KANELAND—The Kaneland High School football team went 9-0 this fall. It was the first time in school history the sophomore team has been undefeated.
Led by head coach John Pavlak, the Knights allowed only 53 points all season, compared to their 181. They opened the season with a 7-0 win at home over McHenry, then earned a win over Sterling, 6-0. Rich Central was dispatched on Sept. 12 40-20 before KHS earned their first road win—a 21-7 battle over Yorkville. Back at home on Sept. 26, the Knights defeated DeKalb 25-6 and shut out Sycamore 20-0 the following week. On Oct. 10, Kaneland beat Morris 27-14 and beat La Salle-Peru 7-6 in their closest game of the season Oct. 17. In the final game on Oct. 24, the Knights earned their fourth shut-out of the season with a 28-0 win over visiting Rochelle.
“Our kids worked hard from the middle of July through the end of the season,” Pavlak said. “They worked well as a team.”
The lower level football teams practice together at KHS, so the sophomore team was a combination of freshman and sophomore players, according to Pavlak. The focus of the coaching staff—Brian Aversa, Mike Thorgesen, Matt Smith, Steve Auchstetter and Pavlak—is to develop the players in the fundamentals of football, and to install the philosophy of the program.
“The kids had a couple of specific goals at the beginning of the season, which was to defend our home field and to win conference—they achieved both,” Pavlak said.
Pavalk said he is excited to see the sophomore team join the current juniors as they move into their varsity playing years.
“Being successful at the varsity level is the ultimate goal (and) why the team works hard and continues to improve fundamentally,” Pavlak said. “Their record this year is something that they should all be proud of, but it should ultimately be used as a reminder of what it took to get there and that they need to continue to do all those things in the future in order to be successful.”
STERLING, ILL.—A loaded field helped propel the Lady Knights to several personal bests at Saturday’s Sterling Invitational.
Even with coach Doug Ecker running some of his top individuals at the freshman/sophomore level, KHS still managed a 14th-place team showing with 359 points, 23 points behind conference-mate Dixon. Schaumburg won with 55 points, followed by Minooka’s 67. Minooka’s Ashley Tutt, Mackenzie Callahan and Emily Shelton went 1-2-3 individually.
For Kaneland, Briana Bower paced the team with an 18th place in 18 minutes, 52 seconds. Bower, who is still working her way back from a stress fracture, was 12th in 2013 in 18:39.
Senior Victoria Clinton was next for Kaneland in 36th place with a time of 19:36. Jessica Kucera was behind her in 66th place, running the 3-mile course in 20:09.
“Kucera continues her steady season with a time of 20:07,” Ecker said. “(That’s) a PR for her.”
Also in the mix for the varsity group was Carly Bartholomew (110th, 21:34), Grace Drake (135th, 22:47), Lilah Klingensmith (143rd, 23:34) and Murphy Garcia (144th, 23:46).
Freshman Andrea Wells paced the frosh/soph squad with a runner-up finish, while Sarah Daley was 12th in the younger race.
The Lady Knights’ next challenge with be the Northern Illinois Big 12 conference meet, held at Rochelle high school. The varsity girls run at 10 a.m., and are followed by the frosh/soph girls at 11:15 p.m. and the JV open at 12:30 p.m.
BYRON, ILL.—A unique format gave coach Chad Clarey a chance to feature a different lineup than usual.
The Knights, idle the this past weekend in preparation for Saturday’s Northern Illinois Big 12, last saw action at the Byron Handicap Invitational Oct. 8.
The handicap format features 10 runners from each school. The No. 10 runner begins when the gun goes off, and then 20 seconds later, the No. 9 runner is allowed to begin. No. 8 waits another 20 seconds, and so on until the No. 1 runs three minutes after the initial gun went off.
Resting seven of his usual top ten, the Knights still pulled off an impressive runner-up finish, trailing the Rock Falls Rockets by only two points.
“Unfortunately Rock Falls took the top three places overall, which gave them just enough points to seal the team title by two,” Clarey said.
Austin Kintz, the Knights’ No. 1 runner, ran 18:37 to pace KHS with a 4th place finish.
“Austin started three minutes back of the first flight of runners and managed a 4th place finish,” Clarey said. “His actual time was 15:38 over 2.87 hilly miles.”
Freshman Henry Nosek was the next Knight, finishing in 7th place with a time of 18:51.
“We feel (Nosek) is just starting to scratch the surface of his true potential,” Clarey said.
A mass of Kaneland runners stingily took up the 9th through 12th spots, as Zach Kurz (9th, 19:02), Ben Smith (10th, 19:06), Aaron French (11th, 19:08) and Sam Webster (19:09) finished in a cluster. They were followed by Nick Moses (15th, 19:13,) Andrew Lesak (23rd, 19:52), Anthony Messina (30th, 20:08) and Jared Murri (56th, 26:46).
“Overall, (it) was a nice night for the team with many individual awards,” Clarey said.
Next up for the Knights is the annual NIB-12 gathering, this time at Rochelle High School. The boys varsity runs at 10:45 a.m., with the boys fr/so race at noon and boys open race at 1:15 p.m.
KHS ends September on strong note
STERLING, Ill.—Patience is key when it comes to long distance running.
For a season that begins in mid-August, runners usually don’t start to see the fruits of their labor until the cooler October weather hits.
But the Lady Knights cross country team decided to begin their upward trajectory a week early, putting together their best team effort of the season Sept. 27 at Sterling High School’s Rock Rive Run Invitational.
