Tag Archives: Chad Clarey

New look for NIB-12

Streamlined look
triggers after
year of preparation

KANELAND—Beginning with the upcoming 2014-15 school year, Kaneland’s home of the Northern Illinois Big XII will have officially outlasted its previous stop of the Western Sun Conference.

In year five, the conference is putting some remodeling into effect, after a year of planning.

Due to factors like decreasing enrollment, the conference’s West Division lost both Dixon to the Big Northern Conference and Streator to the Interstate Eight Conference.

“Dixon and Streator thought they had to do what they had to do, and you respect that,” said Kaneland athletic director Peter Goff. “I’ve been to one AD meeting, and there is no serious talk about adding anybody else. Maybe there will be some talk later.”

The move, after a meeting of conference principals in March 2013, left an imbalance of the East and West divisions. Rochelle moving to the West provides balance for the ensuing school years. The conference athletic directors had previously met earlier that month.

The East now consists of DeKalb, Kaneland, Morris, Sycamore and Yorkville, while the West is comprised of Geneseo, LaSalle-Peru, Ottawa, Rochelle and Sterling.

“When I was in the NCIC with Sterling, we lost Rochelle,” Goff said. “People leave and you make adjustments. We got them back here. I think it’s a very solid conference, both East and West.”

While affecting the football scene fiercely, with schools like Kaneland beginning the 2014 football campaign with three non-conference games and ending with two crossover games, the moves affect other sports to varying degrees.

Second-year volleyball coach Kerri McCastland won’t see her crew’s routine changed much, as Dixon and Streator were not scheduled as two of the West crossover matches anyway. Regular conference tussles still take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“Last year, we had Rochelle, and we had L-P. That was great to face a State qualifier. This year, we have Sterling and Ottawa. This will be great to go to a different way. Sterling comes here, and it’ll be a great awareness for them to check us out. But, it doesn’t matter to me,” McCastland said.

“In this case, it’ll be better for how much land we have to try to cover for a conference match. I think it probably frees up your ability to play other schools for non-conference. You get a different flavor somewhere else,” McCastland said.

On the other side of the NIB-12 wall, outgoing conference president Greg King, of Sterling, has had time to sit with the decision and is comfortable.

“The only challenge will be looking for other teams who would like to join,” King said. “This is an excellent conference.”

King, who vacated the rotating president’s chair to Ottawa’s Mike Cooper, likes the stability of 10 teams, but would like the conference to expand eventually.

“This is a great football conference, more playoff teams in the East, but it’d be tough looking for wins, and right now, that’s the challenge,” King said.

Sports like boys cross country will have a different look, even though the sport competes in a unified meet come October’s conference championship.

“We lose three all-conference spots; Dixon filled three of them. You have to finish in the top 18. We lose a lot of quality people from those two schools. I’ve liked my dealings with them,” Clarey said.

Clarey said he feels that despite the loss of perennial contender Dixon from the ranks, there will be an air of normalcy during most of the season.

“I would never guess how the other sports are affected. We only see the other side once out at the conference meet. Dixon was a perennial tough opponent, and Streator was a program in flux. It’s definitely a hit to the talent, but there are still good programs here,” Clarey said.

In the 10-team enrollment picture, DeKalb sits as the largest school at 1,638 students, while Geneseo replaces Dixon as the smallest school at 832.

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Body of work

Boys track assistant coach accepts award
KANELAND—For two decades, Rob Bieritz has been a part of the fabric of Kaneland track.

Two weeks ago, he was awarded some hardware for his work.

Bieritz, a Batavia resident and a Class of 2001 graduate of Kaneland High School, was one of several honorees by the Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches Association as a recipient of the Dave Pasquini Assistant Coach Award. The award can only be awarded to a coach once in their lifetime, and is for extraordinary effort as an assitant coach for either track and field or cross country.

Bieritz, along with Glenbard South’s Ryan Crissey, Evanston’s George Woodridge, Chicago’s Jones rep Ben Mahon, Neuqua Valley’s Michael Rossi and Sterling’s Tom Depasquale, were honored at a social in Downers Grove, Ill., on Jan. 10.

KHS boys track coach Eric Baron informed the track staff of the honor through email; fitting because Baron is also a winner of the award, along with Randy Olesen.

The award is named after former Glenbrook South High School coach Dave Pasquini, who died of cancer.

“You look at what coach Baron has done and what Randy has done, and all the way back to Ralph Drendel, and it’s as much them surrounding me,” Bieritz said.

Starting assistant track work in 2006 under Baron, Bieritz was influenced as a coach, but first an athlete, under the Kaneland success factory.

“You can’t put a description as to what the coaches taught me, but you try to resemble what they’ve done as much as you can,” Bieritz said.

Bieritz has been able to interact with current coaches as a Knight athlete and a KHS mentor in the lanes.

“Every coach I’ve had, guys like Tom Fedderly and Chad Clarey and others, you learn from them and take what you want,” Bieritz said.

The former 300m Intermediate Hurdles state qualifier has noticed differences in his coaching approach and now has eight years of track nuances to look back with.

