Photo: Junior Will Kuipers was the Knight’s third man at Sycamore Tuesday, running the 3-mile course in 18:00.9 and placing 43rd. Photo by Mary Paulson
Top 10 finish for Knights at Sycamore
SYCAMORE—Losing quite a few runners to graduation in May has thrust more Knights into the varsity fray for the Kaneland boys cross country squad. Despite that, the Knights kicked off the 2014 campaign with a seventh-place team finish at the annual Sycamore Invitational at Afton Forest Preserve in DeKalb Tuesday.
“Looking at the powerful lineup of teams that field this invitational, we were very interested in seeing how our team faced off,” head coach Chad Clarey said. “Coming away with seventh was a very nice start for our team. Some programs have had a few races under their belts, so we like the opening results.”
Leading the way for the Knights were seniors Brandon Park and Mitch Reger. Park finished 36th in 17 minutes, 48 seconds, while Reger was .1 second behind in 37th.
“Reger was a nice surprise to be our No. 2 tonight,” Clarey said.
Following the seniors were a pair of juniors—Will Kuipers (43rd, 18:00.9) and Sean Spaetzel (45th, 18:04.3)—that completed a 16-second 1-4 split for the Knights.
“16 seconds between our top four scoring runners is pretty sweet,” Clarey said.
Junior Aaron French, in his first varsity race, finished 63rd overall in 18:47.7 to complete the scoring five—and a 59-second split. Senior James Walker (72nd, 19:07.9) and junior Zach Kurz (103rd, 20:14.9) rounded out the top seven Knights.
Another bright spot for the Knights was a freshman/sophomore race victory for freshman Matthew Ritchman. The rookie completed the 2.42 mile course in 13:31.3, 10 seconds ahead of Stephen Poorten of Sycamore. The freshman/sophomore team placed third as a unit in the 13-team field.
“We certainly have room to grow, but there are a lot of great things we saw tonight, and from such an inexperienced group,” Clarey said. “Losing a lot of depth to graduation hurt us; however, we see this as a fresh start with a new group of hard-working athletes. They pack up well, understand our same approach to racing, and leave everything out on the course.”
The Knights travel to the Harvest Christian Invitational at 9 a.m. Saturday.