KHS placed third in the 17-team meet with 122 points, just one ahead of Hononegah. Geneva, fresh off their win at last week’s Eddington Invitational at Kaneland, took the team championship with 37 points over Belvidere North’s 44. Belvidere North was the runner-up at the Eddington Invite.
Kaneland also placed third at the 2013 edition of the Rock River Run with 134 points.
The Lady Knights, currently ranked No. 16 in DyestatIL.com’s most recent poll, were paced by Brianna Bower’s 19 minute, 32.2 second effort, which was good enough for 14th place out of the 173 runners in the race. Freshman Andrea Wells (20th, 19:47.2) was next for Kaneland, followed by Aislinn Lodwig (23rd, 19:52), Victoria Clinton (27th, 20:05) and Jessica Kucera (39th, 20:50.5). Kaneland’s scoring pack split of 1:18.3 was far better than last week’s 2:30 split.
Head coach Doug Ecker was pleased with the overall improvement week-to-week by the girls squad.
“It was a nice race for Brianna Bower with only two weeks of running after missing seven weeks with a stress fracture,” Ecker said. “Another solid race from freshman Andrea Wells and senior Jessica Kucera.”
Also running for KHS in the varsity race were Sarah Daley (48th, 21:10.9), Carly Bartholomew (79th, 22:19.2), Olivia Galor (82nd, 22:28.4), Grace Drake (86th, 22:50.0), Lilah Klingensmith (99th, 23:23.2), Samantha Sommerville (114th, 24:05.4), Murphy Garcia (120th, 24:25) and Haley Penkala (150th, 26:26.2).
Kaneland travels to Freeport, Ill., on Saturday for the annual Pretzel Invitational, starting at 9:30 a.m. on the campus Highland Community College.
First regular-season home loss since 2009 sees KHS fall to 2-1
MAPLE PARK—As the saying goes, “You can’t win them all”— but it’s been a quite a run for the Kaneland Knights football team.
An impressive home winning streak was snapped by the visiting Rich Central last Friday, as the Olympians edged the Knights 14-13.
You’d have to look to Week 8 of the 2009 season to find the last time KHS lost on Peterson Field—a 27-24 overtime loss to Geneva. The 2009 season-opener against Huntley marked the last time a non-conference opponent won at Kaneland.
“Our defense played very well,” said Knights head coach Tom Fedderly. “We played a good team and our kids had to play a four-quarter game. There were a lot of positives.”
The stat lines on Friday saw the Knights dominate in almost all facets of the game, out-gaining the Olympians 322 to 185 yards, and dominating the time of possession 30:22 to 17:38. The only key stat that RC led was passing, out-gaining the Knights 212-109. The Knights defense held RC to -27 yards rushing and forced two turnovers.
The Knights got on the board first, with a 24-yard field goal by junior Drew Franklin. Rich Central scored almost immediately after on a spectacular 86-yard catch-and-run by Olympian DeQuan Dudley. The Knights blocked the point after attempt to keep the score 6-3.
In the second quarter it was Franklin again, this time with a 30-yard field goal to lock the score up at 6 all. Senior Danny Hammermeister (eight tackles, two for a loss) came up with three big tackles for the Knights late in the second quarter, forcing a punt. With only :20 to go in the quarter, the Knights couldn’t find the endzone.
After penalties pushed RC to a 3rd and 20 in their own zone, senior Brandon Kigyos intercepted DaQuan Richie. Shortly after, junior Tyler Paulson stiff-armed and fought his way 20 yards for the Knights’, touchdown. After a Franklin PAT, the Knights lead was 13-6.
But with 2:14 to go in the third, it was the speedy Dudley again, catching a pass from Richie for 57 yards and a RC touchdown. A two-point conversion attempt was good via Jordan Fuqua, making it 14-13 heading into the fourth quarter.
The final quarter was a seesaw battle of possession. With 1:49 left, Kaneland forced RC to punt on 4th and 25, eventually getting the ball back on RC’s 34 yard line. Kaneland converted on a 4th and 3 with :29 seconds to go. After taking a couple chances to the endzone, it was Franklin’s turn to try to win the game with a field goal with 7.7 seconds left from the Kaneland 18. The junior’s kick missed and RC squeaked away with a hard-fought road victory.
“I was happy how we competed right down to the last play,” Fedderly said. “We made some big plays in the last drive to give us a chance to win. Unfortunately it didn’t work out for us.”
Friday sees the Knights take to the road for the first time in 2014, visiting the 3-0 Yorkville Foxes at Campbell Field. The Foxes have outscored their opponents 119-37 this season, including a 38-24 win at home over Rochelle last week. Last year, head coach Karl Hoinkes led the team to their first playoff berth since 2002. Between his time at Oswego (26 seasons) and Yorkville (4th season), Hoinkes has 205 wins and 103 losses, including two state championships with Oswego. The last time Yorkville defeated the Knights was a 34-13 homecoming win at YHS on Oct. 5, 2002.
Photo: Senior Brandon Park notched two victories in as many meets, while freshman Matthew Richtman was second at Elburn Woods Tuesday. Photo by Ben Draper
Invite win and flawless run at home round out boys cross country week
KANELAND—Senior Brandon Park can’t complain. It’s been two individual titles to go along with two-straight wins for the Knights cross country crew.
