USC’s Viesselman sweeps section awards

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 9, 2002

WELLS &045; Kent Viesselman has enough honors and awards to fill more than one trophy case, but he’s quite certain the most recent ones won’t be lost in the shuffle or quickly forgotten.

The 2002 season was a special one, according to Viesselman. His United South Central/Alden-Conger girls’ cross country team finished third in the state meet, and his United South Central boys’ team surprised many by advancing to state for the 10th consecutive year.

It earned Viesselman the continued respect and admiration of his peers, who voted him the Section 2A coach of the year for both boys’ and girls’ cross country.

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Viesselman wasn’t a little surprised.

&uot;I was a lot surprised,&uot; he said.


&uot;I’ve had a lot of those kind of honors, and there’s a tendency to pass them around a little bit,&uot; said Viesselman. &uot;I would have been surprised to get one. To be coach of the year for both, I was shocked.&uot;

It was the 10th time Viesselman was chosen section coach of the year for boys and the second time for girls. He was the boys’ state coach of the year in 1994 and has been inducted into the Minnesota Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame.

Viesselman said the 2002 season, his 39th as a head cross country coach, was memorable for more than one reason.

The pairing of the USC and Alden-Conger girls went extremely well, according to Viesselman, and resulted in the highest finish ever for a USC cross country team at state. Viesselman and the Rebels were introduced on the stage during the awards ceremony, receiving a trophy and individual medals.

&uot;The girls have some talent, but they also put in a lot of summer miles,&uot; said Viesselman. &uot;They’re athletes who realize that to be successful, you have to pay the price.&uot;

The USC boys also realized it, according to Viesselman, laying the ground work for a successful year with hundreds of miles in the summer. They also got a couple new runners out for the first time and had some remarkable improvement in others.

&uot;Everything just kind of fell into place for the boys,&uot; said Viesselman.

That wasn’t the case for Viesselman’s coaching career, which started a little on the slow side, and he said it can serve as an example for young coaches who are impatient for success and don’t give their system enough of a chance.

Viesselman coached for 17 years before he won his first district championship in track and field. He went on to win 21 more.

&uot;A lot of coaches quit before they get to 17 years,&uot; said Viesselman. &uot;Coaches are too impatient now. I think it takes six years to build a program, and that’s with the right people in the school and if everything goes well.&uot;

As for the coach of the year awards, Viesselman said he has two thoughts.

&uot;It makes me feel good to know the people I’m up against think that well of me to select me for an award like that,&uot; he said. &uot;But really, those awards belong to the kids. Coaches with (unsuccessful) teams year after year don’t get those awards.

&uot;The boys and girls competed and acted in such a way that it attracted the attention of those coaches, and that’s how you get those awards,&uot; continued Viesselman. &uot;As much as I’d like to take credit for that, I know it starts at home. A lot of it has to do with the parents.&uot;