Ecker’s crew has young, old as formula for success
Photo: Andie Strang has established herself as a threat at any distance and looks to finish her Kaneland tenure with a flourish. Photo by Linda Bell
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Here comes Lady Knights track.
If the early practice sessions and indoor season were any indicator, many a girl in KHS garb will be finishing quite well in 2011 races.
Second-year head coach Doug Ecker is eager to see what the large roster can do, with a mostly healthy lineup.
“The indoor season was encouraging,” Ecker said. “The most encouraging thing is all the distance runners are healthy and we’ve been consistent,” Ecker said. “When we get outside, we’ll have to have a little more depth.”
So far, the three big names to pop up are senior Andie Strang in the distance and relay events, senior Brooke Patterson in pole vault and triple jump and freshman Lauren Zick in sprints and long jump.
“We knew Lauren was fast, she has the temperament and she’ll do what the coaches ask her to do. She listens well,” Ecker said.
Sophomore and state qualifier Ashley Castellanos has excelled in the jumps, as well.
Gabby Aguirre returns and looks to make a mark in the jumps.
With a Division II career ahead of her, Strang is ready to go for the distance events, but Ecker believes a challenge lays ahead.
“This conference is going to be brutal for distance. She can run extremely well one meet and get fifth in the mile. You have so many good distance runners,” Ecker said.
Sydney Strang and Kris Bowen also look to add to the distance ranks for Kaneland.
For relays, the 4x800m team could be in store for big finishes. The Strang sisters, Bowen and Castellanos, will all see time in that event along with Jessica Stouffer. The 4x200m has Sydney Bilotta and Ariana Espino ready to go with Patterson.
Kaneland looks to continue the pole vault excellence.
“Brooke is very good and works very hard, and Sydney Luse has worked very hard, and Shannon Wallace will give us some depth, too,” Ecker said.
Junior Nicole Ketza looks to rise in the weight events after a good late-season run.
Kaneland is still looking for young hurdlers to take the reins in that event.
The stronger each event is, the better for the Lady Knights in the new Northern Illinois Big XII scheme.
“Our conference is maybe one of the better conferences in the state. You throw in every event, we are really solid,” Ecker said.