On Saturday, Park was the champion at the inaugural Harvest Fall Classic, hosted by Harvest Christian in Elgin, Ill. His effort of 17 minutes even bolstered a strong showing by the rest of the roster en route to a 47-60 win over runner-up Elk Grove.
“Brandon took over the lead in the first mile of the race,” said KHS coach Chad Clarey. “A pair of Elmwood Park runners, who had beaten him earlier in the week, made it a great race. In the final 400 meters, Park simply wanted it more and put on an impressive surge to the finish.”
Senior Mitch Reger (sixth) and junior Will Kuipers (seventh) cracked the top 10, finishing in 17:46 and 17:49, respectively.
“It was a very competitive day out of that top three,” Clarey added.
Junior Sean Spaetzel (15th, 18:25) and James Walker (18th, 18:48) rounded out the KHS scoring five, while Zach Kurz (21st, 19:36) and Alex Gale (22nd, 19:43) rounded out the top seven.
Also running in the varsity race but not factoring in the scoring were juniors Austin Parks (27th, 20:22), Ben Smith (34th, 21:54) and Brandon Cruz (37th, 22:54).
In the 2 mile junior varsity race, the Knights placed seven runners in the top 11. Freshman Matthew Richtman won in 11:39.
On Tuesday, the likes of East Aurora, IMSA and Yorkville came calling to what would be the only time the Kaneland cross country team will compete at their usual home course of Elburn Woods. Kaneland is scheduled to host an IHSA Sectional Nov. 1 at the high school, and will also run their annual Eddington Invitational at KHS, as well.
The Knights took advantage of their one chance to compete in “The Woods” by sweeping the top six spots and scoring a perfect 15-point victory.
Park again notched an individual victory, crossing the finish line in 17:53. He was followed by Richtman (18:01), Spaetzel (18:07), Reger (18:27) and Kuipers (18:29) before the first non-Knight finished 18 seconds behind in sixth.
Clarey was especially pleased with how his seniors competed in their final go-round at their usual home.
“The seniors took pride in their last run on their ‘least’ favorite course,” Clarey said. “Park took hold early and pushed hard through the finish. Reger battled to stay within reach of the leaders. Walker ran with a great deal of pride to hold off a charging teammate. Josh Kasap also demonstrated the same courage and will to win, out-kicking a teammate.
“All of our seniors have been the perfect fits for leadership of this year’s team, which is filled with youth and new runners. I’m very proud of their effort and dedication,” Clarey said.
The Knights now set their sights on Saturday’s First to the Finish invitational at Peoria’s Detweiller Park, which is also home to the IHSA State Meet. Thirteen of the top 25 teams in DyestatIL.com’s most recent 2A poll be be in attendance. The 2A boys race runs at 11 a.m.
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.
Photo: Senior Aislinn Lodwig led the Lady Knights at Sycamore on Tuesday, placing 20th overall with a time of 20:53. Photo by Mary Paulson
Lady Knights open season at Sycamore
SYCAMORE—It was a subdued start to the 2014 season, but that was the plan.
With only four girls toeing the line at Afton Forest Preserve in DeKalb for head coach Doug Ecker’s varsity lineup, the Lady Knights cross country team didn’t factor into the team scoring for the annual Sycamore Invitational, Tuesday. But the four that ran took full advantage of the opportunity.
“It was a good start to the season,” Ecker said. “Even though this was an invitational, we tried to downplay it and just find a starting point to begin the season.”
Senior Aislinn Lodwig led the way with a 20th overall performance, with a time of 20 minutes, 53 seconds.
“Lodwig had her best race to start off the season. Aislinn has really embraced the leadership role as a senior, with the departure of the senior captains, and it has had a positive impact not only on her teammates but her as well,” Ecker said.
Ecker was also pleased with sophomore Sarah Daley’s performance, thinking she can make an impact for the varsity squad as the season progresses. Daley’s time of 22:12 was good enough for 41st overall.
Senior Jessica Kucera was 54th in 22:32.6, while junior Carly Bartholomew finished 77th with a time of 23:47.2.
The youth movement occurred over the 2.4 mile JV race, where freshman Andrea Wells was second overall with a time of 16:50.1 to lead Kaneland to a third-place team finish. Sophomore Becca Ritchman was seventh overall with a time of 17:39.4, while Grace Dodis also cracked the top 10 with her 10th-place finish in 17:58.8. It was the first race for both Wells and Ritchman, according to Ecker.
“Dodis ran very well and is much improved over last year,” Ecker said. “It was nice to see senior Grace Drake (24th, 18:45.8), in only her second year out for cross country, pick up a medal in the JV race.”
The girls cross country team heads to the Oregon Invitational Saturday at 9:30 a.m.
228 runners test themselves on the streets of Sugar Grove
SUGAR GROVE—Andy Derks made it two-for-two at the 2014 Corn Boil 5K.
After winning the event in 2013 with a time of 16 minutes, 12.1 seconds, the Sugar Grove resident won the event again this year with a time of 16:15.9.
“I moved to Sugar Grove last year, and thought it would be fun to do a race in my new hometown,” said Derks, who is also the cross country coach at Plainfield North High School. “I plan all summer to do it, but I just like to use it as a hard workout and part of my marathon training.”
Derks plans on competing in the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
Yorkville resident Lena Palmer was the overall female winner. A former all-state runner with the Lady Foxes in cross country and track, the current Aurora University runner was surprised she was the female winner.
