason is any indication, the DeForest boys cross country team is in for a successful 2020 campaign.
“This summer probably saw some of the highest mileage across our varsity runners comparing it to past years,” Norski coach Joe Parker said. “While we have had pockets of individuals with higher mileage in the past, this summer saw at least five of the guys consistently over 35 miles a week and it has showed in practice.”
The great offseason, along with a strong group of returning runners, has Parker excited about the season.
“We have a strong group of juniors, complemented by an assortment of under and upperclassmen,” Parker said. “Our youth is our strength. The level of competition we face and bring out of each other may prove to be our challenge. Not settling into our roles in workouts and on the team will dictate how much each individual improves.”
Last season, the Norskies earned third place behind Sauk Prairie (36) and Waunakee (64) at the Badger North Conference Meet with 92 points.
DeForest was ninth at the Madison West Sectional last season.
Highlighting last season was John Roth, who has since graduated. He claimed an individual conference title and qualified for the state meet.
The 2020 season will look very different as the format of meets have been changed to accommodate restrictions in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Staying healthy, mentally and physically will be a challenge,” Parker said. “Races will not provide the number of competitors that fill gaps in-between each runner. Self-drive will be the No. 1 determining factor to race at your full potential.”
Due to the pandemic, the Badger Conference has canceled this year’s conference meet.
“Time will help us keep the guys motivated,” Parker said. “A watch can offer as much motivation as any distance runner can muster out of themselves. They will need to be the ones to realize that and that’s what my job is, to help them see that.”
The Norskies return several letter winners, including senior Ferris Wolf and juniors Jackson Grabowski, Matthew Vander Meer and Eli Bauer.
Bauer earned first-team all-conference last year after placing sixth at the Badger North Meet, while Wolf finished in 27th place.
Parker is also expecting big things from Isaiah Bauer (So.), Caleb Ekezie (Jr.), Rhett Parker (So.) and Korbin Eisler (Sr.).
Isaiah Bauer had a great freshman season. He placed 30th at the conference meet.
The Norskies will kick off the season on Saturday with a triangular in Watertown at 12 p.m.
DeForest will make its home debut on Sept. 15. The Norskies will host Reedsburg at 4 p.m.
“Our team goals are to provide a physically active opportunity during these difficult, isolating times,” Parker said. “Each race will be an opportunity to improve on what you can pull out of yourself. Depending on the race format, we may look to depend on inner drive more than ever to achieve PR’s.”