June 1, 2020
By David Nordby
The Brillion News
BRILLION – Gunner Schlender will leave Brillion this summer for the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater to be a two-sport athlete in cross country and track.
Those two sports ended in Brillion for him as the antithesis of each other. He last competed in track as a sophomore. He missed his junior year with an injury and saw his senior year canceled to a pandemic.
His cross country career ended with him helping the Lions to second in the state, the highest finish in the program’s history last fall.
“It was historic for us as a program and definitely the climax of my high school career,” Schlender says.
Now in the fall, Schlender will start his college career as a Warhawk, the same school that his father, Jeff, played football and that his grandfather, Karl, coached for 20 years from 1974 until 1994.
Karl served in numerous roles, including six years as head men’s gymnastics coach, 20 years as an assistant football coach, nine years as assistant men’s and women’s track and field coach, and as the men’s and women’s head track and field coach for nine years.
Karl coached the men’s track team to six top twenty finishes in a NCAA championship and the women’s team finished in the top twenty nationally three times.
Jeff accepted Karl’s posthumous induction into the Whitewater Hall of Fame in 2011. Karl hired current cross country head coach Jeff Miller to the program in 1984.
“At first I kind of underappreciated that aspect of it. I kind of blew it off,” Schlender said. “The further I went along in the process of trying to find a school, the more I appreciated the fact that there’s already coaches and people there that care about me before I even knew.”