“I was pretty shocked that I won because the year that I did run it (2011), there was a lot of competition,” Palmer said. “The race didn’t go as well as I wanted it to, but it was still a pretty good race.“
Overall, 228 runners completed the race, ranging from 4-year-old Tess Muth of Yorkville (219th place; 47:33.6) to 74-year-olds Tyger Johnson of Dakota, Ill., (30th place; 23:04.7) and Phyllis Wells of Aurora (207th place, 43:25.5). The event has averaged over 257 runners per year since 2002, with the fewest running in 2002 (123) and the most in 2009 (355). The 2014 race had the fewest runners since 2010’s 224.
“We were down a little,” said Karen Pritchard, Superintendent of Recreation for the Sugar Grove Park District. “This year we didn’t have our Park District running club in the event.”
The running club brought in approximately 30 more registrations for the event.
“Maybe people thought it was going to rain,” Pritchard said. “I really thought we would have bigger numbers this year.”
Even with the slight dip in numbers, enthusiasm for the event hasn’t diminished in the eyes of Derks.
“I hope to continue to run the Corn Boil 5K every year,” Derks said. “I love the laid back atmosphere. I love the fact that I can roll out of bed and go sign up 30 minutes before the race.”
Photo: Senior Issac Swithers runs the opening leg of the 4x160m Relay at Sycamore on Feb. 26. The relay won, and Swithers went on to place second in the 55m and 200m dashes. Photos by Ben Draper
SYCAMORE—The Kaneland boys track team started the 2014 season with a team win at a four-team meet at Sycamore Feb. 26.
Individually, the Knights won eight of the 15 events—and had won another before a controversial interference call led to the disqualification of the 4x800m Relay—to amass 92.5 points. Host Sycamore was second with 75.83 points, while Grayslake North (35.67) and Yorkville (21) rounded out the field.
Event winners included Nathanial Kucera in the 400m (54.37) and 3200m (10:36.68), Kyle Carter in the 800m (2:08.20), Dylan Nauert in the 55m Hurdles (8.34), the 4x160m (1:19.48) and 4x400m (3:40.80) relays, Dylan Kuipers in the Pole Vault (14 feet), and Nate Dyer in the Shot Put (52’ 3”).
The Knights had even more contributions in the scoring department. Issac Swithers placed second in both the 55m (7.15) and 200m (25.40) dashes, and Gary Koehring (27.40) placed fifth in the 200m, as well. In the 800m Run, Zack Wielgos (2:12.8) placed second while Jimmy Walker (2:20.70) was fourth. In the 1600m, Ryan Bower (4:52.89) was second, with Adam Lesak (5:06.28) just behind in third. Brandon Park was second in the 3200m with a time of 11:24.48, while Brock Robertson was second in the 55m Hurdles with a time of 8.49. In the field events, Dan Evers was second in the pole vault with an 11’ vault, and was also second in the triple jump with a 36’ 4.5” leap. In the shot put, Shane Jorgensen placed third with a 49’ 5.5” throw.
Up next for the Knights is the Coach DiDimenico Invitiational at Batavia Friday at 4:30 p.m.
It was a high-flying Sunday in Morris, as the Northern Illinois Big 12 conference cheerleading squads travelled to the home of the Redskins for the annual NIB-12 Conference Cheerleading Competition. The Lady Knights left with a ninth-place showing as a team, but featured All-Conference athletes in Mattie Garrison, Denise Gombar and Nicole McClellan. KHS also recieved two all-conference honorable mentions for Alexis Lund and Jessica O’Donnell. Freshman Amber Evans (above, left to right), sophomore O’Donnell and freshman Rylee Born show their Kaneland spirit at Sunday’s NIB-12 Competition at Morris High School.
The preschool-kindergarten students of Chesterbrook Academy in Sugar Grove stopped by the Elburn Food Pantry Thursday with donations of food, toys and gift cards, just in time for Christmas. The Elburn Food Pantry is located in the Elburn and Countryside Community Center, 525 N. Main St. in Elburn. Donations are accepted at all times of the year. Photo by Ben Draper
35 points by offense overshadowed by defensive gem in first round
KANELAND—Drew David and the Knights offense was clicking, but it was the other side of the ball that stole the show.
The Knights opened the 2013 playoffs in dominating fashion, picking apart the visiting Hampshire Whip-Purs 35-0.
Defensive coordinator Keith Snyder was very happy with how his unit played.
“I was really happy with how the kids responded,” Snyder said. “We’ve been trying to get back to being a little more simple and letting the kids play football after the Sycamore game, and the last two weeks they’ve done a heck of a job doing it.”
On Friday, the Knights’ defense was always in the right spots to make plays.
“We tried to dial it down to let the kids fly around and be aggressive, and they’ve really responded,” he said.
Senior Gary Koehring, who led the team with 8.5 tackles, led the defense, which has given up an average of only 10.5 points through last Friday’s game.
“Our defense played awesome; we all are buying into what coach Snyder has us doing,” Koehring said, “Everyone is doing their jobs, and we’re just playing as a whole unit.”
Koehring was impressed with his teammates’ contributions, too.
“Tyler Carlson played really well; he had two interceptions. He’s done a really nice job filling in for our two graduated guys last year in Korey Harner and Blake Bradford,” Koehring said. “Andy Kray steps up as a sophomore; he’s been doing really good this year.”
Carlson also had a tackle for a loss, and Kray had one of three sacks for the Knights.
“Everyone has just stepped up as a unit this year,” said Koehring.