It’s all the better for the perennial Class 2A medal threat.

“You try not to coach in general, you have to coach toward each different kid. What you try could affect a kid differently, and you have every style of kid. They’re all different,” Bieritz said.

The award, for assistant coach achievement, was given out before the annual ITCCCA track clinic held at Oak Park-River Forest High School. It could be fitting that an award that went to Bieritz comes shortly before a clinic, signifying that an assistant coach’s work is never done.

“You have to be able to bust your butt at this, so the kids can bust theirs and see the rewards,” Bieritz said. “When the kids see what the rewards are, that’s what it’s all about.”

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Knight boys show tough State of mind

Photo: Senior Nathaniel Kucera crosses the finish line at Saturday’s State meet as Kaneland’s third finisher in 15:54. Photo by Mary Paulson

Tough field meets solid resolve for 22nd place finish
PEORIA, ILL.—Without fail, every time you head down to Detweiller Park in Peoria, Ill., you’re dealing with the best Class 2A boys cross country has to offer.

It was the same in 2013 for the Kaneland roster, which finished 22nd overall as a team on Saturday, thanks to a 493-point output, beating next competitor East Peoria by 42 points. The Knights also yielded a :47 pack. Kaneland finished 15th overall in 2012.

“We are very proud of our boys nonetheless,” KHS coach Chad Clarey said. “Hundreds of teams did not have this opportunity.”

Overall, Yorkville took the Class 2A crown, thanks to a point total of 119, 15 points better than Lansing, Ill., outfit Illiana Christian. Vernon Hills finished third at 136 points.

Kaneland had a charge led by team juggernauts like Nathaniel Kucera, Andrew Lesak and Sean Spaetzel. Kucera finished 67th to lead the team with a time of 15:54, while Lesak finished 114th overall at 16:17, and Spaetzel crossed the line to end his sophomore campaign in 140th place with a time of 16:31.

“Nathaniel Kucera improved 36 places from his 2012 performance at State,” Clarey said. “He was a runner who brought a lot of humor to our season. Andrew Lesak’s first run at State was a success with a 16:16 time. He will be a leader next fall, and with good reason. He is a very unflappable, balanced and dependable runner. Sean Spaetzel pushed up to finish as our third man today. He was 20 seconds faster than on the course a year ago.”

Shoring up the KHS line were Ryan Bower at 141st with a time of 16:31, and Kyle Carter in 164th at 16:41, doing his best to fight off a stress fracture from the season’s early goings.

“No matter how hard you fight, you have days like this,” Clarey said.

Brandon Park (176th) and Luis Acosta (188th) brought up the back of the State-goers from KHS, with times of 16:50, and 17:00, respectively.

“Sometimes a team struggles, and today it happened to ours. The experiences we had will become positive reference points going forward, as the seniors prepare for an outstanding track season where all seven of them can and will once again be impact runners at the State level,” Clarey said.

Kaneland said goodbye to seniors Acosta, Bower, Dylan Kuipers, Phil Cutsinger, Carter, Kucera and Brock Robertsen.


Photos by Mary Paulson

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Kaneland takes care of sectional challenge

Photo: Sophomore Sean Spaetzel cracked the varsity roster, running as Kaneland’s seventh runner at the Belvidere Sectional with a time of 16:51. File Photo

Boys’ fourth place yields State berth
KANELAND—In certain situations, a team’s fourth-place finish might be cause for kicking one’s self.

For the Kaneland boys cross country team, it’s a chance to keep striding toward bigger and better things at this coming weekend’s State contest at Detweiller Park in Peoria, Ill.

Kaneland boys cross country’s performance at the Class 2A Belvidere Sectional on Saturday morning yielded a total of 163 points, in the middle of the pack of State qualifiers. Vernon Hills took first with 45 points, followed by Northern Illinois Big XII entry Dixon with 99 points. Crystal Lake Central took third at the 102-point mark. After Kaneland’s comfortable fourth-place slot, Prairie Ridge and Grayslake Central earned qualifying nods with 181 points each.

Ryan Pitner, senior representative from Crystal Lake Central, finished the morning with a time of 15 minutes 9 seconds to nab individual champion honors.

Kyle Carter, a KHS senior, finished in 19th place at 15:56, finishing over Grayslake Central’s Jack Battaglia by .09 seconds, with senior classmate Nathaniel Kucera next up for KHS in 21st at 16:00. Additionally, junior Brandon Park took 37th at 16:21, followed by fellow junior Andrew Lesak in 41st at 16:23, while senior Ryan Bower finished in 45th at 16:30.

Kaneland’s average varsity time was 16:23 on the Belvidere school course.

“We knew it was a battle for the final two qualifying spots, and we knew a pack split under 40 seconds was necessary for this team to advance for a third year in a row,” KHS coach Chad Clarey said. “Led by an inspired effort from the seniors, the team advanced with a 34-second pack split.”

As the 17th boys team to advance to the big course, Clarey was glad to see the team effort work on the grass.

“We are very thankful for the opportunity to return to Peoria. We realize there are some very talented teams who will end their seasons today. When we needed it most, the team rallied around one another and got the job done,” Clarey said.

