By Troy Sparks
Sports Correspondent

Keith Olsen has his work cut out this year.

The longtime Westosha Central High School boys and girls cross country coach won’t know how his team will do until the season starts, but he’s looking for some of his runners to step up and lead by example.

“This is a fairly young team without a lot of experience, especially at the varsity level,” said Olsen, who has been the head coach for 32 of the last 34 years in the program.

“That being said, I feel they have good potential to develop over the course of the season. I believe we will be a much different team come October than people will see in August.”

Olsen said each runner must believe in their abilities to perform beyond their expectations.

“The key is getting them to see themselves the way the coaching staff does,” Olsen said. “They are better than they know, but they have no point of reference or experience to base upon. They are hard-working and that bodes well for them and they are motivated to excel.”

Junior Heaven Anderson, who qualified for state last year, will lead the girls team.

She advanced to the WIAA Division 1 state meet after placing sixth at sectionals with a time of 19 minutes, 29.1 seconds.

Sophomore Kelsi Santos was 47th overall at sectionals in 2017 (22:18) and will benefit from a year of experience as a freshman.

Jessica Sheen and her sister Jennifer along with Jade Fluger also return for their senior seasons.

Freshman Ariana Eller, sophomore Alexandria Denman and junior Jaden Morris will also play a role in the team scoring points.

“Heaven Anderson is a returning state qualifier who has trained well over the summer,” Olsen said. “It’s our job to get her back to Rapids again this year. She has good talent and work ethic to match, so she is definitely in the hunt.”

There are 34 boys on the roster and 14 of them are freshmen or sophomores.

Freshman Will Allen has shown potential and the only one in the group of 10 first-year runners with a shot at making the varsity roster.

Second-year runners Dylan Hartnek and Ian Slade will learn from fellow sophomore Frank Quinones, who finished 61st overall at the Division 1 Kenosha Bradford Sectional meet last year as a freshman with a time of 18 minutes, 52 seconds.

Lead runner Kyle Pflug, a junior, will look to improve on his 57th overall placement at sectionals as a sophomore (18:40). Carson Meredith, Carson Edquist and Eddy Jahnke are the other juniors that will be counted on to mentor the younger runners. Alex Rubenacker and Matt Pham will provide the senior leadership.

Olsen said Lake Geneva Badger and Waterford are the clear front runners to win the conference championship on the boys and girls side. Elkhorn, Delavan-Darien, Burlington, Wilmot and Union Grove will battle for position with Westosha Central for the third through eighth place spots in the conference.

“After that, the conference looks to be pretty balanced and competitive. It is our intention to be in the thick of it with the rest of the conference,” Olsen said, referring to the teams chasing Badger and Waterford.

 
 

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