Category Archives: Girls Cross Country

GXC

Bower’s way

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.

Kaneland results:

1. Bower 15:14
2. Strang 15:51
11. Clinton 16:33
14. Kucera 16:51
20. Piazza 17:31
22. Carlson 18:04
23. Espino 18:10
24. Shaw 18:11
25. Huber 18:25
37. Booton 19:55
38. Dodis 19:55
40. Havlin 20:10
41. Klingensmith 20:10
42. Coyle 20:14
43. Sommerville 20:18
45. Pankala 20:54
47. Batholomew 21:09
48. Garcia 21:09
51. Delach 21:24
52. Hedgren 21:54

Girls Cross Country_2013_2

2013 Girls CC Preview: Breezing past

Photo: Tuesday’s high temperatures kept the girls cross country team indoors, but the Lady Knights won’t be cooled off this season. Kaneland is currently ranked 4th in DyestatIL.com’s preseason poll, and still feature returning state champion Victoria Clinton. Photo by Kimberly Anderson

Clinton, young company look to maintain area standing
KANELAND—There is only one way to try and eclipse a third-place sectional finish for Kaneland High School girls cross country.

For the remaining Lady Knights and new charges, it’s go about their business.

Kaneland rose to the occasion at the Belvidere Sectional, and returning junior Victoria Clinton outpaced the entire Class 2A field enroute to becoming State champ as Kaneland earned a sixth-place finish.

The sixth-place total, coupled with conference rival Yorkville’s first-place, showed the depth of talent in the area, and a high standard for KHS to maintain.

“It’ll be  a totally different  kind of team.  They’re going  to be young,  but they’ll be good.  It’ll take time to  figure it out.” KHS girls cross country coach Doug Ecker
“It’ll be
a totally different
kind of team.
They’re going
to be young,
but they’ll be good.
It’ll take time to
figure it out.”
KHS girls cross country coach
Doug Ecker

Gone from the top seven are runners like Amanda Lesak, Maggie Brundige and Abby Dodis. But Kaneland coach Doug Ecker believes in the team’s talent and work ethic to achieve similar heights and negate deficiencies.

“We lost four seniors, but we don’t have as much depth, so we can’t afford to lose anybody,” Ecker said. “It’ll be a totally different kind of team. They’re going to be young, but they’ll be good. It’ll take time to figure it out.”

It could be a case of learning on the job.

“Take someone like Brianna Bower, she ran 34th in the State meet and the traction got her confidence going. She’ll be much stronger,” Ecker said.

Clinton, Bower, Sydney Strang and Aislinn Lodwig are the returnees from the postseason lineup of a year ago.

Girls Cross Country seniors: Erika Carlson, Anna Piazza, Sydney Strang and Christina Delach. Not pictured: Riley Coyle and Kayla Hedgren.
Girls Cross Country seniors:
Erika Carlson, Anna Piazza, Sydney Strang and Christina Delach. Not pictured: Riley Coyle and Kayla Hedgren.

“Last year was an amazing year for Sydney, she was out the first two-thirds of the season with pneumonia. You don’t come back from that and she finished 38th in the State meet. The talent and the attitude is there, it’s just a matter of staying healthy,” Ecker said.

The roster consists of seniors Erika Carlson, Riley Coyle, Christina Delach, Kayla Hedgren, Anna Piazza and Strang. Juniors are Clinton, Grace Drake, Murphy Garcia, Sam Havlin, Jessica Kucera and Lodwig. Sophomores are Carly Bartholomew, Brianna Booton, Bower, Noelle Espino, Lilah Klingensmith, Haley Penkala and Sam Somerville. Freshman are Sarah Daley, Grace Dodis, Abigail Mejia, Cassidy Garland, Katie Huber and Abby Shaw.

“You always want the team to err on the side of caution in high school, and as they get older and stronger they’ll do more. Clinton is like that and the amazing thing is she’s a triathlete first and runner second,” Ecker said.

KHS will need its mix of experience and youth to do battle with the area.

“Yorkville is obviously the favorite and will be strong all the way through, and DeKalb comes back as a 2A school with Kelsey Schrader and Sycamore will be better,” Ecker said.

The girls cross country team hosts their first meet on Tuesday, Sept. 3.

Kaneland Foundation hosts cross country race

Kaneland—The Kaneland Foundation will host its 2nd annual 5k Cross Country Race on Friday, June 21, at 8 p.m. at the Kaneland High School campus/football stadium, 47W326 Keslinger Road, Maple Park. There will also be a 1/4-mile Kids Track Run at 7 p.m. and a 1-Mile Cross Country Fun Run/Walk at 7:30 p.m.

The 5k and 1-Mile runs will cover a flat cross country course entirely on the Kaneland campus.

Racers will finish on the Kaneland track for a spectator-friendly and exciting event. The 5K will be timed, and awards will be offered in age groups and overall categories. Prizes will be awarded to the top three overall male and female finishers in the following age groups for the 5K Cross Country Race: 14 and under, 15-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-65, 65 and over.

All runners will receive a T-shirt for participating, provided they are registered by Saturday, June 15.

Packet pick-up begins at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, June 21, near the track at the Kaneland High School campus.

Schedule of Events
7 p.m.: 1/4-Mile Kids Track Run—$5 registration fee, signed waiver must be on file.
7:30 p.m.: 1-Mile Fun Run/Walk—$10 registration fee; signed waiver must be on file.
8 p.m.: 5k Cross Country Race—$20 registration fee; signed waiver must be on file.

Download the race applications from www.kaneland.org, or register and pay online from the website on the Webstore (click on Kaneland Foundation). For more information, please call (630) 365-8295 or email beth.sterkel@kaneland.org. To mail in forms and money, please address it to: Beth Sterkel, Kaneland Foundation, 47W326 Keslinger Road, Maple Park, IL 60151.

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Hometown Hall of Famer

The Kaneland School District last week inducted Kerry Rink, pictured here from her days as a Kaneland High School cross country runner, into its Hall of Fame in the Personal Athletic Achievement category. Rink was a three-sport athlete at Kaneland, standing out in cross country, track and basketball. Courtesy Photo

Former KHS athlete inducted into District Hall of Fame
by Mike Sandrolini
ELBURN—Kerry Rink received a phone call out of the blue a couple of months ago from Dr. Jeff Schuler, superintendent of Kaneland Community School District 302.

Needless to say, she was pleasantly surprised to hear from him.

Schuler gave Rink, one of the most successful athletes in Kaneland High School history, the word that she had been selected for induction into the Kaneland School District Hall of Fame.

“That was kind of nice,” said Rink, who starred in track and field, basketball and cross country during her four years at Kaneland from 1984-88. “I was just honored that I was going to be inducted.”

Rink was officially inducted last week during Kaneland’s Senior Athletes’ Night. Members of her family, including her mother, Gerry, and her father, Richard—her varsity high school basketball coach—attended the ceremony.

“I think it’s a great honor,” said Richard, who coached the Knights during the 1980s, first as an assistant and then as head coach. “They finally got her in there, and she deserves to be in there. It’s good that they did it (induct Kerry) in front of the seniors to see what can be done by their athletes.”

Legendary career
Although she excelled in each of the three aforementioned sports, what Kerry accomplished on the track is legendary around the area. She was the Class A 800m state champion three consecutive years, and capped her stellar career by setting the state 800m record in a preliminary heat at a meet in 1988.

She then broke that record during the finals en route to the championship.

Her state record in the 800 stood for 19 years.

In addition, Kerry ran on the Knights’ 4x400m and 4x800m relay teams, the latter of which also set a state record and won a Class A title. The Knights captured the overall Class A team crown in both 1987 and 1988.

In cross country, she was a three-time all-state runner and placed third overall at the 1987 state meet, which at that time was not divided into classes.

Kerry’s track and field prowess landed her a scholarship to the University of Kentucky, where she achieved All-American status her freshman year.

She unfortunately ended up tearing the medial meniscus ligament in her right knee during her sophomore year while running for the UK cross country team. Kerry ran track the following spring, but the injury didn’t allow her to compete in either cross country or track her junior and senior years.

