Donn Behnke grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and attended Marshall High School where under the guidance of coach Leo Potochnik he developed a passion for distance running. He competed in cross country and track at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where he earned degrees in history, geography, and a master's in education. Donn taught high school and junior high social studies in the Stevens Point School District for 31 years before retiring in 2010. He remains the head cross country coach at Stevens Point Area Senior High where in 38 seasons his teams have appeared in 36 Wisconsin state meets and earned ten state titles. This record ties the program for the most state titles in the modern era of Wisconsin high school cross country.
Donn has been named Wisconsin Cross Country Coach of the Year on nine occasions and in 2001 the National High School Coaches Association awarded him National Coach of the Year honors. He has coached six individual state champions. Two of them, Keith Hanson and Chris Solinsky, went on to become NCAA Division I national champions. More than any of these accomplishments, Donn enjoys helping runners of all ability levels grow, improve, and fall in love with the sport of cross country.
While he is a well established story teller, this is Donn's first attempt at writing something longer than a grocery list.
Where to buy in print
The Animal Keepers
by Donn Behnke
The Animal Keepers tells the true story of the Stevens Point High School cross country team and their unforgettable journey through the 1985 season. Joined by first year runner Scott "The Animal" Longley the year takes an unexpected turn as this most unlikely hero leads them on a quest for a state title.
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