The Knight’s offense was impressive, too. Junior Isaac Swithers got the Knights on the board on their third possession with a three-yard touchdown run with 2:56 left in the first quarter.
The Knights drove the ball well early in the second quarter, with key catches coming from senior John Pruett (five catches for 91 yards), and were rewarded with another Swithers TD run, this time from the goal line.
Later in the second, after a Brandon Bishop 51-yard touchdown pass was called back due to a penalty, David found junior Connor Fedderly for a seven-yard TD pass with 1:57 to go before the half.
Two third quarter touchdowns: a four-yard run by senior Nate Dyer after a nice drive, and a quick strike 14 yard pass from David to senior Tyler Slamans as time expired in the third quarter finished the scoring on the night.
However, a scary moment came with 7:51 left in the third quarter, when Bishop (seven catches, 91 yards) had to be taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons after taking a helmet to the back on a punt return. The senior did give his teammates and the Peterson Field crowd a thumbs up as he was loaded into the ambulance. Head coach Tom Fedderly said Bishop’s playing status wouldn’t be determined until late in the week.
Hampshire finished the night with only 84 yards of total offense, and had just four first downs.
“To do what we did tonight and with the turnovers, (to give up) only four first downs and to shut a team out in the playoffs—that’s a total team defensive effort right there,” Snyder said after the game.
Snyder credited his unit’s preparation for keeping the Whip-Purs offense in shambles.
“It starts in film study, and they’ve been phenomenal. They see things I haven’t even seen, and I pride myself in studying film,” Snyder said.
Snyder was quick to credit the rest of the defensive staff.
“Their position coaches do a tremendous job with them—Pat Ryan with the inside linebackers, Marcus Goedken with the defensive line and Ryan Gierke with the defensive backs—so when they get to me, I can just coach them on some smaller things, and then they just know what is going on out there,” Snyder said. “It makes my job much easier when you have smart football players that play like that.”
The Knights now travel to Joliet, Ill., to take on the Joliet Catholic Hilltoppers at Joliet Memorial Stadium on Saturday at 7 p.m. The winner of the second-round matchup will face the winner of the Montini Catholic/Marian Catholic matchup in the Quarterfinals.
BURLINGTON, ILL—In the race for state, the Kaneland boys cross country team is heading in the right direction.
With a trio of seniors leading the way, a return trip to the state meet might be in the cards at Saturday’s Belvidere sectional.
Led by senior Kyle Carter’s 10th place in 16 minutes, 9.9 seconds, and a 14th place by senior Nathaniel Kucera (16:19), the Knights placed third in the Burlington Central Regional last Saturday. Vernon Hills was crowned team champion, while Crystal Lake Central placed second. CLC’s Ryan Pitner’s 15:26 was the best time of the day individually.
Behind his fellow seniors Carter and Kucera, Ryan Bower was the Knights third runner, placing 26th with a time of 16:47. Junior Andrew Lesak (28th, 16:47), sophomore Sean Spaetzel (31st, 17:00), and seniors Luis Acosta (34th, 17:04) and Phil Cutsinger (42nd, 17:25) rounded out the Knights.
Although the Knights advanced to the sectional, veteran coach Chad Clarey knows adjustments still need to be made for the Knights to advance.
“The split between our two and three (runners) will need to get tightened up,” Clarey said. “28 seconds is too much.”
However, it’s not the first time the battle-tested seniors have been entered in the historically tough sectional.
“Given the course we’re heading to, we’re confident that the seniors of this team will use their experiences to help tighten things up even more,” Clarey said.
The sectional is just as tough in 2013, with six of the top 25 teams in Class 2A represented in the field. No. 3 Vernon Hills is the favorite, but might be challenged by No. 6 Crystal Lake Central and No. 7 Dixon. No. 12 Sterling, No. 19 Belvidere North and No. 25 Kaneland will battle for the final two spots. The Knights defeated Sterling as recently as two weeks ago at the NIB-12 conference meet.
BURLINGTON, ILL.—One down, one to go in the Kaneland quest for the state meet.
Coach Doug Ecker’s crew, led by a sixth-place finish by sophomore Brianna Bower, secured fourth place at the competitive Burlington Central Regional last Saturday, and more importantly a spot at this Saturday’s Belvidere Sectional.
“The girls finished a respectable fourth at the very competitive 2A Regional,” Ecker said. “Brianna Bower ran her usual strong race to lead the team.”
Bower, running an 18 minute, 42.8 second time over the 3-mile course, was 24 seconds behind individual champion Vivian Overbeck of Vernon Hills.
Junior Victoria Clinton secured an 11th place finish with a time of 19:01 as the second KHS runner to finish. She was followed by three Lady Knights that were within seconds of each other: seniors Sydney Strang (19th, 19:56), Erika Carlson (20th, 19:58) and junior Aislinn Lodwig (22nd, 19:58) packed it up to finish the team’s scoring. Anna Piazza (33rd, 20:30) and Jessica Kucera (46th, 21:09) rounded out the top seven.
The Lady Knights, now ranked eighth in the latest DyestatIL poll released Tuesday, have their work cut out for them at the Belvidere Sectional.
Including the No. 8 Lady Knights, the sectional features No. 3 Crystal Lake Central, No. 5 Vernon Hills, No. 9 Lake Forest, No. 11 Marengo, No. 19 Belvidere North, No. 22 Woodstock and No. 23 Lakes. Only five teams qualify from the sectional to the state meet.
The sectional takes place on the grounds of Belvidere High School, with the girls racing for their chance at the state meet at 10 a.m.