However, Kerry did graduate from UK with honors, and then went on to earn her master’s degree in occupational therapy from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

“I’m proud of the way she handled things on the court and off,” said Richard, who is an assistant boys basketball coach at Hinckley-Big Rock and was a sixth-grade teacher at Kaneland Middle School until his retirement in 1999. “I’m proud of the way she handled herself and came back and got her master’s degree after all the adversity.”

Homecoming
Kerry had been living and working in Los Angeles for the past seven years, but recently moved back to the area to be closer to her family. She now works in occupational therapy in DeKalb.

Rarely did a day go by in the Rink family when either Kerry or one of her five siblings—four brothers and a sister—wasn’t taking part in a practice, game or meet.

Kerry’s oldest brother, Patrick, wrestled and played football at Kaneland.

Her sister, Amy, was the starting point guard on Kaneland’s 1982 Class A state champion basketball team. Kerry’s two older brothers, Mike and Danny, each played football and basketball and ran track, as did her younger brother, Greg.

Gerry and Richard Rink had three of their children going to high school at the same time.

“I wish the microwave (oven) had been invented a few years earlier,” Richard said with a laugh. “There was someone in sports all the time. My wife and I used to parcel out watching games. She’d go to one event and I’d go to another. It was somewhat chaotic sometimes, but it worked out.”

Richard, of course, didn’t have to attend Kerry’s basketball games because he was her coach. Coaching one’s daughter or son isn’t unusual, yet Richard was always wary that he didn’t treat Kerry differently from the rest of her teammates.

“It was fun coaching her,” he said, “but it was kind of hard when you coach your own kid. You maybe have to be harder on your kid than you would on the other kids; otherwise it looks like favoritism. But I thought she was a very good player, and she did quite well for herself.”

That she did. Kerry was an all-state player in 1988 and tied a school record for most points scored in a quarter (17). She shares that record with Beth Creamean, a former two-sport star (basketball and softball) at DePaul University.

“It was hard sometimes because I didn’t know whether to call him Dad or coach,” Kerry said, “But I’m honored to have him as a coach. It was a good experience overall. We had a good team.

“He was a great coach and still is. I learned quite a lot from him. He helped me with my shooting and defense, and think I was the basketball player I was because of him.”

Influences
Kerry lists her parents and siblings as being among her biggest influences, both on and off the field and court.

“I went to school, went to practice, studied and went to bed (during high school),” said Kerry, a straight A student at Kaneland. “I was very serious and very driven. They were always good about telling me, ‘It’s OK if you get a B (in a class).’ They tried to help take the pressure off me a little bit, but I put a lot of pressure on myself from within (to succeed).

“My parents had a big influence on me, and my siblings did, too. I come from a very sports-minded family. My sister was an influence, as well, because she was a really good point guard.”

Kerry also mentions Lea Ann Machais, her sister’s teammate on the 1982 championship team; Pat Sheetz, the head track and field coach during her varsity career at Kaneland; Doug Ecker and Tom Todd, who also coached her in track and cross country; and Mr. Davis, her favorite high school teacher, as inspirations.

“My teammates inspired me, too,” she said. “There were a lot of different personalities and talents (on those teams).”

KHS fall sports announce awards

Kaneland—The Kaneland High School fall sports programs recently concluded their respective awards nights.

Cross Country—Boys
• Most Valuable Runner: Kyle Carter, Conor Johnson
• Most Improved Runner: Nathaniel Kucera
• Larry Eddington Award for Courage, Leadership and Strength—Nick Messina
• Captains—Kyle Carter, Conor Johnson, Brad Kigyos
• Golden Knight Award—Freshman: Kyle Osborne; Sophomore: Andrew Lesak; Junior: Ryan Bower; Senior: Gus Stott
• State Qualifiers—Kyle Carter, Conor Johnson, Nathaniel Kucera, John Meisinger, Ryan Bower, Brandon Huber, Ryan Paulson, Luis Acosta
• All Conference—Kyle Carter

Cross Country—Girls
• Captains—Abby Dodis, Maggie Brundige, Ashley Castellanos
• Most Improved Runner—Jessica Kucera, Sydney Strang
• Most Valuable Runner—Victoria Clinton
• All Conference—Victoria Clinton, Brianna Bower, Abby Dodis, Sydney Strang, Amanda Lesak
• State Qualifiers—Victoria Clinton, Aislinn Lodwig, Sydney Strang, Abby Dodis, Ashley Castellanos, Maggie Brundige, Amanda Lesak, Brianna Bower
• All State, State Champion—Victoria Clinton

Football
• Captains—Blake Bradford, Ryan Lawrence, Dan Goress, Kory Harner, Nick Sharp
• Most Improved Player—Bradley Johnson
• Most Valuable Player—Blake Bradford
• Offensive MVP—Zach Martinelli
• Defensive MVP—Gary Koehring
• Special Teams MVP—Matt Rodriguez
• NIB XII All Conference—Zach Theis, Nick Sharpe, Alex Snyder, Zach Martinelli, Jesse Balluff, Drew David, Justin Diddell, Jaumaureo Phillips, Blake Bradford, Kory Harner, Gary Koehring, Ryan Lawrence, Matt Rodriguez

Golf
• Varsity Most Improved Player—Jessy Denton
• Varsity MVP—Matt Yonkovich
• Fresh/Soph MVP—Jeremy Faletto
• Fresh/Soph Most Improved Player—Tori Guyton, C.J. Wehrmann
• All Conference—Matt Yonkovich, Connor Williams, Brody Kuhar, Luke Kreiter
• State Qualifiers—Connor Williams, Luke Kreiter, Matt Yonkovick, Brody Kuhar, Dan Miller, Sean Glennon

Soccer
• Captains—Alex Gil, Anthony Parillo, Marshall Farthing, Sam Rymarz, Alec Koczka, Ivan Bohorquez
• Most Improved Player—Jason Biddle, Marshall Farthing
• Most Valuable Player—Alex Gil, Anthony Parillo
• Rookie of the Year—Ivan Bohorquez
• Coach’s Award—Tyler Siebert, Alec Koczka, Chris Van Dinther, J.T. Karr
• Offensive Player of the Year—Anthony Parillo
• Defensive Player of the Year—Sam Rymarz
• Player of the Year—Anthony Parillo
• All Conference—Marshall Farthing, Alex Gil, Anthony Parillo, Alec Koczka, Sam Rymarz
• All Conference-Honorable Mention—Arsim Azemi
• All Sectional-Honorable Mention—Arsim Azemi
• All Sectional—Alex Gil, Marshall Farthing
• All State—Anthony Parillo

Tennis
• Team Spirit Awards—Varsity: Jess Woodward; JV: Katelyn Blaszynski
• Most Improved Awards—Varsity: Colleen Landers; JV: Mallory Dugan
• MVP—Sarah Grams, Stephanie Zwick
• Outstanding Achievement Awards—School Record: 38 wins—Madison Jurcenko, Angelica Emmanouil; 1st Singles player to qualify for the State Tournament—Samantha Schrepferman
• State Qualifiers—Madison Jurcenko, Angelica Emmanouil, Samantha Schrepferman
• All Conference—Madison Jurcenko, Angelica Emmanouil, Samantha Schrepferman, Sarah Grams

Volleyball
• Most Improved Player—Emily Laudont, Keri Groen
• Spirit Award—Rachael Clinton
• MVP—Jenny Lubic
• Top Offensive Player—Ellie Dunn
• Top Defensive Player—Shayna Tucek
• All Conference—Ellie Dunn, Lauren Banbury

KHS fall athletes earn accolades

Kaneland—A number of Kaneland High School fall athletes were recognized for their performance from throughout the 2012 season.

Leading the way for Kaneland’s post-season honors was senior offensive lineman Zach Theis. He was named to the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association All-State Team, was the NIB-12 East Division Offensive MVP and All-Conference.

Joining Theis as Kaneland football All-Conference Team members were senior offensive lineman Nick Sharp, junior offensive lineman Alex Snyder, senior wide receiver Zack Martinelli, junior running back Jesse Balluff, junior quarterback Drew David, junior defensive lineman Justin Diddell, junior defensive lineman Jaumaureo Phillips, senior defensive back Blake Bradford, senior defensive back Kory Harner, junior linebacker Gary Koehring, senior linebacker Ryan Lawrence, and junior kicker Matt Rodriguez. Balluff was also an All-State Honorable Mention. Balluff, David, Snyder and Koehring were each named to the All State Academic Team.

