Vikings to represent tradition of Decorah cross country
By Becky Walz
Senior leadership on the Decorah boys’cross country team will come from (front, l-r) James Groux, Thomas Foster, Alex Zweibohmer, Tyler Irwin, Darin Rude, Nolan Jostand; (back) Noah Tapscott, David Olson, Brady Hogan, Peter Wilson, Tate Schissel, Luke Walter and Noah Lovelace. (Photo courtesy of Tami Bohr)
Returning to the course with a letter on the Vikings boys’ cross country team are (front, l-r)Arlo Hayes, Bennett Schutte, Drew Berns, Izaak Eichinger, Hogan Smith, Jake Magner; (back) Brady Hogan, David Olson, Noah Lovelace, Larsson Shockey, Tate Schissel, Dane Cole and August Witt. (Photo courtesy of Tami Bohr)

There will be an exciting group of athletes to watch who represents the strong tradition of Decorah boys’ cross country in 2020.

In addition to the three athletes back with state experience, the Vikings will also feature a team with depth.

Brad Johansen is in his seventh year as the head coach, as are his assistants Tim Hayes and Adam Bohach.

Getting to state

With 15 returning letter winners and three athletes who ran in Fort Dodge the year before, Decorah looked poised for a strong season in 2019.

During the regular season, the Vikings had several underclassmen come on strong and fight for a spot on varsity.

Decorah ran away with the conference crown, scoring just 24 points. Waverly-Shell Rock was a distant seconds with 47 points. The varsity boys produced an average time of 16:55, with a spread of 1:14 and for the third year in a row, all seven harriers earned all-NEIC honors for their efforts by placing in the top 15. In the JV race, Larsson Shockey took the crown, with Sam Robinson second and August Witt third.

Racing at Independence in the state-qualifying meet, the boys were the runners up with 55 points. Individually, Brady Hogan was the champion, with Spencer Peterson and Pat Bockman finishing in the top 15 to qualify as well.

It was a great day to run at state, as the boys placed eighth in Class 3A. Hogan earned his second trip to the deck, finishing fourth overall.

Graduates

Decorah had a strong group of athletes graduate last year. Among them were Peterson (5th NEIC, 5th districts, 62nd state), Bockman (6th NEIC, 15th districts, 42nd state), Willem Hawley (8th NEIC, 18th districts, 47th state), Joseph Seo (10th NEIC, 34th districts, 96th state).

Also graduating were Conner Cook, Zachary Garwood, Thomas Hadley, Beau Hawley, Owen Henning, Rex Huinker, Isaac Roberts, Sam Robinson (2nd at NEIC JV meet) and Gabe Vilardo.

Big names back

“I think we have a strong team. Everyone will need to believe in becoming the greatest athletes possible for their given ability. That will require discipline in all facets of their lives,” noted Coach Johansen. “We have had great leadership demonstrated by the seniors in preparation for the season.”

Johansen will first look to his three athletes who raced at state last year. Hogan is back for his senior campaign. He will be looking to improve on his time of 16:15.4 and fourth place at state.

Noah Lovelace has made two trips to state. Last year he was 34th in 17:05.5. Then-sophomore, Izaak Eichinger got his first taste of the state cross country race, touring the course in 17:45.6, finishing 72nd.

Back having earned JV all-conference honors are Larsson Shockey, August Witt, Tate Schissel, Evan Rowley, Bennett Schutte, Jacob Magner, David Olson, Dane Cole, Bradyn Hook and Arlo Hayes.

Repeating as NEIC champs

Decorah will have its hands full when it comes to winning its sixth-straight Northeast Iowa Conference title as Waverly-Shell Rock has the most returners and experience on its squad this season.

“All the other teams in the league have quality athletes and only time will tell if they have seven quality runners to field a highly competitive varsity team,” said Coach Johansen. “If we stay healthy all year, we will be in the mix for conference and district titles, as well as another trip to state. A tremendous amount of purposeful daily work will need to be done to put ourselves in that position at the end of the year.”