Sunday, February 05, 2017

Mn XC Coaches of the Year

Minnesota Cross Country Coaches of the Year – 2016
Class AA 
The Minnesota High School Cross Country Coaches Association announces its Coach of the Year winners for the 2016 season.  The recipients are recognized at the fall cross country clinic.

Class AA Girls – Jerry Popp, Willmar
Jerry Popp coached Willmar to a state runner-up finish to defending champion Edina.  The Cardinals won Section 8AA and Central Lakes conference honors and their club team placed 5th at Nike Nationals.  Willmar had four all-state recipients in Jessa Hanson, Sophie Schmitz, Kayla Rudie, and Leah Hansen. “We wanted to put together a team that could compete at the local, state, and national level. To achieve that high level and still continue to keep it fun and rewarding for every member of our team.  We wanted to continue to develop a passion for running and self-improvement.  Every team is special but this one included 4 girls who have been on our team since 6th grade. They (girls program since 2005) went from not winning a varsity meet until 4 years ago to being the 5th best team in the United States. That took a lot of hard work and dedication.”  Jerry completed his 40th season as a head coach.

Class AA Boys – Matt Gifford, Maple Grove
Matt Gifford directed Maple Grove to their first ever podium finish with a 3rd-place showing at the state meet.  The Crimson won the Section 5AA and Northwest Suburban conference championships.  Alex Miley earned an individual podium finish as well with a fifth-place finish (third in team scoring).  The Crimson got top 30 team finishes from Justin Brakob and Blake Iverson.  “We had a ton of talented boys on the team. The boys are naturally very strong runners. They also really bought in. They believed in the training system and through the psychology training, really believed in themselves.”  Matt completed his 4th season as head coach. 

Class AA Assistant – Dave Rudie, Willmar
Dave Rudie completed his 8th season as assistant coach for Willmar.  In the past few years, the Cardinal girls are regular top five entrants at the state meet.  From Willmar head coach Jerry Popp:  “Dave is the right hand man for our entire program. In addition to coaching, he takes care of all entries for meets, has a big role in organizing our team banquet, and helps supervise a fairly extensive summer running program and camp. He is a positive role model for our team that brings an enthusiastic approach to everything he does. The athlete comes first for Dave. He really cares about each and every runner on the team.“

Minnesota Cross Country Coaches of the Year – 2016
Class A

The Minnesota High School Cross Country Coaches Association announces its Coach of the Year winners for the 2016 season.  The recipients are recognized at the fall cross country clinic.

Class A Girls – Bob Bonk, Fairmont
Bob Bonk led Fairmont to the state championship with a narrow 84-86 win over Perham, their second championship in program history (1988 Class AA).  The Cardinals won the Section 2A and finished runner-up in the Big South conference championship to AA power Marshall.  Fairmont had three runners in the top 15 of the team scoring in Sarah Krumholz, Jenna Pavich, and Iliana Ramon.  “This team reached and exceeded all expectations this year. We were so fortunate in that all the top runners remained remarkably healthy and injury free throughout the season. Their work ethic and team attitude was unbelievably great.”  Bob completed his 41st season at Fairmont.  He earned COY honors in 1985.

Class A Boys – Mark Abraham, LaCrescent
Mark Abraham directed LaCrescent to the podium with a third-place finish at the state meet.  The Lancers won the Section 1A and Three Rivers Conference meets.  LaCrescent had two runners in the top five overall at state in runner-up Matt Steiger (first team scorer) and 2015 champion Zach Emory (4th overall and third team). “While we knew we had two solid returners, the growth of our rank-and-file team members was fun to watch. We put five runners in the top nineteen at the Section 1A Meet, had eight All-Conference performers and ten of the top 24 finishers in the Conference Meet. Even resting our top seven runners in shifts for two of our regular season meets, our depth still allowed us to win the meets and give our non-varsity runners some valuable experience as scoring runners.” Mark completed his 33rd season as a head coach.  Mark won girls COY honors in 2008.

Class A Assistant – Ashley Roemer, Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted

Ashley Roemer assisted Wade Moravec to a sixth-place girls team finish at the state meet.  From Head Coach Wade Moravec:  We were set to improve our performance from the previous seasons in many different regards. We definitely were driven to improve our placement as a team, but to also represent our school in a respectful and responsible fashion. We were excited to carry on our tradition of having high academic standards and to continue representing our team well in the classroom as well as in athletic competition.”  Ashley completed her 8th season as assistant coach for Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted.  

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