Earning All-Conference honors from the Kaneland High School volleyball team were sophomore Ellie Dunn, senior Lauren Banbury and senior Ashley Prost.

Girls cross country All-Conference honors went to sophomore Victoria Clinton, freshman Brianna Bower, senior Abby Dodis, junior Sydney Strang, and senior Amanda Lesak.

Junior Kyle Carter earned All-Conference distinction for boys cross country.

All-Conference golf team members were juniors Matt Yonkovick and Brody Kuhar, and seniors Luke Kreiter and Connor Williams.

3 goals at a time for State Champ Clinton

Photo: Kaneland sophomore Victoria Clinton (1059) competes against familiar foe Skyler Bollinger of Yorkville at the Nov. 11 Nike Cross Midwest Regional in Terre Haute, Ind. Clinton was joined in Terre Haute by Lady Knight teammate Brianna Bower (not pictured). Runners from five states—Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Missouri—competed in the Regional for a chance to move on to the National meet in Oregon. Clinton has a chance to be invited to the National meet, but that information wasn’t available as of press time. Photo by Ben Draper

Class 2A cross-country queen applies skills to triathlon circuit
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—Many fellow cross-country runners were witness to Kaneland High School sophomore Victoria Clinton’s success at the Class 2A State meet in Peoria two weeks ago, specifically the back of her jersey.

From November through August, area followers of Clinton can also keep up with her on the triathlon circuit.

Clinton won the Class 2A State meet with a time of 16:56, but a foot race that asks everything of an athlete would only be a third of the task asked of her as part of the run-bike-swim elements of a triathlon.

Clinton competes as part of the Multisport Madness Triathlon Team (MMTT) housed in the western suburbs. The group boasts more than 20 individual national champions as part of the youth triathlon world, and Clinton doesn’t mind the extra work.

“For triathlons, you have to have endurance,” Clinton said. “You have to have technique and know what to do. It’s swimming, biking and running; and you have to have more strategy.”

MMTT team director John Lorenz has seen what area standouts like Geneva’s Kelly Whitley can do when competing, and has been privy to athletes reaching success under the USA Triathlon banner as part of the U.S. Olympic Committee. He feels Clinton’s skillset is amplified by her work ethic.

“It takes a unique athlete to compete, and she’s always had a desire to want more. Swimming is the hardest for a new athlete coming in, and she showed she was up to the challenge early on,” Lorenz said.

Back in August, Clinton was second overall in the 13-15 category at the National Championships in Westchester, Ohio, and moved up to the 16-19 category this season.

“I’ve always had a love for running, but as I’ve trained and competed, I’ve become fond of swimming, and I’ve felt like it’s helped my running,” Clinton said. “It’s helped me cardiovascularly and made me more flexible.”

Lorenz feels that the sophomore’s triathlon possibilities are limitless.

“She has the drive and talent to compete for Team USA one day, and the world championships are an achievable goal,” Lorenz said.

In just her second season, Clinton isn’t intimidated by what could lay ahead.

“The World Championships would be great, and then there’s the Junior Olympics. It’s my second season, and we’ll see what happens,” Clinton said.

Clinton’s MMTT outfit looks to compete in March as part of a competition in Claremont, Fla. The team website is www.mmtt3.org.

Victorious Victoria

Photo: Kaneland sophomore Victoria Clinton (908) battles with the top group shortly after the half-way point at Saturday’s IHSA State Cross Country meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria. Clinton would eventually break away from the pack with less than a mile to go, winning the 2A girls State championship, and leading the Lady Knights to 6th place in the team standings. Photo by Justin Vacha

Clinton takes State crown in cross country
by Mike Slodki
Peoria, Ill.—Victoria Clinton, your spot is ready.

The Kaneland sophomore earned her way into IHSA and Kaneland High School girls cross country history by becoming State champ in the Class 2A race at Detweiller Park in Peoria, Ill., on Saturday.

It’s the first individual crown in the school’s history.

Clinton, who also finished second at the Belvidere Sectional and first at the Kaneland Regional, topped the three-mile course with a stellar time of 16 minutes, 56 seconds. The pace of a 5:39 mile helped best her sectional time by 43 seconds. It was a personal best for the sophomore.

Senior Stephanie Saey of Galesburg was in second place—11 seconds behind Clinton’s winning time.

Clinton strode ahead in the final 800 meters of the competition.

The sophomore athlete helped Kaneland to a sixth-place team finish with 180 points overall.

“(Victoria) ran a very smart race,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “(She) ran with the front pack for the first two miles, took the lead and pulled away the last half-mile. Earning a State championship pretty much says it all.”

Kaneland’s Victoria Clinton is congratulated after being crowned the IHSA Class 2A Individual Cross Country Champion. Photo by Justin Vacha

It was a dream come true and a job well done for the Kaneland standout.

“I felt great, and the Lord allowed me to do the rest,” Clinton said. “As we started closing in toward the second mile, I said I needed to pick it up. With a half-mile left I had to give it my all.”

Fellow Northern Illinois Big XII school Yorkville took the team crown with a total of 66, followed by Normal University at 112.

Montini Catholic finished third in a tiebreaker over Glenbard South at 172, and Marengo finished with 174 points for fifth.

Kaneland’s effort outpaced Crystal Lake Central, which took seventh with 203 points.

“Our team has really been working hard. We all have positive attitudes,” Clinton said.

After Clinton wowed the crowd, the next Lady Knight to cross the finish line was freshman Brianna Bower, who concluded her first campaign in 32nd place with a time of 18:09. Next for KHS was Sydney Strang, who was 38th with a time of 18:14.

Fourth for KHS was sophomore Aislinn Lodwig, who battled through the field with a finish of 18:36 for 69th place, while senior teammate Amanda Lesak finished, 81st with a time of 18:42.

The Lady Knights’ two-through-five runners all ran personal bests in Peoria.
Maggie Brundige finished her final State race with a 98th-place finish at 18:54. Fellow senior Abby Dodis took 120th at 19:15.

“Girls cross country is back to being the successful program it once was,” Ecker said.

The toughest path to State

Loaded Sectional tests successful Lady Knight cross country team
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—It seems like old times for the Lady Knight cross county squad, which is just fine.

Dealing with what many consider the toughest Class 2A Sectionals in the entire state, in the form of the Belvidere gathering, Kaneland’s roster qualified for the Class 2A State meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria, Ill. This is the second straight year the Lady Knights advanced to the State Finals.

The three-mile course in Boone County had Marengo take the ultimate crown with a 57-point total, followed by Crystal Lake Central at 76, Kaneland at 131, Vernon Hills at 166 and Grayslake Central at 173, to round out the qualifying teams. Prairie Ridge of Crystal Lake, Ill., missed the cut at 203 in the 21-team clash.

Marengo senior Katie Adams outran the field with a stellar time of 17 minutes, 23.2 seconds, but was followed closely by Kaneland’s own Victoria Clinton at 17:38.6.

Crystal Lake Central’s area standout Sami Staples took third at 17:49.5.

Kaneland’s top seven finished within a two minute, 27.4 second split, led by Clinton’s time.

Freshman Brianna Bower was second-best for the Lady Knights (10th place) with a time of 18:35.7.

Clinton and Bower took home all-Sectional honors with their efforts, and the freshman felt good in the new postseason setting.

“I just ran it the same way I always do,” Bower said. “I was a little nervous at first, but once the race started it was OK.”

Following nearby was senior Abby Dodis (33rd) at 19:20.4.

Sydney Strang (41st) ran the course in 19:30.6 for fourth-best on the squad, followed by Amanda Lesak (45th) at 19:37.2.

“Abby Dodis, Sydney Strang and Amanda Lesak ran their usual strong races to round out the top five,” KHS head coach Doug Ecker said.

Senior Maggie Brundige (50th) ran her last-ever sectional at 19:45.7, while Aislinn Lodwig (57th) rounded out the top seven at 20:06.