KHS girls cross country wins Pretzel Invite
FREEPORT, Ill.—The Kaneland girls cross country team is getting healthy at the right time.
After their early schedule saw ups and downs with injuries, the group put together a solid effort at Freeport High School’s Pretzel Invitational on Saturday, winning the 11-team meet with 50 points, six ahead of runner-up Boylan’s 56.
Head coach Doug Ecker was pleased with his team after their performance. It was the third year in a row the Lady Knights have been victorious at the land of the Pretzel.
“The girls continue to show improvement both individually and as a team as the season progresses,” he said.
Defending 2A State Champion Victoria Clinton led the way for KHS, posting a second-place finish with a time of 17 minutes, 52 seconds. Freeport’s Ellie Willging was first in 17:47.
Brianna Bower was next for the Lady Knights, posting a fifth-place finish in a time of 18:08.
“Bower continued her string of top 10 finishes,” Ecker said. “(It was) a 30-second improvement over last year.”
Newcomer Abby Shaw contributed as the No. 3 Saturday, placing 13th with a time of 19:41.
Erika Carlson continued to improve as well, besting her 2012 time by 60 seconds, placing 14th in 19:41 this year. Sydney Strang cracked the top five once again, by placing 16th with a time of 19:54.
Rounding out the Lady Knights were Anna Piazza (23rd, 20:28), Aislinn Lodwig (29th, 20:36) and Jessica Kucera (35th, 21:46).
Up next for the Lady Knights is another trip to Sterling on Saturday for the Sterling Invitational. Racing begins at 9 a.m.
FREEPORT, Ill.—Being shorthanded may be a problem for other squads, but not the Knights boys cross country team.
Competing Saturday at the Freeport Pretzel Invitational without their top two runners this season in Nathaniel Kucera and Ryan Bower, the Knights still placed second in the 10-team field.
Winnebago ran tough, placing their scoring five all in the top 13 of the race to run away with the team title with 45 points. Kaneland was next with 78, followed by Rock Falls’ 108, Boylan’s 111 and Jefferson’s 123.
For coach Chad Clarey, it’s all about the packs for his group, and for a second week in a row, the Knights were running together throughout the field.
“Our team continues to do a nice job of packing up, finishing in groups,” Clarey said. “Our top three raced within 10 seconds of each other, and our fifth through seventh also split seven seconds between one another.”
Kyle Carter, who has been progressing since he began running again a little over two weeks ago, led KHS with a 10th place finish with a time of 16 minutes, 2 seconds. Carter was the top Knight a year ago.
“He is battling and taking small victories on this road to full strength,” Clarey said of Carter.
Luis Acosta had a break through race, finishing 11th, and just five seconds behind Carter. Andrew Lesak was the third Knight to finish, placing 15th in 16:12.
Brandon Park ran aggressive, placing 20th overall with a time of 16:46.
Then another KHS pack of Brock Robertson (25th, 17:03), Phil Cutsinger (27th, 17:06) and Mitch Reger (28th, 17:10) finished in a cluster.
Clarey was pleased with Robertson, a senior in his first year on the cross country team, performed.
“(He) finished as our No. 5 today, and he really pushed himself hard through the first 1.5 miles to establish that position,” Clarey said. “He has shown strong improvement these past four weeks.”
Dylan Kuipers (42nd, 17:42), Jimmy Walker (48th, 18:08), Phil Rawers (86th, 21:23) and Connor Pennington (88th, 21:40) also competed for the Knights.
With conference looming, the Knight harriers headed to the Byron Invitational Wednesday (results not available before press time) before the head west to their annual stop at the Sterling Invitational Saturday.
“We will hopefully be back at full strength and depth at conference (Oct. 19 at Morris),” Clarey said. “In the meantime, we work to get healthy, freshen up, and keep pushing that pack further toward the front of the field.”
Clarey is optimistic about his team as they head into the home stretch of the season.
“It’s tough to be patient, but we feel good about where we are headed with such a tight-knit pack,” he said.
Girls CC looks for October improvements
STERLING, ILL.—As the calendar turns to October, it’s time for cross country teams to start coming together and jelling.
The Kaneland girls cross country squad decided to start a little early, with a solid effort in their annual late September stop at Saturday’s Rock River Run, hosted by Sterling High School.
The Lady Knights were third out of the 15 teams with 134 points, behind only Belvidere North (117) and champion Geneva (49). Northern Illinois Big XII conference-mate Dixon actually tied KHS with 134 points, but Kaneland’s sixth runner, Anna Piazza, broke the tie by placing 49th—Dixon’s sixth runner placed 69th.
Kaneland was led by the 1-2 tandem of sophomore Brianna Bower and junior Victoria Clinton. Bower cracked the top 10, placing eighth with a time of 18 minutes, 58 seconds. Clinton was nearby, placing 13th in 19:19.
“Brianna Bower and Victoria Clinton once again ran solid races to lead the varsity,” head coach Doug Ecker said. “Both are looking to make some dramatic improvement in the next few weeks.”
Senior Erika Carlson was the next Lady Knight to finish, placing 35th in 20:23. Junior Jessica Kucera placed 42nd in 20:35, and freshman Abby Shaw closed out the KHS scoring by placing 48th in personal-best 20:57.
“Erika Carlson continues to impress each week with her consistent effort and improvement,” Ecker said.