The highest finish for the Kaneland program in recent memory was second place 14 years ago. In 2012, Chicago’s Jones High School took the Class 2A crown with 85 points, followed by Belvidere North at 126 points. Local rival Yorkville took third with 129 points.

Seniors lead way to Sectional

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.

Stopping by Byron

Early Oct. stop provides Knights look at themselves, field
BYRON, Ill.—Byron Forest Preserve in Byron, Ill., holds a unique October challenge for the Knight boys cross country roster.

The setup and field might be out of the ordinary, but provides opportunity to take stock of what a team has in a critical juncture of the season, just before conference.

Kaneland took care of business with the staggered field and managed five of the top six runners en route to a 16-point afternoon and first place finish. Bureau Valley was second at 76 points and Rock Falls was third at 77.

The race was structured so teams’ runners thought to be tenth fastest would start the race, followed by a 20-second interval before the ninth-fastest runners would go, on through the fastest.

“The best part about the race format is it celebrates the depth if your team, and it is something that we point our fingers toward all the summer running they do,” KHS coach Chad Clarey said “Not all programs work like that in the summer, and those who do are often more prepared when the gun goes off.”

Dylan Kuipers won the 2.87-mile setup at 17 minutes, 29 seconds, followed by two-three-four runners Jimmy Walker (17:54), Mitch Reger (17:55) and Kyle Carter (17:57). Teammate Brock Robertsen, at 18:07, was sixth.

“(It’s a) challenging course, unique format, and sometimes poses as a feel good meet for some of the seniors that we get into the varsity line up who sometimes do not have the chance to shine at other invitationals,” Clarey said.

On Saturday, Oct. 19, the KHS crew heads to Grundy County to face off against host Morris and the rest of the capable Northern Illinois Big XII field, with races beginning at 9 a.m.

Boys XC battles health, competition

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.

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Come together

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.

Courtesy photo by Andrew Franklin: Andrew Lesak

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KHS boys secure 6th at Eddington

Photo: The start of the 44th annual Eddington Invitational boys varsity race. The Knights took sixth place overall. Ryan Bower (left to right), Nathaniel Kucera, Luis Acosta and Andrew Lesak get things going. Photo by Mary Paulson

Bower, Kucera, Lesak elevate Knight totals
ELBURN—Under sunny skies at Elburn Woods, the Kaneland boys cross country saw a talented field try and stake claim to their turf.

Kaneland managed a sixth-place finish at the annual Eddington Invite on Saturday morning, carving out enough of a path to see positive developments.

The Knights were strong enough to finish sixth with 160 team points, just two points behind local rival West Aurora. Crystal Lake Central’s 41, Glenbard West’s 53, Jacobs’ 74 and Benet Academy’s 152 rounded out the top four. Burlington Central (207), Geneva (226), Sycamore (249) and DeKalb (256) filled in the rest of the top 10. Larkin, Dundee-Crown and Marengo rounded out the 12-team field.

Crystal Lake Central’s senior asset Ryan Pitner, with a time of 15 minutes, 51.1 seconds, claimed the Elburn course. Jacobs entry Matthew Johnson was next with a time of 16:02.8.

For KHS, the field was headed by senior Ryan Bower, who finished 21st at 16:48.2. Bower was followed quickly by teammate Nathaniel Kucera, who finished 22nd at 16:51.4. Andrew Lesak, a junior, took 32nd at 17:06.2. Senior Luis Acosta was fourth-best for KHS and finished 42nd and 17:23.3, while junior teammate Brandon Park was 43rd at 17:24. Senior Kyle Carter, working his way back from illness, finished 60th overall at 18:00.1. The Kaneland pack was within 72 seconds of each other, from one through six.

“It’s nice, with this being their last meet on their home course, that it means something to them,” KHS coach Chad Clarey said. “Running at the Woods is special, and trying to PR is a big part of what they want to accomplish. For the most part, we really did a good job with that. Ryan Bower had a 27-second PR and a career-best on the home course. Kucera also had a PR and a good day, and a big surprise for us was Lesak.”

Kucera thought it was a good race for a relatively healthy KHS to show what it could do in a talent-heavy field, at an important juncture of the 2013 campaign.

“I was feeling a little sick today and congested, so it was a little rough, but I’m happy with my time,” Kucera said. “I mean, we had good competition.”

Freshman Jacob Oury of Hampshire was tops of the frosh-soph competition at 17:01.9. KHS sophomore Sean Spaetzel was sixth at 17:37.8. Senior Brock Robertsen was the top entry for Kaneland in the open race with a time of 18:24.6, good for 14th.

Saturday, Sept. 28, sees the boys travel to the Aurora Central Catholic Invitational.

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Knights solid at First to the Finish

Photo: Ryan Bower led the Knights in Peoria, running a personal-best 15:55 effort over the 3-mile course. Photo by Ben Draper

Boys place 11th in strong field
PEORIA, Ill.—When you have 13 of the top 25 ranked teams, it could be easy to get lost in the crowd.