“Finishing third in the toughest 2A sectional in the state capped off a great year that saw the girls win the regional, finish second in the conference, and win two invitational championships,” Ecker said.

Kaneland will run at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3, at Detweiller Park in Peoria, Ill.

Big win keeps Girls XC party going

Effort of top 7 nabs 1st regional crown in 20 years
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—If you don’t have totals worthy of a sectional, your season comes to an end in girls cross country.

Luckily, KHS won’t have to worry about that matter, as their 43-point total at their own regional on Saturday morning grabbed a first-place regional plaque.

The one-point win over Crystal Lake Central sends the Lady Knight roster to the Class 2A Belvidere Sectional along with Crystal Lake and Prairie Ridge, which amassed 80 points.

Kaneland had five of the top 15 runners to put the team over the top, most notably sophomore Victoria Clinton, who ran in 18 minutes, 5.7 seconds.

“It was an excellent race by the entire top seven and an overall team victory,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said.

Next for Kaneland was Brianna Bower, who continues to make waves as a freshman with a time of 19:33.8

“(Brianna) finished sixth as she continues her steady improvement with each race,” Ecker said.

Sydney Strang finished ninth with a time of 19:55.6, while the next KHS representative was senior Abby Dodis with a time of 20:16.3, good for 12th.

Senior teammate Amanda Lesak was 15th best in the field with a time of 20:27.

The upcoming Belvidere Sectional takes place on Saturday, Oct. 27, at 10 a.m. for the girls, along with eligible teams from the Antioch and Belvidere North Sectionals.

A year ago, Kaneland was the fourth-best roster to advance to State, thanks to a one-two punch from Clinton (18:28) and Dodis (18:52).

Kaneland girls excel in wet conditions

Photo: The Kaneland girls pack it up at the beginning of the NIB XII meet in Peru, Ill. Saturday. Photo courtesy of Yorkvilletrackandfield.com

L-P site of admirable totals for NIB-12 meet
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—Running conditions at Baker Lake Park in Peru, Ill., were interesting, to say the least.

Saturday saw non-stop rain of various impacts, but that didn’t seem to slow down the Lady Knight attack against the best the Northern Illinois Big XII Conference had to offer.

Yorkville outpaced the other teams with a 26-point total, followed by KHS at 65.

DeKalb (98), Geneseo (129), Sycamore (129) and Dixon (145) rounded out the top half of the conference.

Seven-through-12 was made up of LaSalle-Peru, Rochelle, Sterling, Ottawa, Morris and Streator.

Kaneland varsity runners had an average time of 18 minutes, 58.5 seconds, with a pack separation of 1:09.6

DeKalb junior Kelsey Schrader took the race mantle with a time of 17:30.2, followed by Yorkville freshman Skyler Bollinger at 17:57.6, but Kaneland sophomore Victoria Clinton continued her torrid stretch with a time of 18:13.2.

Clinton felt the conditions didn’t hinder her day as much as they could have.

“It was really rainy, and it made your body cold,” Clinton said. “It made it hard to move first, but it made it fun. Now I have to try to stay focused and stay consistent through each mile.”

Freshman Brianna Bower was next for KHS in eighth place by finishing the course in 18:40.9 fashion.

Senior Abby Dodis crossed the line next for the Lady Knights, thanks to an effort that took 19:15.4.

Junior Sydney Strang was 18th overall with a time of 19:20.5, and continues to her work her way back from a bout with pneumonia weeks ago.

“The rain made it a lot more intense and a lot more fun, too,” Strang said. “You never really want to miss a meet and sit out.”

Senior Amanda Lesak supported the KHS total with a time of 19:22.7 for 21st place, rounding out the Lady Knight top five.

The next challenge for girls cross country is the most important of the 2012 campaign, with the Class 2A Regional hosted by Kaneland at Elburn Forest Preserve on Saturday, Oct. 20.

The other teams participating in the regional are Burlington Central, Crystal Lake Central, Prairie Ridge, Hampshire, Rochelle, Sycamore and Woodstock.

Advancing teams head to the Belvidere Sectional on Saturday, Oct. 27.

The road to the State Championships begins

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.

Girls get Sterling meet under belts

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It was a truncated lineup that took to the course at Sterling.

It was a way to improve and get even more battle tested en route to conference and beyond for those that participated.

Missing a number of top runners, the Lady Knights outfit tallied 415 points for a 15th-place finish of 22 participating teams at the Sterling Invite on Saturday morning.

Under partly cloudy, autumn-like conditions, it was Pleasant Valley of Iowa that boasted five of the top 11 runners for 33 points.

Southwest Prairie Conference entry Minooka was second with 90 points, and Bettendorf High School of Iowa finished third with 104 points.

Pleasant Valley speedster McKenzie Yanek took the Sterling course with a time of 17 minutes, 34 seconds.

Senior Maggie Brundige led the Lady Knight pack with a time of 19 minutes, 33 seconds, good for 35th place. Junior Sydney Strang continued her way back from illness with a 48th- place finish thanks to a time of 19:33.

“We are all healthy at this point,” KHS head coach Doug Ecker said. “Sydney is still not 100 percent, but is getting close.”

Junior teammate Erika Carlson finished 84th with an effort of 20:36, while senior Anna Piazza finished 116th with a time of 21:57.

Rounding out the top five runners for KHS was junior Megan Franklin in 132nd place with a time of 23:13.

Kaneland gears up for the talented field at the Northern Illinois Big XII race hosted by LaSalle-Peru High School on Saturday, Oct. 13.

A year ago, Kaneland finished second only to Yorkville. Victoria Clinton finished fifth to lead the Lady Knights as a freshman.

Girls pound Pretzel Invite field

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It was the 36th annual Pretzel Invite hosted by Freeport High School on Saturday, but the only number that mattered was “1.”

That will go on the Kaneland High School girls cross country team’s mantle for the 2012 season.

With strong performances that have been no strange phenomenon for the KHS crew, the squad amassed 35 points by finishing with five of the top 15 runners.

Kaneland took first, while Rock Falls finished second with 56. Winnebago took third with a total of 63 and Boylan Catholic from Rockford was fourth with 87.

Sophomore Victoria Clinton beat the pack once again, garnering a first-place nod with a 17 minute, 18 second time, 22 seconds ahead of Winnebago’s Cheyenne Moore.

Next up for Kaneland was freshman Brianna Bower, who’s PR time of 18:50 was fourth overall.

“We did not have any expectations but we knew (Brower) was talented, likes to run, and works hard,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “(She) has a good mindset for running distance.”

Senior Abby Dodis was next for the KHS lineup, taking fifth at 18:58. Fellow Lady Knight runner Amanda Lesak was 12th at 19:33, while sophomore Aislinn Lodwig rounded out the elite five in 19:49, good for 15th.

Jessica Kucera placed 24th, Sydney Strang 29th, and Ashley Castellanos took 32nd to round out the varsity runners.

The JV-level Lady Knights also won their race, led by overall winner and first-year runner Erika Carlson, who won with a time of 20:41.

Kaneland varsity runners don’t suit up until Saturday, Oct. 13, for the Northern Illinois Big XII meet hosted by LaSalle-Peru.

Girls XC boasts exceptional totals in Sterling

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Regardless of what the rest of the season brings, Kaneland girls cross country runners can say they brought the best they had at their usual late-September stop.

At the Rock River Run, hosted by Sterling on Saturday, the Lady Knights finished second overall out of 14 teams.

Solidifying that place was the exceptional performance of Kaneland asset Victoria Clinton, who ended up winning the race overall.

Dealing with the three-mile course on a 52-degree day, the Lady Knights’ 65-point output was second only to Geneva’s 38.

Rounding out the top five were Belvidere North (102), Sycamore (136) and Freeport (185).

Kaneland was able to boast five runners in the top 21 overall, most notable the race from Clinton, who ran the course in 17 minutes, 44 seconds, laying waste to the rest of the field and winning it by a 36-second margin.

Freshman Brianna Bower continued her positive trajectory with a 10th-place finish by striding in a time of 18:58. Junior Sydney Strang finally took to the course after being felled with pneumonia for the majority of the season and finished 15th at 19:29.

