Eleven separate events qualify for Charleston, Ill., State gathering
KANELAND—You can’t count out the Kaneland High School girls track unit just yet, if anything, because the IHSA Class 2A State finals would have many holes to fill.
The Lady Knights made themselves at home during the Class 2A Freeport Sectional on Friday afternoon, winning the event and getting 11 separate events through to Eastern Illinois University and the IHSA Class 2A State finals.
Kaneland’s 100-point total was two better than rival Sycamore, while Freeport (70), Boylan Catholic (62) and Burlington Central (61) rounded out the top five. Sterling (47), Dixon (35), Genoa-Kingston (23), Winnebago (23) and Pecatonica (14) completed the top 10 rankings.
Kaneland’s bounty headed to EIU begins with Elle Tattoni, who first qualified in the discus with a fourth-place effort of 112 feet, four inches, and became shot put sectional champion with a mark of 37-08.
In the high jump, Kaneland’s Maddie Keifer finished second with a mark of 5 feet.
“It was terrific and a great experience,” Keifer said. “I didn’t know what to expect going in, but to get out of Sectionals was really great.
The whole team keeps our spirits up, and they made me realize I want to be like that.”
Christina Delach of Kaneland punched another ticket to Charleston, Ill., by winning the pole vault with a mark of 10-03.
In her second year of qualifying, Delach decided to mix it up.
“This year was a lot less strength training and more technique. It was me getting out of my own way, mostly,” Delach said.
Nicole Sreenan continued to cap her stellar freshman season by conquering the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.55 seconds.
Brianna Bower, with an 11:27.84 time, took third in the 3,200m run and qualified for State.
In relay action, the Kaneland foursome of Jessica Kucera, Aislinn Lodwig, Sydney Strang and Becca Richtman took third place with a 9:50.84 time, after an initial time issue was later resolved by the IHSA and the unit was allowed into the State gathering. A #letkanelandrun hashtag had been repeated on Twitter to compel the IHSA to allow Kaneland in.
Strang, who qualified in both the 4×800 and 4×400, was relieved at the eventual good fortune.
“We would have qualified with a 9:50, but the clock circuit went out mid-race. They just told us they’d take the top two, even though we made it. We found out Saturday night, so we were pretty bummed for awhile,” Strang said.
In the 4×100 event, KHS took first with a 50.13 effort. The 4x200m relay had Kaneland finish second at 1:47.36 for another State qualification.
Sreenan found another berth with a second place in the 400m dash with a time of 57.54.
Relay went Kaneland’s way again in the 4x400m, thanks to a first-place 4:04.29 effort.
“The 4×800 is heavily distance girls, and the 4×400 is sprinters.
They’re all different groups, but we all mesh together,” Strang said.
The 2A finals begin on Friday and conclude on Saturday at Eastern Illinois University.
sparks social media push
for Lady Knights relay
by Ben Draper
KANELAND—Late Friday evening, Kaneland pole vault coach Andy Drendel posted a frustrated tweet on social media website Twitter.com. At the end of the post, he included a hashtag: #LetKanelandRun. Over the next 24 hours, a whirlwind of support surrounded a relay team that thought they had qualified, but due to an IHSA rule, had the opportunity seemingly stripped from them.
Earlier that evening, the FAT (Fully Automated Timing) system went down at the worst-possible time: in the middle of a race at the Freeport Sectional. Due to a IHSA rule stating that if there aren’t official FAT times at a sectional meet, only the top two teams would be allowed to advance to this weekend’s state meet. This meant that Kaneland’s 4x800m relay of Jessica Kucera, Aislinn Lodwig, Sydney Strang and Becca Richtman, who placed third and were over eight seconds under the qualifying time, would not be allowed to compete at the IHSA State meet.
However, Drendel’s tweet spurred support from not only the Kaneland community, but from athletes, coaches, teams and more from all over the state. Newspapers published opinion pieces calling for a common sense solution. Coaches scratched their heads at how an opportunity could so easily be taken away from deserving athletes. But the #LetKanelandRun hashtag kept the momentum alive, with many directly mentioning the IHSA on Twitter or over email, but receiving only silence from the organization.
Kaneland head girls coach Doug Ecker said Saturday that he didn’t expect a reversal on the decision.
But shortly after 10 p.m. on Saturday, the IHSA showed it was in fact listening. The organization announced that Kaneland, as well as the fourth-place team Rock Falls, would in fact be allowed to compete in Friday’s state meet prelims.
It took some behind-the-scenes actions from interim athletic director Ralph Drendel working with IHSA Assistant Executive Director Ron McGraw on Saturday, but the best possible scenario played out for the four girls that should have been assured they earned a spot the day prior: The IHSA would in fact #LetKanelandRun.