Letter: A letter from Kaneland boys cross country coach Chad Clarey
It was fitting that our 15th state team qualifier for boys finished in the top 15 this year. Losing great seniors a year ago, we may have surprised some people by earning our third team berth in the last four years.
Sophomore Kyle Carter (53rd overall, 15:45) led our charge again this week. He put himself out in the mix of top 40 runners and raced very well for his first time in the state finals. He will go down as the fastest Kaneland sophomore to ever run at state, and just 20 seconds from our school’s best time, set by Trevor Holm a year ago.
Kyle has been a busy young man, not taking a single weekend off of racing since Labor Day. That’s a long grind for any runner. He never complained; just laced up his spikes and gave it his all.
The best of friends, John Meisenger and Conor Johnson, finished in a near-dead heat, with Conor outleaning John for 79th and 80th overall places, respectively. Very nice to see Conor back up in a scoring role, he helped us with for much of the season. His smile at the end may have been one of the highlights on the boy’s side of the Kaneland day. Meisenger passed plenty through the final two miles, using his surges very well. His consistency and toughness are key ingredients to what we will bring next fall.
Junior Brandon Huber (108th, 16:16) has been a special “find” this year. He found out early on that he could compete with Johnson and Meisenger. He hangs in there so well and gives us a consistent punch with the top four. He was brilliant on a weekly basis, and we look forward to what he’ll do as a senior.
Our fifth scoring runner, Miroljub Marin (159th, 16:40) completed our tally with a strong finishing kick. In his first year out for the team, he learned a great deal and helped give us the chance to compete at finals. He cares a lot about his teammates, and he is a very dedicated athlete. His leadership was always present, and we are fortunate to have had him.
Runner No. 6 Luis Acosta, a sophomore, gained very valuable experience today. He used his great speed at the end to close on Marin in the end, and pushing the score up on six other teams. We hope he has turned a corner on his thoughts about running these distances. He’s a super 800 runner and young, but this is his second state meet, and the experience will pay huge dividends later in his career.
Senior Clayton Brundige (190th, 17:04) was a rock-solid veteran leader who has been to this meet before. A two-time alternate, he gleaned a great deal of understanding about leadership from the Valles, Markusons and Reusches of his early years. To cap his cross country career with his entire family in tow was special. Clayton is as nice a young man as you can meet—sincere, yet a heck of a runner. I hope he has a huge track season and goes out in style at state.
We return five of seven runners next fall. Experience was a big factor for us in today’s race. We got it. They are motivated by it. To do more, we’ll have to give more in training and all the other sacrifices a great team makes. There’s no question we were blessed this year, and losing our senior class, including Nate Rehkopf and others, will be a blow. But this team has a hunger now, which will only be satisfied by making a return trip to Detweiler.
Well done, Knights. You’ve made our program shine once again.
KHS cross country coach