“It was an excellent race for her, and she’ll only get better as the season goes on,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said.

Senior Abby Dodis finished 18th overall with a time of 19:43, while fellow senior classmate Maggie Brundige rounded out the Lady Knight top five with a 21st place finish of 19:49.

Kaneland’s frosh-soph team took third with a point total of 106, thanks in large part to Brianna Booton’s race of 22:28.

KHS sees its next challenge at the Pretzel Invite hosted by Freeport High School on Saturday, Sept. 29.

Part of the elite

Photo: The varsity girls make their start at the Eddington Cross Country Invitational on Saturday at Elburn Woods. In center is Victoria Clinton (No. 355), who was the Northern Illinois Big-12 Conference Champion last year as a freshman and placed ninth individually at the state meet. Photos by Ryan Wells

KHS girls XC team proves it belongs among top tier
by Ryan Wells
Kaneland—As hundreds of runners and spectators descended on Elburn Woods Saturday for the annual Kaneland Eddington Invitational, the Kaneland High School Lady Knight cross country team proved it has what it takes to be among the top teams in the state.

Kaneland took fifth as a team in the highly competitive field, with 117 team points. Jacobs earned the top spot as a team, with 73 points. Marengo placed second with 93, followed by Geneva (102) and Crystal Lake Central (109). Kaneland closed out the top five with 117.

“Obviously, we’re pleased with a fifth-place showing in such a tough field of competitors,” KHS head coach Doug Ecker said.

Not only did the team overall demonstrate that it is among the top tier in the state, individuals showed they belong in the lead group as well.

For Aislinn Lodwig, a Kaneland sophomore who battled through an illness and a painful foot, the competitive atmosphere of the large-scale race was a significant motivator.

“With more teams it just makes me feel better about how I did,” Lodwig said. “I know I can stick with more people than the usual (races), where it’s more spaced out during the race. This course is one of the hardest to run with the huge hills, and it really takes a toll on you.”

Lodwig was the sixth Lady Knight to cross the finish line, with a time of 21:08.

Leading Kaneland was sophomore Victoria Clinton, who took third overall and ran as part of the lead pack throughout the entire course.

Like Lodwig, Clinton’s race served as proof that she was able to reach the goals she had set for herself coming into the race. She took third overall with a time of 18:07.

“My goal was to finish in the top three,” Clinton said. “It was a fast race today; good competition was out here.”

Clinton stayed in the front group that included returning Class 2A champ Sami Staples, a sophomore from Crystal Lake Central, and Katie Adams, a senior from Marengo. The trio was three-fourths of the lead pack, and set a hard pace from the start.

“The first part, we went out really fast, and then I felt it in the (middle); we picked up the pace at the end, and I just had a mental goal to be in the top three; and God allowed me to have a good, fun race,” Clinton said.

Freshman Brianna Bower was the second Lady Knight to finish, taking 20th overall with a time of 19:59.

“That’s a very strong time for our tough home course,” Ecker said.

Bower said she was able to push through a bit of nerves, since it was her first time running in such a significant race at home.

“I felt good today; I was nervous at first. It ended up turning out OK,” she said.

Senior Amanda Lesak placed 29th for Kaneland. She led a Kaneland mini-pack, helping push a trio of Lady Knights to a seven-second split in their three-through-five runners. Lesak credited that trio for the team’s solid finish.

“A lot of my teammates really helped me and pushed me,” she said. “We all push each other so we can push the pace a little bit.”

Lesak said that the fast start was anticipated because of the nature of the Elburn Woods course.

“The first mile is always the fastest, because everybody wants to get a good spot,” she said. “Usually people find their pace and find the people they want to run with and settle down a little bit.”

The people Lesak ran with were Kaneland senior Abby Dodis, who finished 31st with a time of 20:30, and senior Maggie Brundige, who took 34th with a time of 20:33.

Sophomore Jessica Kucera paired up with Lodwig to take 52nd overall with a time of 21:10.

“It was great to see Lodwig and Kucera team up on the last portion of the course,” Ecker said.

Each runner faced individual challenges and reached for individual goals, as well as working together to meet the team goal and push each other. Ecker said this is part of the program’s plan as the final stretch run of the season looms ahead.

“This appears to be a deep team—and we need everyone fighting to push forward and get stronger for the conference meet and post-season run,” Ecker said.

Kaneland hosts 43rd Eddington Invite

Eddington Invite race schedule
(All races are 3 miles)

9 a.m. Girls Varsity Race
9:45 a.m. Boys Varsity Race
10:15 a.m.
Frosh-Soph Girls Race
10:45 a.m.
Frosh-Soph Boys Race
11:15 a.m.
Girls Open Race
11:45 a.m. Boys Open

KANELAND—One of Elburn’s oldest sports events, the Eddington Cross Country Invitational, will celebrate its 43rd edition this Saturday, Sept. 15, at Elburn Woods. Hosted by Kaneland High School, the meet commemorates the 25-year teaching and coaching career of Larry Eddington, a long-time Elburn resident who passed away suddenly in 1994.

Still an icon within the Kaneland School District, Eddington chaired the high school’s social studies and English departments and served as president of the Kaneland Education Association, while also coaching boys’ cross country, basketball, and track and field. His teams enjoyed success at the state level, winning the IHSA Class A State Cross Country title in 1987 and countless other awards and championships.

In 1982, Eddington was named “Kane County Educator of the Year.” Over the course of his coaching career, he was honored as “Illinois Cross Country Coach of the Year” three times. He was inducted into the Kaneland School District’s Hall of Fame in 2002 in recognition of his years of hard work and loyalty to Kaneland High School, where the “Larry Eddington Award for Courage, Leadership and Strength” is awarded annually by the school’s Athletic Department.

Eddington was an outstanding cross country runner, and track and field athlete at East Aurora High School and at Western Illinois University, where he prepared to pursue his goal of becoming a high school teacher and coach. His legacy is continued by former Knight runner Chad Clarey, who now coaches the Kaneland boys cross country team, and by former teaching colleague Doug Ecker, who coaches the girls team. Larry’s son Mark is the race director for the annual Elburn Days 5K and Mile Run.

At the 2012 Eddington Cross Country Invitational, the 21-team field includes seven girls teams who won their conference championship last fall and four teams that advanced to the State AA and AAA State Championships. Individually, eight individuals in the varsity girls race had performances on the track last spring that earned them “National Elite” designation by ESPNHS.com. Among the returners are Crystal Lake Central and sophomore Sami Staples, a 4:56/10:46 miler/2-miler on the track last spring, who are the defending Eddington Invitational varsity girls team and individual champions.

The boys’ varsity field includes four teams that advanced to the State AA and AAA Championships last fall, three individuals whose performances on the track last spring earned them “National Elite” designation by ESPN.com, and six others who received “State Elite” designation.

The host Kaneland boys’ team is led by junior Kyle Carter, who had a breakout track season last spring running 4:32 and 2:01 for the mile and 800. He is followed by seniors Conor Johnson, Brandon Huber, John Meisenger, and juniors Ryan Bower and Luis Acosta. The Knights placed 15th last fall in the IHSA AA State Championships and have won their first two triangular meets of the season with ease.

The Kaneland girls’ team is led sophomore Victoria Clinton who was the Northern Illinois Big-12 Conference Champion last year as a freshman and placed ninth individually at the state meet. She is backed by sophomore Aislinn Lodwig, seniors Abby Dodis, Maggie Brundige, Amanda Lesak and Ashley Castellanos, and junior Sydney Strang. The Lady Knights placed eighth last fall in the IHSA AA State Championships and have also notched lop-sided wins in their first two triangular meets of the season.

They are ranked No. 3 in the latest State AA girls team poll by Illinois Prep Harrier, behind Crystal Lake Central and Yorkville.

For Saturday’s Eddington Invitational, 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 shuttle buses will ferry them every 10 minutes to the Forest Preserve, which is only about five minutes away.

High-end showing for girls XC

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Despite a long drive up Route 47, the Lady Knights girls cross country unit shook off the effects and left all but one roster in its wake on Saturday.

