Brodhead's Larsen makes Hall
Gary Larsen, who built Brodhead High School into a perennial power in two sports, is about to receive another of the state's highest coaching honors.
Larsen, who retired in 2008, will be inducted Saturday into the Wisconsin Track Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2002.
The track induction program, which is part of the association's weekend clinic, is at 1:15 p.m. at the Wyndham Airport Hotel near Mitchell Field in Milwaukee. Tickets for the luncheon are $20 and may be purchased at the door.
The event also will honor Randy Pickering, the longtime public address announcer, who will receive the Merit Award for his 40 years of service to Janesville Craig and state high school track.
In addition to Larsen, the 2011 inductees include coaches Richard Glendenning of Monroe, Richard Helling of Marathon and Dennis Holt of Schofield Everst, along with former athletes Gavin Bell, Monona Grove; Darrin Charles, Oshkosh North; Kelly (Miller) Lillge, Monroe; and Brittany (Rusch) Daly, Oshkosh North.
Larsen, a UW-Whitewater graduate, is being honored by the track coaches for nearly 40 years of service to the sport, including 34 as a head coach. He began as an assistant at Fennimore from 1971-74, then served as the Brodhead boys head coach from 1975-2008.
The Cardinals won three WIAA Division 2 team state championships under Larsen—1994, 1995 and 2003. He was named WTCA state Coach of the Year each of those seasons.
Larsen's teams also compiled a 286-65 dual record, won 16 conference championships, 13 regional titles and four sectional trophies. In addition, the Cardinals produced nine individual state champions in the Larsen era.
As the Cardinals' head football coach for 24 years, Larsen started the Brodhead/Juda co-op program on a string that has now reached a state-record 19 straight WIAA playoff appearances. He retired from football after the 2004 season with a 167-77 career record.
Larsen's teams earned the first 13 of those playoff appearances, compiling a 108-33 record during that stretch. His teams were eight-time Rock Valley champions and had an 81-8 league record over the last 13 years, including a 34-game conference win streak.
The Cardinals were WIAA Division 4 state runners-up in 2003 and reached the semifinals in Larsen's last football season.
"The word 'pride' gets thrown around a lot, but we really meant it here, and the kids responded," Larsen said in reflecting on his coaching experiences.