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"A generational athlete": De Pere sophomore hopes to lead team to state

"A generation athlete": De Pere's Lenn aims for state title
Posted at 6:44 AM, Sep 30, 2023
  • De Pere boys cross country has not won the Fox River Classic Conference since Chris Hendricks and Jackie Joseph became co-head coaches a decade ago — a streak which they hope to break in 2023
  • Sophomore Grady Lenn leads the charge, as Lenn currently holds the second-fastest 5,000-meter time in Wisconsin
  • Lenn has won each of his five races this year by at least 33 seconds and broken the meet record at all five along the way
  • Video shows Lenn and the De Pere team meeting and running along the Fox River on Friday

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

De Pere High has a new sports star — but he doesn't play on Friday nights under the lights.

"We've had five races and he's broken all five meet records," co-head coach Chris Hendricks said.

De Pere cross country sophomore Grady Lenn is just getting started.

"I won all my races in dominant fashion," Lenn said, "so I feel like I haven't even hit my best race yet, or best time."

Grady was already Wisconsin's fastest freshman last year, and now he is the second-fastest runner statewide. Hendricks says he has never coached an athlete with Grady's talent.

"He's a generational athlete," Hendricks said. "We're just super fortunate and lucky that his journey happens to be running through our team."

When Grady runs his 40 or 45 miles every week along [the Fox River] trail or other roads of De Pere, he does them with his teammates. This year, he wants to run with his teammates somewhere else — the state championships, which he qualified for individually last year.

"That is one thing I like about cross country more is the team aspect," Lenn said. "You're going into the race with your guys and you're in it with them."

The boys team has been first or second in each meet this season, and Hendricks says the girls also hope to qualify for state. Senior captain Jessica Rolain say the friendships and culture of the 90-person team are critical to its success.

"I feel like a lot of people think that cross country is just such an individual sport, but it's really a team thing," Rolain said.

If captain Enoch Thielhelm and Grady have anything to say about it, the Redbirds will be a force to be reckoned with at state.

"I want this team to be conference and sectional champs and to be a top ten, top five team at state," Thielhelm said.

"The job's not done," Lenn said. "I gotta get to the state meet and really show what I have."

Grady's 5K personal best time is 15:11 — that's 4:53 per mile! Not bad for a guy who only started running long distance last year as a freshman.