For the 36th annual Wauconda Invite, Kaneland finished second out of 24 teams with 111 team points, second only to Crystal Lake Central’s 86.

Kaneland’s next closest foe was Mundelein High School with 126 points.

“The girls started their ‘invitational season’ on a positive note,” KHS head cross country coach Doug Ecker said.

Lady Knight sophomore Victoria Clinton continued to run well in the first crowded invite of the season, with only 2011 State champ Sami Staples of CLC beating her out.

Clinton ran the course in 18 minutes, 11.58 seconds. Staples won the race in 18:08.12.

Freshman Brianna Bower continues to be a force to be reckoned with early in 2012 with a 21st place finish at 19:34.70.

“Brianna Bower continues to learn and improve with each race,” Ecker said.

Close behind was teammate Abby Dodis in 28th with a time of 19:53.58, as well as fellow Lady Knight Maggie Brundige in 29th, just .02 behind.

Rounding out Kaneland High School’s top five was Amanda Lesak at 19:56.94, good for 31st.

Ecker thought it was a positive start to the slew of weekend invites ahead and pointed out yet more KHS athletes.

“All three seniors had strong races, and sophomore Jessica Kucera ran a PR of over a minute (20.09.69) and she continues to build on her successful track season last year,” Ecker said.

KHS girls cross country heads to very familiar territory: Elburn Woods for the annual Eddington Invite this Saturday, Sept. 15.

Girls XC impresses in Oregon

Photo: Jessica Kucera (left) and Maggie Brundige catch up to the West Chicago runners at the finish of the triangular meet with Wheaton Academy and West Chicago at Elburn Woods Aug. 28. Photo by Patti Wilk

KANELAND—Lady Knights cross country is still getting into the swing of things in 2012, and their best way is to do it in stride.

On a windy Saturday in Oregon, Ill., the Kaneland unit excelled in a wide field on a day when no team scores were kept at the Oregon Invite.

The open race that was 70 runners strong had Kaneland boasting four of the top 10 runners.

While Bureau Valley High School’s Reagan Weidner took the individual mantle with a time of 19 minutes, 30.4 seconds on the three-mile course, Kaneland representation followed soon after.

Sophomore Victoria Clinton paved the way for her colors at 19:34.4 and second place, followed by freshman Brianna Bower at 19:54.1.

“The order is what I thought it might be,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “But they will not always finish in the same order in every meet. Victoria will most likely be the number-one runner most of the time, but the order among the others will change, as it should, if all the girls are healthy and running well.”

In fifth place, senior leader Abby Dodis managed a 20:17.3 time.

Fellow senior Amanda Lesak rounded out the immediate Kaneland charge with a time of 20:32 in ninth place.

Tuesday’s meet at home against visiting East Aurora and Yorkville saw the Lady Knights sweep through the competition on their way to a dual meet win, earning a best-possible 15 points. Yorkville placed second in the tri-meet, with 67 points, followed by East Aurora’s 94 points.

Clinton broke away from the pack and took first overall with a time of 20:01. Dodis took second with a time of 21:29, followed by Maggie Brundige (21:44), Brianna Bower (21:59), Lesak (22:42), Jessica Kucera (23:01), Aislinn Lodwig (23:17) and Sydney Strang (24:01), who completed the Kaneland domination.

Ahead for the Lady Knights is a Saturday, Sept. 8, meet at the Wauconda Invite.

Front-loaded

Lady Knight XC opens season with win by taking 4 of 5 top spots

Kaneland—Kaneland High School’s girls cross country team on Tuesday started its season on the right foot, earning a victory in a tri-meet over West Chicago and Wheaton Academy on Tuesday.

The Lady Knights took four of the top five spots in the meet on their way to a 28-point team total. West Chicago took second with 43 points, followed by Wheaton Academy’s 57 points.

Victoria Clinton was the top runner overall, leading the Lady Knights with a 15:01 time. Abby Dodis took third for Kaneland, with a time of 16:01. Brianna Bower earned fourth at 16:26, and Amanda Lesak closed out the overall top five with a time of 15:56.

Kaneland helped its cause with a pack of Lady Knights closing out their top seven as Jessica Kucera (17:22), Maggie Brundidge (17:25) and Catherine Deno (17:30) taking 15th through 17th place.

Kaneland will travel to the Oregon Invite on Saturday, Sept. 1, with a 9:15 a.m. start.

Girls Cross Country Preview: Big returns

Photo: The KHS girls cross country team race out of the starting line in last year’s action at Elburn Woods. The Lady Knights’ home opener is Tuesday, Aug. 28. Freshman Aislinn Lodwig (below) ended her season in 2011 with a 59th-place finish, passing 25 runners in the last half-mile at Detweiler Park in Peoria, Ill. File Photos

Familiar core could equal success for girls XC
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—How can you replace a Lady Knights girls cross country squad that finished eighth in the Class 2A meet a year ago?

It’s relatively easy when nearly the entire team returns to do it all over again. Now, they’re a year older, more experienced, and battle-tested.

Paced by sophomore Victoria Clinton’s ninth-place finish, senior Maggie Brundige’s 35th-place finish and sophomore Aislinn Lodwig’s 59th-place at the Peoria gathering a year ago, Kaneland has a unique benefit of bringing back a team familiar with success.

“Every runner’s different, and they have individual goals,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “I think we’ll have good depth, but I’m not sure of the order.”

Sydney Strang, Abby Dodis, Amanda Lesak and Ashley Castellanos rounded out the top seven and bring upperclassmen leadership.

“Lesak saved us last year for never having been a distance runner, and finished 80th in the State meet, and she’s strong. They all bring depth,” Ecker said.

A KHS athlete would need to be exceptional to break through the upper echelon of the team this year.

“You throw in the eighth-grader from last year, Brianna Bower, who’s very talented, and we’ll go pretty deep,” Ecker said.

Ecker also touted Jessica Kucera as a possible contributor to a winning pace.

“We just have to get better and find out what they do and their goal; my goal is to get them to a State meet,” Ecker said.

The full roster will be needed in order to compete against not only the State field, but the ultra-competitive Northern Illinois Big XII Conference.

“You had four teams from the conference finish in the top 11 in the state (Yorkville, Kaneland, DeKalb and Dixon). Yorkville’s lost their top three, but they return an All-State runner and they’ll be strong again. Dixon will be good,” Ecker said.

The 2012 quest begins on Tuesday, Aug. 28, against West Chicago and Wheaton Academy at Elburn Woods.

Varsity roster
Seniors
Carolina Tovar
Juniors
Maggie Brundige Abby Dodis
Angalia Carbonara Lisa Jennings
Ashley Castellanos Amanda Lesak
Natasha Ring
Sophomores
Anna Piazza Sydney Strang Victoria Clinton Aislinn Lodwig
Freshmen
Jessica Kucera
Breanna Geller
Katrina Ismaili

Varsity Girls Cross Country Schedule
• Tuesday, Aug. 28; 4:30 p.m.
Home against Wheaton Admy.,
West Chicago
• Saturday, Sept. 1; 9:15 a.m.
At Oregon Invite
• Tuesday, Sept. 4; 4:30 p.m.
Home against E. Aurora, Yorkville
• Saturday, Sept. 8; 8:30 a.m.
At Wauconda Invite
• Saturday, Sept. 15; 9 a.m.
Home—Eddington Meet
• Saturday, Sept. 22; 9 a.m.
At Rock River Run—Sterling
• Saturday, Sept. 29; 9:30 a.m.
At Freeport Pretzel Invite
• Saturday, Oct. 6; 9 a.m.
At Sterling Invite
• Saturday, Oct. 13; 9 a.m.
At LaSalle Peru
NIB XII Conference

Kaneland cross country team hosts Baggo tourney

Kaneland—The Kaneland cross country team will host its inaugural double-elimination Baggo tournament on Sunday, Aug. 26, at Kaneland Harter Middle School.

The youth winning team will receive new Baggo boards for each team member. Adult winning teams will receive $250 to split, with prizes awarded for second and third as well. Food and beverages will be available for purchase.

The youth tournament will begin at 12:30 p.m., with a noon check-in. The adult tournament starts at 3:30 p.m., with a 3 p.m. check-in.

