April always time for KHS track atmosphere to shine
KANELAND—KHS track always seems to rise to the occasion, no matter the location.
For the month of April, the chance to rise, and go a little farther happens in a setting that has been home to top-of-the-class track competition.
For a handful of years, the Jill Holmes Invite, Jenni’s ABC Invite and the Peterson Prep have occupied three Saturdays in April, giving the best Kaneland and its invitees have to offer.
Renamed in 2001 for the Kaneland Hall of Fame member and former athletics director of the school, the Jill Holmes Invite has seen KHS girls track athletes shine since 1979.
Jenni’s ABC Meet—done in tiered “A,” “B” and “C” levels according to ability—is held in memory of former KHS athlete and cross country captain Jenni Kirwan, who died in a car accident in September of 1998.
The Peterson Prep, capping off the whirlwind track tour, yields the best boys track has to offer from Kaneland and others, and has a chance to do it again in its 45th year. The showcase, named after Bruce Peterson and recognizing his four-decade body of work as coach and AD, allows Kaneland to win consecutive Prep showcases.
“I think the meets offer solid competition and I think teams know when they come to any of those three meets, that it’ll be efficiently run,” interim AD Ralph Drendel said.
The month makes for a busy time on the organization end, but worth it.
“The Jill Holmes Invite offers great competition, Jenni’s ABC meet celebrates a young lady taken away too soon, and the Peterson Prep gets great teams up and down the Fox River Valley and has pretty good competition, and they know it’ll run smooth,” Drendel said.
The Peterson Prep, which housed 18 teams last year and saw KHS nab three of four relay events en route to a team trophy, offers KHS head coach Eric Baron a showcase.
“The Peterson meet has had some amazing talent over the years,” Baron said. “We take great pride in putting on a meet that shows respect to the talent of that meet. Bruce Peterson and Ralph Drendel set the bar very high for hosting quality meets that are set up for the athletes to perform well at. I try my best to continue that level of meet.”
With the Holmes invite history for another year, a level of greatness has made its way through the lanes, as eight of the meet records still standing were set by IHSA State champions.
It’s cause for a level of pride for the girls track program.
“Hosting a meet gives parents, relatives, friends a chance to see the KHS athletes compete without traveling,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “We have a tradition here at KHS of hosting quality meets with very good competition, The Holmes has been going on for 40 years, one of the oldest girls invitational meets in the state. Some of the best track & field athletes in the state have competed in this meet through the years.”
The Peterson Prep’s starting gun goes off on Saturday, April 26, at 10 a.m.