COLFAX — With virtually every runner for the boys cross country team returning and five of the top seven runners for the girls, a repeat as Dunn St. Croix Conference champions for both teams may be in the cards for head coach Joe Doucette in 2014.
Doucette begins his 24th year leading the Vikings and has just seven girls out this season but six of them have varsity experience. The girls not only won the conference last year but were second in the sectional meet and were fourth place finishers at the state meet. Gone from that team are Heidi Lieffort, a three time state competitor, Mallie Doucette, a two time state meet runner and McKenzie Anderson. But returning are four First Team All Conference runners including conference champion junior Dempsey Fogarty along with senior Dannielle Dachel, junior Courtney Dressel and sophomore Abbagail Schotter. In addition, sophomores Ally Heidorn and Cienna Cooper are back and with freshman MacKenzie Jensen who has a ton of middle school experience, the team should be pretty solid.
Doucette believes the biggest challenge will come from the Glenwood City and Spring Valley teams since they both have a lot of talented runners returning.The girls will face another challenge as they will begin to run a 5K distance this year as opposed to the 4K they have run since the first WIAA state meet was held in 1975.
“Our strengths this year will be the experienced runners we have back,” Doucette said. “But with only seven on the team, depth could be a problem so we need to keep everyone healthy. We want to work hard to improve and be at our best for the big meets at the end of the year.”
The boys’ team will be led by Second Team All Conference runners Tucker Hovde, Hunter Leiffort and Brett Prince, all juniors, along with fellow juniors Zac Arvold, Isaac (Ike) Lee, Brady Simonson, Grady Gibson and Daniel Schneider, all who have varsity experience. The lone senior is Brett Johnson, running for the first time for the team, along with sophomores Jake Larson and Rowdy Kadinger and freshman Jacob Jenson.
“Again, our strengths are having runners back with experience,” Doucette said. “But we don’t have any real standouts so we need a couple of them to take a big step forward which will be tough to do. We also need to stay healthy, work hard to improve and be tough at the end of the year,” he added. He expects St. Croix Central to give his team a run for their money at the conference meet along with Boyceville, who they narrowly beat out last year for the title, and Elk Mound.
“We want both our girls and boys to be competitive and represent our school and community in a classy way by working hard,” Doucette said. He will be assisted by Chuck Brown and Courtney Doucette this year.
The Vikings begin the season at Boyceville Thursday, Aug. 28. THE TIME HAS BEEN CHANGED FROM THE AFTERNOON START TO AN 11:00 A.M. START. The boys will run first and the girls will follow.