Register in advance by emailing your team name, and the names of both team members, to kanelandxc@gmail.com. Entry fees will be paid when you check in at the tournament.

KHS fall athletes recognized with awards

KANELAND—Kaneland High School athletics released their slate of Fall Sports Awards, with each sport trumpeting the best it had to offer, with some All-Northern Illinois Big XII honors thrown in for good measure.

In golf, All-NIB-12 went to Troy Krueger and Matt Yonkovich. Co-Varsity MVP’s were Brody Kuhar and Yonkovich. Connor Williams won the varsity most improved player award. On the frosh/soph roster, Stephen Cannell took the MVP, and Jacob Sheehan won the most improved player award.

For volleyball, All-NIB-12 nods went to Katy Dudzinski and conference MVP Kylie Siebert.

Dudzinski was named top offensive player while Siebert was named top defensive player.

Most improved player went to Rachael Clinton, and the Spirit award went to Lauren Banbury. Dudzinski and Siebert took home the team MVP awards.

In Kaneland tennis, Stephanie Rosenwinkel, Amelia Napiorkowski and Kelly Kovacic were recognized as captains. Mallory Dugan and Stephanie Karolewicz were named most improved. Kovacic and Colleen Landers took the team spirit awards. Outstanding achievement awards went to Jelly Emmnouil for a perfect regular season, Madi Jurcenko for a school record 33 wins, and the doubles tandem of Jurcenko and Napiorkowski for a record of 32-3. All-NIB-12 members were Napiorkowski, Jurcenko, Emmanouil and Sammie Schrepferman, and those four were also named team MVP’s.

For girls cross country, Victoria Clinton was honored for All-State totals, as well as being a State qualifier with teammates Maggie Brundige, Abby Dodis, Aislinn Lodwig, Amanda Lesak, Sydney Strang and Ashley Castellanos.

Lesak, Dodis, Lodwig, Brundige and Clinton were named to the All-NIB-12 team. Dodis, Brundige and Carolina Tovar were recognized as captains. Most improved runners were Dodis and Brundige, while Clinton was named as Most Valuable Runner, capping an exceptional freshman campaign.

For boys cross country, Kyle Carter, John Meisinger, Brandon Huber, Miki Marin, Conor Johnson, Luis Acosta, Clayton Brundige and Nate Rehkopf were recognized as State qualifiers, while Huber, Carter and Meisinger made the All-NIB-12 team.

The Golden Knight Awards went to freshman Andrew Lesak, sophomore Nathanie Kucera, junior Meisinger and senior Rehkopf. Rehkopf, Brundige and Marin were recognized as captains. Huber took the most improved runner nod. Brundige won the Larry Eddington Award for Courage, Leadership and Strength. Carter was named most valuable runner.

For the State semifinalist football squad, Quinn Buschbacher was recognized for his IHSCA All-State accomplishment, and Jacob Razo was credited with an IHSCA Honorable Mention. Alex Snyder, Drew David, Blake Bradford and Ben Kovalick were named to the IHSCA Academic All-State team.

Snyder, Nick Sharp, Buschbacher, Sean Carter, David, Ryan Noel, Kovalick, Razo, Kory Harner, Ryan Lawrence and Bradford were named to the All-NIB-12 team.

Special teams MVP was Matt Roriguez, while Buschbacher was offensive MVP and Razo was named defensive MVP.

Most improved player was Brandon Stahl, captains were Kovalick, Noel, Buschbacher, Razo and Carter, while Sean Carter walked away with the MVP award.

For the regional finalist soccer team, Alex Gil and Anthony Parillo were named to the All-Sectional team, while Jordan Escobedo, Gil, Parillo and Alec Koczka made the All-NIB-12 team. Pedro Perez and Tyler Siebert were honorable mention candidates.

Gil was named player of the year, with Escobedo taking the offensive player of the year and Sam Rymarz named the defensive player of the year.

The Coach’s Award went to Siebert, Koczka, Jason Biddle and Chris Van Dinther. Gil, Escobedo and Parillo were recognized as captains.

Rookie of the year went to Arsim Azemi. Thansi Pesmajoglou was named most improved player and Gil and Parillo took the team MVP.

8th in Class 2A for Lady Knights XC

Photos: Freshman Aislinn Lodwig ended her season with a 59th-place finish, passing 25 runners in the last half-mile at Detweiler Park in Peoria, Ill. on Saturday. Photos by Marshall Farthing

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It was an ideal way to wrap up a productive 2011 for Kaneland girls’ cross country.

With six of seven athletes reaching a personal best mark, the Lady Knights unit accumulated a score of 225 at the State race at Detweiler Park in Peoria, Ill., on Saturday, good for eighth place of all Class 2A programs.

Fellow NIB-12 schools Yorkville (74), DeKalb (229) and Dixon (243) finished first, ninth and eleventh, respectively.

It was Sami Staples of Crystal Lake Central taking the individual crown in 17 minutes, seven seconds, but fellow freshman Victoria Clinton nabbed All-State honors with an 11th-place finish at 17:41. The finish includes Clinton as only the fifth girl in KHS history to make an All-State run.

<strong>Victoria Clinton</strong> enjoys her moment after earning All-State honors.

Junior Maggie Brundige ran a PR of 18:29, good for 45th place, 49 seconds better than any previous effort.

Freshman Aislinn Lodwig, who emerged as a talent Kaneland can conceivable count on for three more years, finished 77th at 18:52.

Lodwig passed 25 runners in the last half-mile.

“She had a great finish the last 1,600 meters, and so did all of them,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “That was a hard question to answer (on best race), all seven were great.”

“I just tried to run as fast as I can. It was kind of chilly, and it took me awhile to warm up,” Lodwig said.

With the big finish, Lodwig knows there is more work to come to stay in the mix.

“We can still build up our strength, and there is still a lot more to work on, but we have good coaching,” Lodwig said.

Teammate Abby Dodis was immediately behind Lodwig with the same time for 78th place.

Junior Amanda Lesak ran in 18:53 for 80th place. Sydney Strang finished 99th overall at 19:08, while Ashley Castellanos took 120th at 19:21.

LADY KNIGHTS XC:
Maggie Brundige
Ashley Castellanos
Victoria Clinton
Abby Dodis
Jessica Kucera
Amanda Lesak
Aislinn Lodwig
Anna Piazza
Natasha Ring
Sydney Strang
Carolina Tovar
Head Coach Doug Ecker

Peoria next stop for Lady Knights cross-country

Photo: Maggie Brundige was fourth-best for the KHS on Saturday. Kaneland girls and boys are both headed to State for the first time since 1992. Photo by Mike Slodki

by Mike Slodki
BELVIDERE, Ill.—All KHS coach Doug Ecker could have hoped for was a consistent and smart race by his girls cross country team.

That’s what happened, at the very least.

To compound the morning of sunny skies in Belvidere, Ill., at the home of the Bucs of NIC-10 fame, Kaneland’s 130-point, fourth-place total was good to send the entire team down to the State final at Detweiler Park in Peoria, Ill., this Saturday, Nov. 5.

Yorkville, at 67 points, was first, followed by Crystal Lake Central’s 70 and Dixon’s 113. DeKalb was the last team to qualify for Statehood with 140.

“I was really proud of them, and I thought they ran really well,” said Ecker on Saturday, who keyed the last half-mile as being integral to the Lady Knights’ success.

Now, after years of falling short entirely or sending an individual down to Peoria, Kaneland gets ready to load the bus.

A year ago, Jen Howland represented KHS in Peoria. Four years ago, it was Andie Strang qualifying in her freshman year.

CLC representative Sami Staples conquered the course with a time of 17:39.4.

DeKalb sophomore Kelsey Schrader, who was in the thick of things all season, finished second in 17:42.8.

For the Lady Knights’ attack, the charge was fronted by freshman Victoria Clinton’s 18 minute, 28.4 second charge.

Clinton, who took ninth in the crowded field, was always clear on what was needed for a successful race.

“I just knew I had to do the best for my team and be consistent, and I’ve tried to do that all season,” Clinton said.

Next in line was junior constant Abby Dodis, who finished 18th at 18:52.6.

