Photo: Knights boys cross-country braves the August environment, and key losses from a year ago. Photo by Mike Slodki
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—On a mid-August day with creeping humidity, the Knights boys cross-country pack attacks practice in a business-like manner—like it’s part of the day’s task.
Don’t let the demeanor or method fuel you, as the passion runs deep for Kaneland’s crew.
They’ll need it to nullify the graduation of State-goer Trevor Holm (Western Illinois University), Grant Alef (University of Minnesota) and Tommy Whittaker.
“They see this almost as a part-time job, but the passion is there. A lot of these kids, this is their favorite sport,” 17th-year head coach Chad Clarey said. “For some, it’s track, but for a lot of them, they really enjoy cross-country.”
“A lot of them see the tradition we’ve had in the past, and they aspire to write their own chapter,” Clarey adds.
On the senior side, Clayton Brundige, sectional entry Nate Rehkopf and newcomer Miki Marin provide a fourth-year spark.
“Senior leadership is very important. We’ve graduated great seniors in the past, but they’ve left their mark,” Clarey said.
Other seniors include Austin Paulson, Kelvin Peterson and John Michek, who Clarey finds have been leading by example with their work put in.
Juniors are varsity returnees and top-7 placements John Meisenger and Conor Johnson, allowing with Nick Messina, Ryan Paulson, Gus Stott, Brad Kigyos, Nicholas Albano, Chris Wido, Brandon Huber, Joey Pollastrini, Brayden Miller and Joe Kuipers.
“John and Conor are two names that will be relied upon heavily to make up that top five,” Clarey said.
Spearheading the sophomore movement with a chance at varsity time are Luis Acosta, Ryan Bower, Kyle Carter and Nathaniel Kucera. Additonal sophomores include Garrett Patterson, Dylan Kuipers and Phil Cutsinger.
Freshman on the Knights’ radar include Adam Lesak, Brandon Park, James Walker and Zachary Justus.
Clarey is eager to see improvement meet consistency, especially in a tight Northern Illinois Big XII.
“Yorkville is the clear-cut favorite, and we’d like to be in the top three. I think we have the capabilities of doing that,” Clarey said.
The season’s starting gun fires on Tuesday, Aug. 30, against West Chicago and Wheaton Academy.