High School Co-op Teams


With the public versus private school debates…I’m surprised that there has not been much talk about co-op programs. There’s several schools that co-op for cross country or track. What’s your thoughts on co-op schools (can be other sports)? I have been asked several times by schools if I would be interested in forming a co-op program. I always say no because it would bump us up a division. Recently I was asked to co-op with a school that would allow us to stay in D2. WIAA applications forms need to be filled out, discussions with school board, AD and schools need conference permission to co-op. All seem easy until the conference permission.
If schools form a co-op program is it seen as an unfair advantage?


I take it this comment comes on the heels of Dodgeville/Mineral Point’s Joe Hanson being named WI Girls Coach of the year by USTFCCCA?


Is it an unfair advantage to form a co-op? It’s really a case-by-case analysis. I’d say in most cases no, it’s not unfair, but others yes. Freakish exceptions always seem to find their way into the mix.

One of the strangest occurrences ever in WIAA history came these past two springs with Brittany Davis, a resident of Scales Mound (IL), whose school participates in the Benton/Scales Mound/Shullsburg tri-op track program. Beyond a successful competitor she is now our D3 state record holder in the 800m for girls and simultaneously was a resident of IL.

How is that logical fair?

In the case of Nekoosa/Port Edwards cross country, the parent school Nekoosa makes up over 90%+ of the team. Absorbing Port Edwards doesn’t alter things that much during a typical year for Nekoosa. Except when Arnie Schraeder – a Class C/WIAC legend himself hailing from Port Edwards–has a son of similar stature and joins someone like Ben Eidenschink of Nekoosa to form a fierce duo in cross country.

Is it fair? Or maybe the better question is, is it unfair to be lucky?

I think forming co-ops is necessary for some schools who aren’t within 35-40 miles of a top ten most populated city in Wisconsin and have enrollments that are traditionally lower. The “nether regions”, if you will, need this rule in order to form complete teams. But you’re right, it get’s extremely dicey.

The MPS co-op cross country programs really test the waters on the issue. Most of those schools have decent enrollment numbers. For this subset of schools, cross country is not a traditionally popular sport and people don’t care enough to complain about it. It’d be neat if the MPS co-ops became successful and force fed this as an imbalance.

But comparing apples to apples, what if MPS co-oped in basketball or baseball? What if Menomonee Falls and Germantown formed a co-op for football and other sports? Or what if Brookfield Central and Brookfield East co-oped for soccer? You can bet people would protest including parents from within.

If WIAA schools with big enrollments and schools outside of WI are all eligible to form co-ops with a WIAA member parent school, it would appear the flood gates are open pending conference approvals as you suggest!


Being from northern WI, I saw too many good distance runners who attended schools that simply didn’t have the numbers and/or resources to offer cross country. I was from a Class B school (1970s) and our conference (Heart of the North) only had 4 or 5 complete teams at the conference meet. The Class C conferences were obviously worse off…a lot of talented distance runners never got to run cross country unless they were able to compete with another school or they ran by themselves. I knew a couple of 4:30 milers who never competed in the fall, which was a real shame because they were very talented runners and only trained/raced during the spring months.