Also competing for the varsity race were Piazza (55th, 21:12), Noelle Espino (62nd, 21:29), Sydney Strang (64th, 21:32), Aislinn Lodwig (68th, 21:42), Murphy Garcia (135th, 24:34), Grace Drake (146th, 25:27) Christina Delach (147th, 25:31) and Kayla Hedgren (155th, 26:35).
The freshman/sophomore team also placed fourth in the meet, led by top 15 efforts by Katie Huber (7th, 22:29) and Carly Barholomew (15th, 23:02).
Next up, the girls cross country team heads north to the home of the Pretzels for the Freeport Invitational Saturday at 9 a.m.
Boys CC packs it up at ACC
AURORA—A change of format at the Charger Classic, hosted by Aurora Central Catholic at Oakhurst Forest Preserve in Aurora, saw the Kaneland boys cross country team in the gold, larger-schools division of the annual event. The gold division not only included four ranked teams in 2A or 3A in Dyestat’s weekly poll, but a strong Trinity team from Kentucky and Linn-Marr from Ohio.
Kaneland placed 11th with 251 points, just seven behind neighbor Burlington Central. Trinity won the meet with a scant 63 points, followed by Linn-Marr’s 81 and local Batavia’s 101.
Although finishing in the middle of the field, KHS head coach Chad Clarey was pleased with his group’s efforts.
“Our team continues to build some momentum, this week with a very solid pack split of just 24 seconds (from first to fifth runners),” he said. “Brandon Park capped a 40-second pack split from 1-7.”
Leading the way with a tremendous final kick to the finish, Nathaniel Kucera ran a 15:52 to place 40th overall. He was followed closely by Ryan Bower’s 15:54, which was good for 44th.
Luis Acosta (57th, 16:12) led the next three Knights, who were separated by only four seconds, which included Andrew Lesak (59th, 16:15) and a recuperating Kyle Carter (60th, 16:16).
“There’s a big ‘up’ side to this team,” Clarey said. “The way they feed off of one another within the race bodes well for our future in the post season.”
Phil Cutsinger and Park were neck-and-neck with each other, placing 73rd and 74th with times of 16:31 and 16:32, respectively.
The Knights also had three more competitors in the varsity race, with Mitch Reger (91st, 17:04), Brock Robertsen (94th, 17:13) and Dylan Kuipers (108th, 17:33) all contributing.
“We had a great team day, and look forward to getting healthier, faster and stronger team results as the season winds down and we head to October,” Clarey said.
Photo: Kaneland senior Sydney Strang continued her solid start to the season, earning a fourth-place finish in Oregon, Ill., Saturday. File Photo
Lady Harriers run strong Saturday
OREGON, Ill.—The Lady Knights trekked to Oregon High School Saturday, and left with numerous individual accolades.
In a meet where no team score was kept, Kaneland placed six girls in the top 30 in the varsity race.
Brianna Bower again led the way with a time of 20 minutes, 32 seconds, which was good for third place overall. She was followed closely by Sydney Strang in fourth place, with a time of 20:42. Jessica Kucera also cracked the top ten, placing ninth with a time of 21:26.
“The three mile hilly Oregon High School course is very challenging on a good day to run,” head coach Doug Ecker said. “Today with the hot, humid, sunny conditions, all the girls did a very good job.”
Rounding out the Lady Knights varsity was Anna Piazza (15th, 22:00), Erika Carlson (17th, 22:14) and Noelle Espino (29th, 22:56).
The good times continued in the girls open race, as KHS placed three freshmen in the top five, led by Abby Shaw’s individual win in a time of 22:12.1. Katie Huber (3rd, 23:19) and Grace Dodis (4th, 23:48) were solid as well.
“The three freshmen running their first three mile high school race under today’s conditions were impressive,” Ecker said.
Rounding out the KHS open runners were Brianna Booton (11th, 24:27), Lilah Klingersmith (12th, 24:47), Sarah Daily (16th, 25:27), Carly Bartholomew (23rd, 26:09), Haley Penkala (27th, 26:21), Samantha Sommerville (31st, 26:59), Grace Drake (32nd, 27:08), Christina Delach (33rd, 27:09), Murphy Garcia (38th, 27:29) and Kayla Hedgren (46th, 28:45).
Kaneland canceled a triangular meet Tuesday at Elburn Woods against East Aurora and Yorkville due to hot conditions.
The Lady Knights next travel north to the Wauconda Invitational Saturday at 8:30 a.m.
KANELAND—Coach Tim Larsen’s tennis team has to love its hot start, even though some matches have been cancelled due to the heat.
Sitting at 4-0 after a dual win at Plainfield North Saturday, the Lady Knights had a dual at IMSA canceled due to the heat Tuesday.
Against the Tigers, Kaneland swept the match 6-0.
“Plainfield North ended up being a dual meet,” Larsen said. “We got rained out of an eight-team tournament the weekend before, (Plainfield North) and us were the only two teams with an opening, so we just turned it into a dual meet.”
In singles action, No. 1 Sammie Schrepferman won 6-4, 6-0, while No. 2 Stephanie Zwick won 6-1, 6-3.
In doubles, No. 1 Madi Jurcenko and Jelly Emmanouil swept their match 6-1, 6-1, as did No. 3 tandem Kaylee Shoaff and Mallory Dugan 6-1, 6-3.
No. 2 doubles pair Colleen Landers and Stephanie Karolewicz battled their way to a three-set win after falling behind in the first set 2-6. A 6-3, 7-5 sets two and three earned them a hard-fought win.
