Stoughton boys cross country coach Patrick Schneider expects a more wide open race in the Badger South Conference this season, as his team banks on experience.
The Vikings return seven letterwinners, including a quartet that finished in the top 26 at the Badger South meet last year.
Jack Albert took 22nd (17:58) and Colton Hansen (17:58.7) took 23rd last season at the conference meet, helping the Vikings to a fourth-place finish. Christian Smith took 24th, and Gavin Model was 26th.
Senior Tyler Kalagian and juniors Cade Millam and Alexander Wicks are the three other returning letterwinners.
“We have a deep team with a nice mix of experience and youth,” Schneider said. “We potentially have our best team in years.”
The top eight finishers at the Badger South meet last season graduated. Monona Grove won the conference title in 2018, and Schneider said the Silver Eagles are a probably a slight favorite to repeat.
“It will come down to who has the best rookies and who worked the hardest in the summer,” he said.
Two first-year runners Schneider is excited about are juniors Kia Sorensen and Jayden Zywicki.
Sorensen previously played soccer in the fall, and Zywicki is making the transition from football.
“We have several rookies who have a ton of potential, but will need to learn how to run a 5K race,” he said.
Stoughton will be in a WIAA Division 1 sectional with Oconomowoc, Sun Prairie and Madison LaFollette. All three were ranked in the top 10 in the state last season.