Freshman Aislinn Lodwig took the third-best total for the Lady Knights, running in 19:04.5, 28th overall.

Junior Maggie Brundige was 37th, finishing in 19:18.5.

First-year cross-country entry Amanda Lesak was 41st at 19:24.4, and Ashley Castellanos was 71st at 19:48.8.

In 98th was Sydney Strang at 20:37.

Keeping the pack relatively close, the top four runners for Kaneland were just 50.1 seconds apart.

A year ago in the Class 2A finals, Peoria Notre Dame took the team crown, while Yorkville finished second, and Springfield took third.

Woodstock’s Kayla Beattie was first in 2010, at 16:22.

The girls’ race has a scheduled start time of 11 a.m.

Lady Knights XC sees season continue with third place

Photo: The KHS girls XC team practices Tuesday in preparation for the Belvidere Sectional this Saturday. Photo by Mike Slodki

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It would take a team effort to make it out of one of the premier girls cross-country regionals in Illinois.

For Kaneland, that effort was solid enough to garner third place in Saturday’s Elburn Woods clash.

Kaneland’s 84 points was behind champ Yorkville’s 39 and Crystal Lake Central’s 84.

Other advancing teams are DeKalb at 99, Sycamore at 144, Woodstock at 189 and Hampshire at 203.

DeKalb sophomore Kelsey Schrader took the Regional mantle at 18 minutes, 14.9 seconds, which was 10.5 seconds ahead of the closest competitor.

Freshman Victoria Clinton of Kaneland continued to make leaps and bounds of progress with an eighth-place finish of 19:16.7.

Teammate Maggie Brundige had a 14th-place day with a time of 19:35.5.

Aislinn Lodwig, another of Kaneland’s talented freshmen, finished 20th at 19:51.8.

“(We) had several girls under the weather, but they still managed a third-place finish in the toughest 2A regional in the State,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said.

The Saturday, Oct. 29, gathering hosted by Belvidere kicks off at 10 a.m.

Lady Knights on good pace after second in conference

by Mike Slodki
GENESEO, Ill.—Three runners in the top 10 equaled a second-place finish for the Kaneland Lady Knights cross-country team after Saturday’s Northern Illinois Big XII conference free-for-all.

Looking to build on improving PR’s and a young lineup ready to carry the load, the KHS crew’s 61 points was second only to conference champ Yorkville’s 32.

DeKalb (72), Dixon (101) and Sycamore (136) rounded out the top five.

Geneseo, Sterling, Rochelle, Morris, Ottawa, LaSalle-Peru and Streator completed the NIB-12 lineup in the six-through-12 spots.

While DeKalb sophomore Kelsey Schrader took the course prize at 18 minutes, 38.5 seconds, it was Lady Knight freshman Victoria Clinton putting herself in the thick of things with a fifth-place finish after a time of 19:05.6.

Following closely was fellow freshman teammate Aislinn Lodwig in ninth place at 19:27.2, and junior Abby Dodis at 19:28.0 in tenth.

The fourth fastest Kaneland runner was junior Maggie Brundige, who completed the course in 20:03.7

KHS coach Doug Ecker sees a positive trajectory.

“Varsity had the best team effort of the year, so far,” Ecker said. “Freshmen continue to improve each race.Teamwise, we are very satisfied with second-place finish in a tough and competitive 2A conference.”

Ahead for the Lady Knights is the IHSA Class 2A regional out at the familiar Elburn Woods on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 10 a.m.

Younger Lady Knights go west

KANELAND—Under sunny skies in Sterling, Ill., a younger KHS girls cross-country lineup was trotted out to deal with the field spreading from Iowa City, Ia., to Schaumburg, Ill.

Kaneland took fifth with the freshman-sophomore group, thanks in large part to Victoria Clinton’s top finish.

Pleasant Valley High School won the F/S meet, but Kaneland’s 131-point total was good for fifth.

Clinton’s second top finish in a row saw her run at 18 minutes, 57 seconds.

Teammate Aislinn Lodwig was fourth overall at 19:34, while Sydney Strang continued to march back from injuries with a time of 20:26 (17th place). Jessica Kucera finished in 21:38, for 48th overall.

Saturday, Oct. 15, brings the litmus test of where KHS varsity fits in the conference scheme, at the Northern Illinois Big XII Conference meet hosted by Geneseo of the West Division.

A year ago, Ashley Castellanos of Kaneland made it to the all-conference team with her showing at Elburn Woods.

Girls XC take biggest piece of Pretzel Invite

by Mike Slodki
FREEPORT—No pretzel logic needed for a good showing in Freeport.

The Kaneland High School girls cross country team impressed at Freeport’s annual invite on Saturday, garnering 38 points in the eight-team crowd.

The 38 points bested the host school’s 60, Rockford Boylan’s 75 and Rock Falls’ 80.

Freshman Victoria Clinton crowned herself queen of the 2.9 mile course with a time of 17 minutes, 48.4 seconds, besting Freeport’s Ellie Willging by almost 10 seconds. It marked the first top varsity finish for Clinton.

Kaneland’s Abby Dodis helped Sandwich Willging with a time of 18:09.4 seconds, good for third.

Another talented freshman, Aislinn Lodwig, took fifth with a time of 18:25, and KHS junior Maggie Brundige was 13th at 18:51.88.

“It was nice, after finishing second a few times this year to win a team championship,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “If we are going to finish top 5 at the Sectional, we will continue to need to have strong races.”

The Lady Knights take on the field at the Sterling Invite on Saturday, Oct. 8

PR’s abound for girls XC at Rock River Run in Sterling

STERLING—Kaneland’s girls cross country team might bypass the opportunity to coin their performance on Saturday as Sterling.

Rather, after the annual trip to the Rock River Run, they’ll just keep the positive trajectory going and continue to get healthy.

With four runners in the top 16 in quite the crowded field, Kaneland’s 72 points was just one behind champion Geneva for race supremacy. Dixon (76) and Freeport (119) were third and fourth, respectively, while Belvidere North took fifth at 145.

Hampshire standout Cassie Kruse took the race with a time of 17 minutes, 53 seconds, but junior cornerstone Abby Dodis was third with a time of 18:28, a personal best. Close behind was freshman Victoria Clinton, who ran fifth with a time of 18:44, also a personal best.

Two more PR’s were had by Lady Knights Maggie Brundige, with the junior hitting 12th at 19:20, and freshman teammate Aislinn Lodwig at 16th with a time of 19:28.

Ahead for the Lady Knights is the Freeport Invite in pretzel country on Saturday, Oct. 1.

PR’s galore for Lady Knight runners at Eddington Invite

Photo: Victoria Clinton tries to create space in the F/S competition during Saturday’s Eddington Invite. A freshman, Clinton won the race in 15 minutes, 23.2 seconds. Photo by Madeline Cole

ELBURN—Even with some assets sick and injured, Kaneland girls cross country still saw noteworthy efforts at its own showcase.

The annual Eddington Invite, hosted by Kaneland saw runners Abby Dodis, Maggie Brundige and Amanda Lesak all achieve personal bests at the hilly landscape of Elburn Woods.

Crystal Lake Central (40 points) took the event, while Benet Academy finished second with 83 and Marengo took third in 89.

Northern Illinois Big XII conference mates Sycamore (173) and DeKalb (231) finished seventh and eighth.

Crystal Lake Central’s Sami Staples, a freshman, took the race crown in 18 minutes, 34.6 seconds.

Dodis, striding through her junior season, finished eighth overall with 19:45.6 worth of time.

With her best Elburn Woods effort behind her, Dodis believes it’s a beacon of things to come.

“We are excited and feeling really good,” Dodis said. “We wanted to see what we could do this year.”

Teammate Brundige finished in 17th with a time of 20:08.4. Amanda Lesak finished 58th with a time of 21:44.6.

On the frosh/soph side, Kaneland’s fifth place was buoyed by top runner Victoria Clinton at 15:23.2.

Fellow freshman Aislinn Lodwig was fifth at 16:09.6, and Anna Piazza was 38th at 17:57.

Up next for Kaneland girls: the Rock River Run in Sterling, Ill., on Saturday, Sept. 24.