But coach Chad Clarey’s boys cross country squad rose to the challenge, finishing 11th in the highly competitive 52-team First to the Finish Invitational at Peoria’s Detweiller Park Saturday.

The Knights tallied 405 points, seven behind 10th-place Champaign Central.

No. 1-ranked Illiana Christian won the meet with 121 points.

“It felt good to get back to Detweiller and run a faster course against some top-tier teams,” Clarey said. “We feel like we have a lot of room for growth, and we realize that we have about five weeks to put our pieces in place, ahead of the conference meet.”

Nine other Northern Illinois Big 12 conference schools were at the meet, including Yorkville (2nd, 136 points), Dixon (5th, 274), Sycamore (9th, 348), Sterling (13th, 414), Geneseo (20th, 562), DeKalb (34th, 870), Ottawa (35th, 901), Rochelle (45th, 1244) and Streator (52nd, 1684).

Individually, the Knights were led by a strong effort by Ryan Bower, running a personal best time of 15 minutes, 55 seconds over the 3 mile course.

Luis Acosta was the next Knight to cross the finish line, placing 71st with a time of 16:21. Nathaniel Kucera (92nd, 16:37), Andrew Lesak (94th, 16:38) and Sean Spaetzel (106th, 16:47) rounded out the Knight scorers.

Clarey was happy with his team’s ability to run as a pack in the 735-runner field.

“Using a 52-second pack split, and 55 (seconds) between our first six, we now have a baseline to work with,” he said.

Brandon Park was Kaneland’s sixth man, placing 116th in 16:50.

Rounding out the Knight runners were Phil Cutsinger (179th, 17:20), Michael Booton (191st, 17:26), Brock Robertsen (233rd, 17:42), Dylan Kuipers (277th, 17:59), Noah Duffey (315th, 18:15), Mitch Reger (316th, 18:15), Alex Gale (255th, 18:31), Will Kuipers (361st, 18:33), Aaron French (369th, 18:39), James Walker (371st, 18:40), Andrew Kantola (431st, 19:11), Danny Walker (565th, 20:38), Kyle Osborne (628th, 21:38) and Phil Rawers (629th, 21:39).

Although running in the varsity race, Clarey was happy with how his freshmen and sophomores competed.

“We have a terrific group of frosh soph runners who were eager to compete,” Clarey said. “For their first time out on a three-mile course, we notched many races in the 18:00’s, including a two-minute drop from Will Kuipers, Alex Gale and Aaron French.

It will be fun to see how this group continues to gel, and to follow their leaders,” he added.

Next up for the Knights is the 44th installment of the Eddington Invitational at Elburn Woods Saturday. The boys varsity runs at 9:45 a.m., boys fr/so at 10:45 a.m., and boys open at 11:15 a.m.

Parking for the meet will be at Kaneland High School, with regular shuttles going to and from the Elburn Woods course every 10 minutes.

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A running start

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.
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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

Kaneland results:
2. Kucera 17:15
3. Bower 17:21
4. Acosta 17:28
10. Lesak 18:04
11. Cutsinger 18:53
13. Robertsen 19:13
14. Reger 19:13
15. Park 19:31
37. Rawers 24:54
38. Pennington 25:02

BXC

2013 Boys CC Preview: Stride right

Photo: Head coach Chad Clarey’s Knights look to make some noise at the conference and state levels in 2013. The Knights are currently ranked 11th in DyestatIL.com’s preseason poll. Photo by Kimberly Anderson

Knight harriers hope health and improvement go long way in ‘13
KANELAND—Productive finishes are a funny thing, sometimes.

For KHS boys cross country, the challenge is now to live up to the noteworthy end of 2012, by combatting the graduation losses and a consistent work ethic.

Gone are key elements like Conor Johnson, John Meisinger and Brandon Huber, but potent talent still remains who know what’s expected of them.

Assets like seniors Kyle Carter, Nathaniel Kucera, Luis Acosta and Ryan Bower remain.

All feet will have to be on deck to match and surpass a fifth-place sectional finish and a 13th Class 2A State output.

“We have four of our top seven back, and three of those seven have State championship experience from track,” KHS coach Chad Clarey said. “Ryan Bower is also an accomplished 9:50 two-miler. Those four have us sitting in a good position with senior leadership and experience. They understand the pressures of big meets.”

Those four are a pleasant group to have, but Clarey wishes for a solidifying of the rest of the lineup for conference tussles and Saturday invites.

“What weighs heavily is where do we go when it comes to keeping everyone healthy,’ he said. “When you feel like you’ve been dealt a nice hand, and we’re not anything but one of those teams that tries to qualify out of that sectional, we have to work to stay healthy and we’ve made adjustments to our training.”

“... in my 19th season, I’ve learned you may have an idea what’s going to happen, but you roll with whatever you’re given” KHS boys cross country coach  Chad Clarey
“… in my 19th season, I’ve learned you may have an idea what’s going to happen, but you roll with whatever you’re given”
KHS boys cross country coach
Chad Clarey

Seniors looking to crack into the everyday lineup include Dylan Kuipers, Phil Cutsinger and Brock Robertsen. Juniors include Mitch Reger, Adam Lesak, Brandon Park, James Walker, Connor Pennington and Phil Rawers.

