Former Badger runners gather for reunion, remember 1988 National Championship

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - It was a reunion at Alumni Park today for former Badgers on UW’s Cross Country team in 1988, the year they won the National Championship .

“Some of it’s like frozen in time, you know I haven’t seen a lot of these guys in decades and you’re kind of frozen in your memories to right back to that time,” said alum Mike Huffman.

“It just feels comfortable. It feels like being at home,” added Phil Schoensee, another member of the team.

This team of Badgers worked hard to win the 1988 Cross Country National Championship.

“You look back at that season and who was our top runner in one race versus the next week a different top runner…another one the next time. We were kind of interchangeable parts and that made it special. Complete team effort,” said Huffman.

What was even more special was the fact that the Badgers two seasons before, finished 16th in the NCAA, knowing from within they had to pick up the pace.

“For the first time every one of us took our personal goals and put them aside and every one of us said we want this title whatever it takes,” said alum Rusty Korhonen.

“I think it’s a team that toiled in the trenches together,” said Huffman.

After falling on their face that season, they made a commitment with their face. The team collectively decided they wouldn’t shave until they won the championship.

“The first thing we did when we won was we got some shaving cream. So right before we got on the podium there was a whole bunch of shaving cream out and everyone cutting their faces up trying to get the beards off. It was just a lot of fun,” said Korhonen. “And we all cut off about 15 years.”

The Badgers aren’t sure of the next time they’ll all be together but the memories of 1988 will run in their hearts forever.

“I firmly believe that the name on the front is more important than the name on the back. And being part of a history of Wisconsin Cross Country and Track was huge,” said Schoensee.

“I think one of the reasons why we’re so close even today is we worked our guts out. And we earned that title. We earned it. We worked so hard to get there,” said Korhonen.