by Skip Stolley,
Chairman, Chicago Area Track & Field Organizing Committee, Inc.
ELBURN—This Saturday, Kaneland High School will host the Class AA IHSA Regional Championship at Elburn Woods.
The girls’ three-mile race will start at 10 a.m., and the boys’ race will step off at 11 a.m. It will be one of 45 qualifying meets for the 2012 Illinois State Cross Country Championships being held statewide this weekend at the A, AA, and AAA divisions.
In each division, the top seven teams, and top five individual finishers from non-qualifying teams, will advance from the regional to the sectional championships next weekend, Oct. 27. The top five teams and top 10 individual finishers from non-qualifying teams from the state’s five AA sectional meets will advance to the State Championships at Peoria’s Detweiler Park on Nov. 3.
The Kaneland boys are led by junior Kyle Carter, who has been a top 10 finisher individually in every meet this fall, including those dominated by ranked 3A teams. Behind him, their chase pack has been led by senior Conor Johnson, who has had a breakthrough season in leading the Knights’ pack to running closer to Carter meet by meet, week by week.
On the girls side, another underclassman, sophomore Victoria Clinton, has led the Lady Knights this season. She has won five races this fall and placed no worse than third in invitational meets featuring as many as 23 teams, earning her designation as a “National Elite” runner by ESPN.com. Behind Clinton, freshman Briana Bower has emerged as the Lady Knights’ No. 2 runner and seniors Amanda Lesak, Abby Dodis and Maggie Brundige have been running within an arm’s length of one another as their No. 3, 4 and 5 finishers.
Competing with Kaneland in the Elburn Woods Regional this Saturday will be Burlington Central, Crystal Lake Central, Prairie Ridge, Hampshire, Rochelle, Sycamore and Woodstock high schools. Advancing from the eight-team regional on their home course should be no problem for either Kaneland team. However, at the Belvidere North Sectional Meet, to which they will advance the following weekend, both the boys’ and girls’ 21-team fields will showcase five of the state’s top 11 ranked 2A teams, and seven of the top 23, all vying for one of just five state-qualifying births.
Elburn Woods has only enough parking to accommodate participating teams and the meet staff, so spectators are to park at Kaneland High School, where three free shuttle buses will ferry them every 10 minutes to the Forest Preserve, which is only about five minutes away.