Prep cross country: West moves on from Yahara Hills
The process of turning Yahara Hills Running Course into an extension of the Dane County Landfill has forced Madison West to transition to a new home cross country course next season.
The Regents will use Lake Farm County Park after hosting between three and five meets per season at Yahara, which also was a frequent site for regional and sectional meets.
“We were sad to see it go,” West boys cross country coach Tom Kaufman said. “The handwriting had been on the wall for a couple of years. This was not something we were really going to have any control over.
“It’s a drag for the high school to lose their cross country course, but there’s just not a way the county would have been fiscally responsible to the taxpayers to say, ‘Sorry, we’re going to build a new landfill and it’s going to cost five times as much.’”
Kaufman said the Regents will evaluate Lake Farm County Park after next season and decide if it’s a viable long-term solution.
An advantage Yahara gave to West was its narrowed purpose. Nothing else took place there besides high school cross country meets, and Kaufman said they were able to install permanent markers every 800 meters.
The course had hosted many of the area’s top runners over the past two-plus decades, perhaps most notably former Madison East runner Gabe Jennings, who went on to compete in the 2000 Olympics.
“You’ve got Olympians like Gabe Jennings, you’ve got multiple-time state champions like Steve Lacy’s kids and (West’s) Olin Hacker and Alex Brill, who’s running in the NCAAs for the Badgers this weekend, and (former Cornell runner) Brett Kelly. And on the girls side, again, you’ve had multiple state champions who have run there, many of whom have gone on to have really good success collegiately.
“The kids are marginally upset because they’ll never get a faster time there, but I said, ‘Well, you’ll get a new faster time wherever it is you run the first time.’”