Earlier this year, veteran Glenbard South boys cross country and track coach Andy Preuss was induced into the Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches Association (ITCCCA) Hall of Fame.
Preuss, one of seven inductees out of a field of 60 who were nominated, is in his 29th year. His cross country teams have qualified for the state meet nine times, and finished in the top six a total of six times. His 2001 squad, led by individual state champion Micah VanDenend, captured the state team title. A year later, the Raiders placed third.
Meanwhile, Preuss’ track teams also have earned state and national honors over the years—including three top-10 finishes at the state meet and a 3,200-meter relay team that was the 2007 Nike Outdoor National high school champion (timed in 7:40.57).
This spring’s team is a powerhouse, as well, with defending Class 2A state 400-meter champion and University of Wisconsin recruit leading the charge.
Preuss spoke with Glen Ellyn Patch about being inducted into the Hall of Fame, and the 2011 track team.
Patch: How did getting nominated for the Hall of Fame come about?
Preuss: Don Helbert from Wheaton North (the boys track coach) nominated me about a year or so ago. And they polled the selection committee. They had to write some letters of support, so Lee Halberg, who’s my assistant (track coach) now, Terry Artman who’s my assistant cross country coach and John Mulrow (a former all-state cross country runner) wrote those letters. There are over 1,000 (ITCCCA) members and we have a clinic; around 1,000 people come to the clinic in January.
Patch: What was the evening of the induction ceremony like for you?
Preuss: I had fun with it because a bunch of my former athletes were there. And basically that’s why you’re there. Kevin Kuhlman flew in from Washington, D.C.; Mulrow flew in from San Francisco; Loren King came up from Alton (Ill.). All the local guys—Mickey Beebe, who ran for me back in the ’80s and lives in the city (of Chicago) came over. Jimal Miller, who lives in the area. That was the fun part of the whole thing, seeing all the old guys together. Kyle Nugent (current Glenbard West cross country coach), Eric MacTaggart from Idaho. Kelly Haas, Micah VanDenend, Mike Adduci, Rajiv Nathan, Blake Lackage, Sam Sacco. There’s some big-time names in there.
Patch: What does being inducted into the Hall of Fame mean to you personally?
Preuss: I think it just means you’re proud of it, but you accept it on behalf of these guys. I’ve had great assistant coaches, I’ve had supportive parents, terrific athletes. You got into the Hall of Fame, but you go into it as a representative of all of them because of what they’ve done.
Patch: Being the coach at Glenbard South as long as you have, you’ve got to have so many great memories of teams and individuals.
Preuss: There have been so many good teams. You look at the accomplishments the kids have made, but there’s also the stories and every day at practice. That’s a lot of fun. You have some really good times and you really get to know the guys. As you look at the accomplishments, I think the run we had with the cross country program in the 1980s when we made it downstate all those years in a row. In 1999, we were sixth in the state and missed a trophy by 19 points, and we ran awesome that day. I was as happy that day as I was when we won it. Then we won it in 2001 and we were third in 2002.
And the track has been remarkable lately. The Nike 2-mile relay that won that national title. I miss a lot of things in cross country because I’m at the end of the course, but to be in the stands for that one (winning the national championship), I lost it; I admit it. And last year, Garret Payne winning the 400. Up and down the line, there’s so many different memories. Mickey Beebe, who is what I’d consider our first real great one back in the ’80s. We kind of measured everyone against Mickey all those years. He set the standard. Then it was Tim Schaefer after that. We went from the Schaefer group to the (Andrew) Teague group into the Micah group and into the Kuhlmans (Kevin and Dan). Then things came alive in track. We’ve had Ben and Brandon Matthies and Garret and Andrew Payne. We’ve been very fortunate with the brother combinations.
Patch: You’ve been coach for 29 years. What keeps you coming back?
Preuss: The kids keep you coming back. It’s always a different group and always different goals, and you keep pushing them. That’s what keeps you coming back.
Patch: You’ve got quite a few standouts on this year’s track team. Can you talk about the team?
Preuss: We’re pretty good. We’ve got John Wold, the freshman distance runner who broke all the freshman distance marks indoors (4:29 in the mile). He could score downstate as a freshman this year. He sets big goals. But we start with Garret. Garret is a thoroughbred. He’s run faster already indoors this year. He’s the real deal. Joe Boesso placed seventh in the state meet as a sophomore in the high jump and last year he was fifth. He’s jumped 6-6 indoors already. Joe’s brother, Nick (a junior), broke our school record in the shot put indoors (52 feet, 3 inches). That record stood since 1975. We have four shot-putters that are throwing awesome right now (Nick Boesso, seniors Kyle LaPointe and Leonel Ocampo, and junior Torey Fobbs).
Wesley Sanders, who’s a good football player, is a junior and was the sectional champ in the 200 last year. Lamar Johnson was on the 400 relay that scored downstate last year (with Payne and Sanders). The mile relay, you’ve got Garret who’s the anchor, Grant Gibson and Affan Khan. We’ve got a talented bunch of young guys. A couple of guys we’ve got from cross country that are banged up right now, Collin White and Kyle Berenschot, are returners on the 2-mile relay with Grant Gibson. Elven Walker is having a terrific year in the hurdles and he’ll be on the sprint relays as well. There’s a lot of balance and a lot of depth.