Finnel named new boys XC coach

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel

If Middleton’s boys cross country team really wants to push itself next season, all it has to do is try keeping up with its new head coach.

If the Cardinals come close to that, good things are sure to follow.

Middleton named Brian Finnel its new head coach last week. Finnel replaces Isaac Mezera, who resigned midway through the 2015 season.

Finnel, an assistant coach in the program the last three years, is an extremely accomplished runner. Finnel finished 57th at the 2014 Boston Marathon, the highest finish by a Wisconsin runner that year.

Now, Finnel hopes to use his experience and expertise to help Middleton’s program remain among the best in the state.

“Being the assistant coach for the last three season has been terrific,” said Finnel, a science teacher at Glacier Creek Middle School. “So taking over as the head coach seemed like the next natural step.

“I really enjoy seeing the athletes grow over a long period of time and really want to instill a love for running in each athlete. Hopefully, once my athletes leave MHS they feel they still want to try running events such as a 10K or a half marathon — maybe even a full marathon.”

Finnel, a 2006 graduate of Southern Door High School, was a cross country and track and field standout there. He competed one cross country season at UW-Green Bay, then transferred to UW-Stevens Point. 

In 2011, Finnel earned all-conference honors with the Pointers in the 5,000 meters.

Finnel’s post-college running accomplishments are even more impressive, though.

Finnel has run several marathons, and he placed 57th out of 36,000 runners at the 2014 Boston Marathon. In addition, Finnel participated in the USA Half Marathon Championships each year between 2012-‘14.

Finnel was a volunteer coach at Southern Door and an assistant coach at Oshkosh Lourdes Academy while he attended college.

Finnel joined Middleton’s cross country staff in 2013, and became the track distance coach in 2014. His knowledge of the athletes should be a plus.

“Already knowing the Middleton teams will help me transition to head coach by keeping a similar system for the athletes,” Finnel said. “I feel I have been able to relate to the athletes well, and still feel I know what it’s like being in their shoes as I’m going through similar things as them for training.

“Overall, I’m pretty passionate about running and have already been in charge of the distance athletes the previous two track seasons. So I feel the athletes know my system from track. Having some previous experience leading many of the same athletes gives me great confidence to help the program continue at a high level.”

Finnel said he learned a lot from both Mezera and former girls cross country coach Cindy Bremser. While some things will remain the same from past years, Finnel also plans to put his own stamp on the program.

“I will be bringing some different workouts to the table, as my coaching philosophy is slightly different,” Finnel said. “So the athletes can probably expect a small shift in the workouts and the workout locations.

“It’s also difficult to say how the boys and girls teams will be affected as whole. It’s still unclear if the programs will be together in their entirety like years past, or if they have to be split in some capacity.”

• More coaching news: Middleton recently named Joe Line its new boys track and field coach and Cory Christnovich as the new girls track and field coach.

Both had been assistant coaches in the program.

Line replaces Mezera on the boys side. Mezera, a former English teacher, resigned on Oct. 1 after admitting to having sex at Middleton High School with former school nurse Heather Burdett. Burdett resigned on Dec. 2.

Christnovich replaces longtime girls coach Tara Franklin, who resigned last November to spend more time with her family.

• One to go: Middleton is still looking for a girls cross country coach. Bremser — a former Olympian and Pan American Games star — stepped down after the 2015 season ended.

 

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