Photo: Lauren Zick looks to make her sophomore season more amazing than her freshman campaign in the 400m run. File Photo
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Numbers are down, and the roster no longer includes assets like Andie Strang, Kris Bowen and Brooke Patterson.
But third-year Lady Knights girls track head coach Doug Ecker is eager and optimistic about what returns.
“We lost good kids, but we picked up some,” Ecker said. “Our numbers are down overall. We have some crossover from a successful cross-country season. So far, so good. We have some kids hurt, but we’ll make the most out of our depth.”
A fifth-place finish at the Kane County Invite and four events with a State seal of approval meant a big finish to 2011.
Still around from the Charleston group are sophomore Sydney Strang, who was in the 4x800m relay, and sophomore Lauren Zick, who finished ninth in the 400m dash.
“Zick is a great athlete and can run anything from a 55 to an 800, with her best race probably the 400, and has improved in the long jump. Sydney did well in the distance events and is getting faster and stronger,” Ecker said.
The indoor track season provided a nice barometer, but slots still need to be figured out.
“It is different, with no discus and no low hurdles, but things still need to get hashed out,” Ecker said.
Going the distance for KHS this season will be personnel like Strang, who has had a nice start in the mile event, as will Amanda Lesak, in events like the 4x800m.
Lesak will also be counted on in the hurdle events, as well.
“She’s someone that we hope will do well in the hurdles and middle distance races,” Ecker said.
Nicole Ketza, Brittany Kemp and freshman Elle Tattoni are getting looks in the field events, with Ketza and Kemp having hours chalked up in the shot put and discus.
“Kemp is someone that did the shot for us as a freshman, and Marina Schaefer is someone we are looking at for big things in the discus once she bounced back from injuries,” Ecker said.
Sydney Luse returns for her junior year, having placed in the hurdles and pole vault.
“We have good kids in these events, but we’d like to shore up our depth because you have to score in a lot of events,” Ecker said.
For sprints, returnee Ashley Castellanos will see time after excelling in the triple jump last year.
“DeKalb and Sycamore have some of the fastest girls in the state, but Ashley is right up there, as well, and will help us,” Ecker said.
A place is being looked at for senior Kelly Evers, who is coming off of injuries the past track season after going to Charleston three years ago in the 4×800 relay.
Other veterans who carry over from last year’s track group and cross-country are juniors like Gabby Aguirre, Maggie Brundige and Abby Dodis.
“Maggie has been injured in the past, but I think she’s gotten past that now and she’s done well for us so far,” Ecker said. “Abby has already run 12-flat for the 2-mile. They would be stars in any other conference, but our conference is so top-heavy with distance runners, it’s unbelievable.”
Kaneland hopes for a strong body of work this season, and a productive homestretch.
“Conference is important. Geneseo, DeKalb are up there and Dixon is getting stronger, not to discount anyone else. We don’t quite have the depth they do, but we’ll be right there with them.