Clarey cites upperclassmen Kuipers, Cutsinger, Lesak and Walker as examples who could see time, along with sophomore Sean Spaetzel.

“Bower and Lesak have really turned things up a notch, which makes it great for us as coaches. But in my 19th season, I’ve learned you may have an idea what’s going to happen, but you roll with whatever you’re given,” Clarey said.

Boys cross country seniors: Phil Cutsinger, Nathaniel Kucera and Kyle Carter (bottom row). Ryan Bower and Dylan Kuipers (middle row) and Luis Acosta.
Boys cross country seniors:
Phil Cutsinger, Nathaniel Kucera and Kyle Carter (bottom row).
Ryan Bower and Dylan Kuipers (middle row) and Luis Acosta.

Additional sophomores include Will Kuipers, Elliott Mejia, Aaron French, Kyle Osborne and Alex Gale.

Freshmen are Noah Duffey, Michael Booton, Anthony Messina, Andrew Kantola, Troy Moss, Cole Rutter and Danny Walker.

Around the Northern Illinois Big XII landscape has a steady group not affected by heavy turnover.

“The only school that might be affected is DeKalb, who had a great team last year and graduated five of their top seven. Dixon will be a top five school. Yorkville, if they’re healthy, will seriously be a factor. Things happen over the course of a season,” Clarey said.

KHS boys cross country heads to the Elburn Woods course for a triangular against West Chicago and Wheaton Academy on Tuesday, Sept. 3.

Power in Peoria

Photo: Kaneland junior Kyle Carter (1296) and senior Conor Johnson (1298) battle a Yorkville runner shortly after the 2-mile mark at Saturday’s IHSA State Cross Country meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria. Johnson finished a team-best 15 minutes, 18 seconds, good enough for 36th place, while Carter was just behind in 15:22 (48th place). The Knights placed 13th in the meet. Photo by Justin Vacha

Knights’ 13th-best program in State after Detweiller Park run
by Mike Slodki
Peoria, Ill.—The Kaneland High School boys cross country team set a number of personal and team records at the State Finals in Peoria on Saturday.

The Knights finished 13th overall, improving upon last year’s 15th place finish at State.

Yet, even more important than inching up the team final totals, the Knights set an all-time school record for team time of scoring runners, 78:34. Kaneland’s previous best mark of 78:43 was set by the 1987 State Championship team.

KHS head coach Chad Clarey said the team came to Peoria with a gameplan consisting of a list of goals, both on a personal and team level.

“The team executed our race plan flawlessly, in the deepest and fastest (Class) 2A field ever,” Clarey said. “We averaged 15:42 for our scoring runners, and even that wasn’t fast enough to make the top 10 of this class.”

Keyed by top-40 finishes from leaders Conor Johnson and Kyle Carter, Kaneland finished 13th overall with a team score of 351 points, 20 better than in 2011.

With an 85-point total, Chicago’s Jones High School took the top team trophy, followed by Belvidere North at 126 and Knight conference rival Yorkville at 129.

Former conference-mate Glenbard South was fifth overall at 190, while fellow Northern Illinois Big XII outfit Dixon was 10th.

Kaneland finished 10 points behind East Moline United, and ahead of Fenton’s 376.

“The team has worked so hard through summer heat, cold ice baths, intense intervals and exhausting races,” Clarey said. “We are so proud, and even more blessed to have had this opportunity come and then be answered by seven courageous young men and their teammates.”

John Wold of Glenbard South ran the course in 14 minutes, 16 seconds for the individual title, followed by Crystal Lake Central’s Alex Baker at 14:21, and Riley McInerney of Charleston rounded out the top three at 14:33.

The top-seven of the Knights proved itself formidable in chilly conditions, with the senior Johnson running his final high school race at a 36th-place clip of 15:18, good for a 5:06 pace, shaving 42 seconds off his state run the year prior.

“His (Johnson) senior leadership has been a major reason why we made it this far,” Clarey said. “We are very proud of his character, as well as his running talents.”

Carter was next for the KHS lineup at 15:22, completing his junior season in 48th place in the state. Carter’s time shaved 23 seconds off last year’s appearance at the State Finals.

“We are so proud of Kyle, and all he has managed these past four weeks with an IT band injury,” Clarey said. “He’s overcome a lot, and certainly been a leader on the course and in practices.”

Junior Nathaniel Kucera was 103rd overall at 15:51.

“Nathaniel Kucera didn’t even make our state roster last fall. He turned that disappointment into fuel for a fire that allowed him to post an incredible 15:51 PR,” Clarey said. “His story from 2011 to 2012 will be long remembered, and cherished.”

Senior teammate John Meisinger took 111th at 15:53.

“Seeing seniors like Meisinger leave the course smiling and fulfilled is probably the best part of our day, as coaches,” Clarey said.

Junior Luis Acosta was fifth-best on the team and 139th overall with an effort of 16:12. Kaneland senior Brandon Huber was 157th overall at 16:22, while junior Ryan Bower finished the State lineup at 16:32 for 165th place.

