Girls Cross Country Preview: Big returns

Photo: The KHS girls cross country team race out of the starting line in last year’s action at Elburn Woods. The Lady Knights’ home opener is Tuesday, Aug. 28. Freshman Aislinn Lodwig (below) ended her season in 2011 with a 59th-place finish, passing 25 runners in the last half-mile at Detweiler Park in Peoria, Ill. File Photos

Familiar core could equal success for girls XC
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—How can you replace a Lady Knights girls cross country squad that finished eighth in the Class 2A meet a year ago?

It’s relatively easy when nearly the entire team returns to do it all over again. Now, they’re a year older, more experienced, and battle-tested.

Paced by sophomore Victoria Clinton’s ninth-place finish, senior Maggie Brundige’s 35th-place finish and sophomore Aislinn Lodwig’s 59th-place at the Peoria gathering a year ago, Kaneland has a unique benefit of bringing back a team familiar with success.

“Every runner’s different, and they have individual goals,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “I think we’ll have good depth, but I’m not sure of the order.”

Sydney Strang, Abby Dodis, Amanda Lesak and Ashley Castellanos rounded out the top seven and bring upperclassmen leadership.

“Lesak saved us last year for never having been a distance runner, and finished 80th in the State meet, and she’s strong. They all bring depth,” Ecker said.

A KHS athlete would need to be exceptional to break through the upper echelon of the team this year.

“You throw in the eighth-grader from last year, Brianna Bower, who’s very talented, and we’ll go pretty deep,” Ecker said.

Ecker also touted Jessica Kucera as a possible contributor to a winning pace.

“We just have to get better and find out what they do and their goal; my goal is to get them to a State meet,” Ecker said.

The full roster will be needed in order to compete against not only the State field, but the ultra-competitive Northern Illinois Big XII Conference.

“You had four teams from the conference finish in the top 11 in the state (Yorkville, Kaneland, DeKalb and Dixon). Yorkville’s lost their top three, but they return an All-State runner and they’ll be strong again. Dixon will be good,” Ecker said.

The 2012 quest begins on Tuesday, Aug. 28, against West Chicago and Wheaton Academy at Elburn Woods.

Varsity roster
Seniors
Carolina Tovar
Juniors
Maggie Brundige Abby Dodis
Angalia Carbonara Lisa Jennings
Ashley Castellanos Amanda Lesak
Natasha Ring
Sophomores
Anna Piazza Sydney Strang Victoria Clinton Aislinn Lodwig
Freshmen
Jessica Kucera
Breanna Geller
Katrina Ismaili

Varsity Girls Cross Country Schedule
• Tuesday, Aug. 28; 4:30 p.m.
Home against Wheaton Admy.,
West Chicago
• Saturday, Sept. 1; 9:15 a.m.
At Oregon Invite
• Tuesday, Sept. 4; 4:30 p.m.
Home against E. Aurora, Yorkville
• Saturday, Sept. 8; 8:30 a.m.
At Wauconda Invite
• Saturday, Sept. 15; 9 a.m.
Home—Eddington Meet
• Saturday, Sept. 22; 9 a.m.
At Rock River Run—Sterling
• Saturday, Sept. 29; 9:30 a.m.
At Freeport Pretzel Invite
• Saturday, Oct. 6; 9 a.m.
At Sterling Invite
• Saturday, Oct. 13; 9 a.m.
At LaSalle Peru
NIB XII Conference