The No. 4 doubles duo of Brittany Zablocki and Katie Blazynski played a close three-set match, winning 7-6, 6-7, 10-6.
Larsen was pleased with the way his doubles teams earned their victories.
“It was closer than it looks on paper,” he said. “(Plainfield North Coach Lauren Madawick) has good young talent at No.1 singles and No. 1 doubles. No. 2 doubles pushed our girls just about to the limit in that third set—we came from behind in that match for sure, and No. 4 doubles was neck and neck the entire match.”
The Lady Knights next host NIB-12 rival Sycamore today at 4 p.m., and then host Rosary Monday at 4 p.m.
ELBURN—A short-handed Kaneland boys cross country team fell just short of a season-opening win.
In their first taste of competition for the 2013 season, the Knights harriers were edged by visiting Wheaton Academy 27-30. West Chicago placed third in the four-team meet with 100 points, while Hinckley-Big Rock did not field a full team.
Expected front-runner Kyle Carter wasn’t in the lineup for the Knights.
KHS was led by Nathaniel Kucera and Ryan Bower, as both battled up front with eventual winner Noah Van Dyke of Wheaton Academy over the three-mile course. In the end, Van Dyke opened a 14-second cushion on Kucera, who placed second with a time of 17 minutes, 15 seconds, while Bower was third in 17:21.
“Nathaniel Kucera and Ryan Bower were in the neighborhood of their course records from last year,” head coach Chad Clarey said. “I think they could use the home course to their advantage a little more, and we know how to help them do it.”
Luis Acosta used a fierce kick to place fourth for the Knights in 17:28, but then a wave of Wheaton Academy maroon came across the line to take places 5-9, sealing the win for the Warriors. Junior Adam Lesak placed 10th with a time of 18:04, while senior Phil Cutsinger placed 11th in 18:53.
“We like seeing Lesak less than 45 seconds from our leaders,” Clarey said. “Phil Cutsinger rallied as our No. 5 and capped off our scoring.”
The Knights run next Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at Elburn Woods in a triangular meet with East Aurora and Yorkville.
Photo: Nathaniel Kucera led the Knights with a 2nd place finish, followed closely by Ryan Bower in 3rd, Tuesday night at Elburn Woods. Photo by Ben Draper
Photo: Sophomore Brianna Bower earned her first individual cross country victory in Tuesday’s season opener at Elburn Woods. Photo by Ben Draper
Sophomore takes individual win in season opener
ELBURN—Many runners start a cross country race, but only one gets to win.
On an afternoon where runners finally were able to escape the heat that plagued them the previous week, the Lady Knights opened up with their usual four-team meet against Hinckley-Big Rock, West Chicago and Wheaton Academy, led by the sophomore’s individual win.
When the dust settled, Kaneland finished third as a team with 48 points, behind winner West Chicago’s 38 and Wheaton Academy’s 42. H-BR did not field a full team.
Highlighting the afternoon for KHS was Bower’s win, followed by a second-place showing by senior Sydney Strang.
Bower covered the 2.42 mile course in 15 minutes, 14 seconds, 37 seconds ahead of Strang.
A 2013 track all-stater in the 3200m, Bower was happy with how she ran.
“It feels great,” she said. “I just didn’t know what to expect,but I think this year is going to be a good one and I’m really excited to race.”
It was Bower’s first individual win in cross country.
Returning 2A state champion Victoria Clinton was the third Lady Knight to cross the finish line, placing 11th with a time of 16:33. Rounding out the top five were junior Jessica Kucera (16:51) and senior Anna Piazza (17:31).
“Overall they felt good about how they ran, and I was pleased with their performances for the first meet of the season,” said KHS head coach Doug Ecker.
The girls cross country team travels to the Oregon Invitational this Saturday at 9:30 a.m., and then hosts East Aurora and Yorkville at Elburn Woods next Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.
As web editor, I get the unique opportunity to see just how folks like you view ElburnHerald.com. We use Google Analytics to anonymously track how our visitors use our site, and in turn, we get to see what stories and articles were the most popular. It’s been immensely helpful as I tackle the project of redesigning ElburnHerald.com going into 2013.
Our top 10 most-viewed stories from 2012 touched it all: local hot-button issues, police-related articles, community groups linking to articles about them, and what I can only call the “power of Google.”
Alia Bernard was sentenced to 7 years for causing a crash that killed Wade and Denise Thomas. Bernard filed a motion to reduce her sentence in March, and the Chicago Tribune reported in August her sentence was in fact reduced to 6 years. A cautionary tale that distracted driving is extraordinarily dangerous.
Saturday’s Holiday in the Grove event featured events all over the village of Sugar Grove, including a craft show and ornament making at Kaneland John Shields Elementary School. Helen Touchton of Sugar Grove helps her son, Alex, 3, with his ornament, as Kyra Warren, 3, of Sugar Grove, makes her own. Matt Seidel (below, right), 7, of Sugar Grove, shows his St. Bernard T-shirt to Ziggy Stardust from the Fox Valley Therapy Dog Club. The therapy dogs were at the library again this year as part of the village-wide Holiday in the Grove event. Visitors of the Sugar Grove Public Library (below, left) had a chance to read to the dogs of the Fox Valley Therapy Dog Club. The Fox Valley Therapy Dog Club is a volunteer organization providing a wide variety of canine-assisted therapy programs and services in the communities of Kendall, Kane and DuPage counties in Illinois since 2002.