“There isn’t a trophy for what this team achieved, but there’s great satisfaction in knowing that their group set the new standard over another that was Coach Eddington’s greatest cross country team,” Clarey said. “Granted, we are twice the size of a school now than when Larry’s crew won in ‘87.”

Good enough

Boys XC punches Sectional ticket with 2nd-place finish
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—If it weren’t for Crystal Lake Central, Kaneland High School boys cross country would have even more to celebrate.

As it stands, celebrating a berth at the Belvidere Sectional is cause enough.

With a pack separated by 46 seconds, the Knight lineup took second at the Class 2A Kaneland Regional on Saturday, thanks to a 69 point total.

Crystal Lake finished with 31 points, while Sycamore had 96 points to be the third and last unit to travel to the Sectional. The Spartans edged Prairie Ridge by one point.

Burlington Central, Woodstock, Hampshire and Rochelle rounded out the eight-team field.

“The team had a better overall performance than the conference meet,” KHS coach Chad Clarey said. “We have some mental hurdles to clear, but this group can respond quickly with great senior leadership.”

Crystal Lake senior Alex Baker was the first of three straight teammates to top the race, and finished with a leading time of 15 minutes, 37.1 seconds.

Kaneland’s top runner was senior leader Conor Johnson, who finished sixth with a time of 16:36.9.

Following closely was junior teammate Kyle Carter, who finished with a time of 16:37.2.

In 13th place was Knight junior Nathaniel Kucera, who finished with an effort of 16:56.5.

Junior Luis Acosta was fourth-best for the Kaneland lineup in 20th place overall at 17:14.4, and Brandon Huber was 23rd with a time of 17:24.0.

“We know the rigors of our home course, and we needed to get a solid race in and finish the day healthy,” Clarey said.

The boys race begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27, with successful teams from the Antioch and Belvidere North Regionals.

Modified lineup takes Byron Handicap meet

Cutsinger, Kuipers emerge from pack for boys XC
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—If it’s early October, you’ll know where to find Kaneland boys cross country.

They’ll be in Byron, Ill., ahead of everyone else.

Such was the case on Oct. 3, when the Knight boys cross country outfit made its usual stop for the Byron Handicap Invite.

Kaneland’s mastery of the staggered starts and the other seven schools led to 26 points and a victory.

The host Tigers finished with 43 team points, followed by Bureau Valley and 94 points.

Eliminating a 20-second disadvantage, Kaneland’s Phil Cutsinger finished in 17 minutes, 5 seconds, followed by teammate Joe Kuipers in second at 17:10.

“(Phil’s) worked very hard this season, and we’re happy to see him achieve this,” KHS coach Chad Clarey said. “Joe is just an amazingly humble and hard-working young man.”

Two Byron runners took the third and fourth spots before Kaneland struck again with Matt Rodway’s fifth-place nod at 17:38.

Nick Albano and Gus Stott helped wrap up the team title, as well, along with Brad Kigyos and Ryan Paulson.

Clarey, even with the top seven runners held out of the lineup, was pleased to see the competition bend toward KHS.

“We held out our top seven runners, and went with the great depth of our lineup versus some talented western fringe schools. Byron was second to us, and put up a great fight. Byron is the seventh-ranked team in Class 1A,” Clarey said.

Ahead for the Kaneland lineup is the LaSalle-Peru-hosted Northern Illinois Big XII Conference meet on Saturday, Oct. 13.

“Our bottom line is that we are coming to give the best of ourselves, and to let the chips fall where they may,” Clarey said. “We’ve had a rough string of less than stellar performances at the conference meet for more years than we care to admit. By no means is it because our kids are not prepared or don’t give the best they’ve got. Our training has been built over the years, to help point us toward our best performances coming when we need them.”

Knight boys run circles around Freeport

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—There’s nothing like a victory pretzel.

You can ask the Kaneland High School boys cross-country team.

This past Saturday brought the 36th annual Freeport Pretzel Invite, and it was won by Kaneland.

The Knights’ total of 31 was due to five Knights placing in the top 12 runners in the entire field.

Second place was owned by Rockford Jefferson with 60, followed by Winnebago in third at 74, and Rock Falls at 110.

A key to the Kaneland harrier success was the team’s pack split, which KHS coach Chad Clarey always stresses as being a key to success.

“One of our best pack runs of the season today, with a 1-7 split of just 63 seconds,” he said.

Junior asset Kyle Carter overtook the field after the mile mark and won the course in 15:23.55. Next for KHS was Conor Johnson who ran an impressive time of 15:34.01 after a late push.

John Meisinger finished sixth with a time of 15:57.83.

“His 15:57 was one of his best performances of the season, and a key to the team win,” Clarey said.

Teammate Ryan Bower took ninth at 16:15.38, continuing his first-year varsity trajectory. Luis Acosta was the fifth Knight runner to finish, in 12th at 16:20.22.

“We need to rest, recover and push hard to maintain the great start we’ve built for ourselves,” Clarey said. “This is a special group, with outstanding senior leadership. We hope to continue this, bringing all 31 boys to the finish.”

