Photo: Senior Andie Strang looks to get back to State for the Lady Knights in 2010. File Photo
by Mike Slodki
KANELANDâ€”With a roster that returns several that missed State a year ago, motivation is available aplenty for Lady Knights cross-country in 2010.
The season of 2009 ended at the Class 2A Belvidere Sectional, but with a captain triumvirate of seniors Kris Bowen, Jessica Stouffer and Andie Strang returning, helped out by a talented group, the finish line of courses could come up faster this season.
Thatâ€™s providing that the overall collective health of the girls is better than a year ago.
â€œWeâ€™re fine this year, so far,â€ head coach Doug Ecker said. â€œObviously, the biggest problem the last two years was not work ethic. Kids were getting hurt and sick, but so far.â€
Strang, who ran a 19 minute, 16 second course at last yearâ€™s regionals, comes off a State trip for girls track, making a winter stress fracture a distant memory.
â€œSheâ€™s run well for us, three-time all-conference and a very good leader. Her and Kris Bowen have been in the top seven since they were freshmen,â€ Ecker said.
Shaela Collins, Arianna Espino and Kaitlin Munyon round out the senior corps with Ecker hoping for slots in the Lady Knights top ten.
Sophomore assets Maggie Brundige and Abby Dodis return after dealing with various injuries and illness a year ago that hampered the bottom line. Fellow sophomore Ashley Castellanos (19:17 in regionals) also returns to help the sophomore group.
â€œIf nothing happens, we should be in pretty good shape. Our main goal is to stay healthy,â€ Ecker said.
Perhaps the most intriguing addition to the squad comes in the form of a familiar face from 2008, junior Jen Howland.
Howland skipped last year for injuries and to compete in the triathalon circuit. Howland is now eligible to star in the 2010 ITU Junior Triathlon World Championship in Budapest, Hungary in September.
â€œShe hasnâ€™t had an opportunity to run for her high school in a while. I think she likes the opportunity to run with the kids she goes to school with,â€ Ecker said.
Howland joins Carolina Tovar and Alexis Villarreal on the junior side.
Freshmen are Brooke Howland, Anna Piazza and Sydney Strang.
Strang impressed in the middle school ranks.
â€œSydney was among the top, if not the top middle school runner in the area last year. Sheâ€™s got talent and sheâ€™s worked hard and if she runs consistently sheâ€™ll do well for us.,â€ Ecker said.
The Lady Knights arenâ€™t going for any drastic leaps and bounds, just taking care whatâ€™s in front of them.
â€œWe just stress doing what youâ€™re supposed to do and practicing and the times will come,â€ Ecker said.
The Lady Knights host West Chicago and Wheaton Academy on Tuesday, Aug. 31 and host the Eddington Invite on Saturday, Sept. 18. The regular season ends with the Northern Illinois Big XII meet on Saturday, Oct. 16.