The boys battle competition at the Sterling Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 6.

6th in crowded ACC field marks good day for boys XC

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Despite an early scare in which an early fall led to a chain-reaction pile-up shortly after the race’s start, the Kaneland boys cross country team saw positive developments at the ACC Invite on Saturday.

“We had a very encouraging and fortunate day. Encouraging to see our pack split 1-6 of just 65 seconds, fortunate that none of our runners were seriously injured,” KHS head coach Chad Clarey said.

The Knights finished in sixth place with 169 points, with fellow Northern Illinois Big XII outfit Yorkville finishing second in the Aurora Central Catholic Charger Classic with 92 points, just three behind race king Normal U-High.

Oswego East runner Charles Thornton was tops in the 2.9 mile race with a time of 14:41.9, but the Knights boasted their own impressive totals.

Junior Kyle Carter finished sixth with a time of 14:57.4, and becomes the first KHS runner to break the 15-minute barrier on the course.

“It was a very big day for him, given the training he’s been doing this week,” Clarey said.

Conor Johnson finished in 20th place by running 15:15.2—this after being involved in the pileup of competitors early on in the course. Senior John Meisinger set a PR and finished in 44th, at 15:46.1, and junior Ryan Bower was 61st at 16:00.8, setting another PR by 32 seconds.

The Knights try to leave the field in knots on Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Freeport Pretzel Invite.

Bringing their best

Photo: Kyle Carter (891) dukes it out with DeKalb’s Marc Dubrick at the Eddington Invitational Saturday at Elburn Woods. Photos by Ryan Wells

Boys XC team sets numerous personal records at Eddington
by Ryan Wells
Kaneland—Across the board, the KHS boys cross country team stepped up in a big way for one of the biggest races of the year, the annual Larry Eddington Invitation at Kaneland’s home course at Elburn Woods.

All seven of Kaneland’s runners set some form of personal record on their home course.

“I thought our boys did very well,” KHS head coach Chad Clarey said. “All the guys that competed were either hitting their PR for the season on their home course or their career PR here.”

As a team, the Knights finished sixth with 140 points. Crystal Lake Central pulled away in the second half of the race to score 61 team points, good for the overall victory. Jacobs finished second with 91, followed by West Aurora (109), Benet Academy (128) and DeKalb (129). Mooseheart ran in its first-ever cross country race as a team, taking 15th overall.

Kaneland junior Kyle Carter led the team with a fourth-place finish, with a time of 16:08. He said the atmosphere spurred the Knights to push the pace throughout the course.

“It’s quite an honor to represent Kaneland and Larry Eddington, of course, and … we just wanted to represent Kaneland as best we can,” Carter said.

Because Carter trains at Elburn Woods regularly, he said he knew that being familiar with the difficult, hilly course could give the team an edge. He said he tried to come out of the start at a faster pace than usual.

“I went out a little fast, but I was trying to push the pace because most guys can’t handle the hills as good as us, because we work here all the time,” he said.

He said that after the initial burst, the lead group settled in before hitting the two-mile mark on the three-mile race.

“We just got to the two mile, and then the race really began,” he said. “They really took off and then I just hung on.”

Clarey said Carter ran a 29-second personal record on the home course.

“I think he was pumped up about getting started and he wanted to have a strong time,” Clarey said.

Senior Connor Johnson was the second Knight to cross the finish line, taking 18th overall with a time of 16:41, 24 seconds faster than his previous best time.

“This was a huge race for him,” Clarey said. “As a senior, he really stepped up and led our charge to be our No. 2 runner.”

Senior John Meisenger came into the race with a goal of hitting near 17 minutes, and he accomplished it, finishing 34th overall with a time of 17 minutes flat. That time served as an eight-second personal record.

Meisenger said that the early fast pace was a bit faster than he normally runs, but he anticipated it happening at the Eddington Invite.

“That was a faster mile for me coming into the first mile, but we’re used to setting the first mile faster,” he said.

Junior Ryan Bower was the fourth Knight across the finish line, taking 40th overall with a time of 17:15. That shaved 30 seconds off his career best time.

“Ryan Bower is new to varsity; he’s filling that role we need to have somebody come up and be a four or five guy,” Clarey said.

Junior Brandon Huber made a pre-race decision to run the race at all, as he was facing some soreness in his foot that morning. He finished in 17:23, good for 44th overall, cutting some time off his personal best on the course as well.

“He was a little bit sore this morning in his foot and wasn’t sure if he was going to race or not,” Clarey said. “He decided to jump in and wound up being our fifth man in the race. He did very well, especially with that foot pain.”

Junior Nathaniel Kucera beat his career best by 40 seconds, finishing in 17:38, good for 51st overall.

“He’s an important piece to our puzzle as well,” Clarey said. “We just need to make sure he’s feeling healthy.”

Ryan Paulson stepped in at the last minute to run as the seventh Knight, and used that motivation to set a 45-second PR on the home course. He finished in 18:00, taking 60th overall.

“I think it boosts up the momentum,” Paulson said of running as the host team at a big event like Eddington. “It really tries to push you to do better.”

“He’s another senior that really stepped out; when we needed him he stepped in and did a great job on this home course,” Clarey said.

Kaneland will travel to the ACC Invite on Saturday, Sept. 22.

Knight runners excel at Peoria

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—One can only hope this past Saturday was a preview for bigger things down the course.

At Peoria High School’s First to the Finish race on Saturday, featuring the best Class 2A has to offer at Detweiller Park, the Knights ran away with a third-place nod.

With 184 team points, the Knights set a new high-water mark for the Peoria meet, after finishing fourth five years ago.

“The boys took advantage of great weather and fast competition to net a third-place finish,” KHS head coach Chad Clarey said. “Our pack split of 56 seconds (one through five) was a major factor in the team’s top five showing.”

Northern Illinois Big XII rival Yorkville’s 88 was tops out of 45 schools, followed by Normal U-High’s 119.

Kyle Carter was the flag-bearer for the Knight roster, finishing 10th overall with a time of 15 minutes, 23 seconds—setting a KHS record for the course, and also beating his own 2011 State race time by 22 seconds.

Next for KHS was Conor Johnson, who finished 30th with a time of 15:51, clipping his own state time by nine seconds.

John Meisinger was 40th with a time of 16:05, followed by Ryan Bower with a time of 16:08 (45th place).

KHS coach Chad Clarey was pleased with the 56 second pack split, and the Knights’ depth.

“John Meisinger and Ryan Bower each looked very strong,” Clarey said. “Another major key to our day was Luis Acosta. (He) ran nearly 30 seconds faster than his 2011 State time, and looks like a seasoned veteran.”

Acosta finished 59th at 16:19.

Ahead for KHS is the storied Eddington Invite at Elburn Woods on Saturday, Sept. 15.

Knight XC tops East Aurora, Yorkville

Kaneland—For the second week in a row, Kaneland’s pack-running mentality proved successful as the Knights cross country team defeated both East Aurora and Yorkville at Elburn Woods on Tuesday.

“Training through another Tuesday meet, our team finished the day healthy, and to win was a bonus,” KHS head coach Chad Clarey said. “Making the transition from summer training to the real thing has taken its toll on energy levels, and we have plenty of aches—just like every other team in the state.”

Kaneland’s 15 points were earned based on the Knights’ pack taking the top six spots. Led by Kyle Carter, who took first with a time of 16:51, the Knights’ lead group took first through sixth place, as well as ninth through 11th.

East Aurora finished second with 55 points, followed by Yorkville with 150.

Conor Johnson (17:15) came in second place, good for a 23-second personal best for the short season. Clarey said he has begun to emerge as a key leader on the team.

“It’s good to see him taking a lead role for the pack, being aggressive through mile one and maintaining speed the rest of the way,” Clarey said.

Ryan Bower (17:52), Luis Acosta (18:04), John Meisenger (18:12) and Brandon Hueber (18:13) completed the top six sweep.

A pair of East Aurora runners were sandwiched between the Knight runners, followed by the Kaneland trio of Ryan Paulson (18:50), Sean Spaetzel (19:03) and Matthew Rodway (19:05). Clarey pointed to Spaetzel, a freshman, as an example of the younger runners who are already making an impact on the team.

“Another standout performance came from freshman Sean Spaetzel, who ran his first three-mile race and wound up finishing in the top 10,” Clarey said.

The Knights run next at the First to the Finish Invitational at Peoria on Saturday, Sept. 8.

Boys Cross Country Preview: Making excellence familiar

Photo: Conor Johnson tries to create distance between himself and the field at Detweiler Park in Peoria, Ill. last year during the Class 2A State race. The 15th best boys’ cross country program is slated to return five of seven top runners in 2012. File photo

Cross country team looks to return to top-tier at state
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—One has to be considered a top-tier team in Class 2A after securing 15th place in the boys cross country finals a year ago.

But Kaneland won’t be satisfied.

Yet, while Kaneland looks to aim even higher this year, the program also has to see how to replace important losses.

Gone from the 2011 season’s top seven are Miki Marin and Clayton Brundige, but the remaining top five look to be a force to be reckoned with.

“The very bottom line for us is it’s a 12-week season,” KHS head coach Chad Clarey said. “It’s a long campaign and there’s always a push by many different teams toward the end. We slowly progress our way toward the season.”

Kyle Carter came on strong as his sophomore season went on, and eventually put up top team numbers.

Carter’s 39th place finish could serve him well as a reminder of what’s possible.

“He had a great season last year. He ran a PR for the course at State, and he’s looking for more this year. He wants more out of himself and wants more out of this team,” Clarey said.

Also returning are senior leaders Conor Johnson, John Meisinger, Brandon Huber and junior Luis Acosta, all with pivotal postseason experience.

“Conor and John stand out right away. Both of them are working through some of those aches and pains. They’ve been in the program. This is their fourth year, and that experience makes a huge difference,” Clarey said.

Huber was touted as the most improved runner a year ago by Clarey, having run 16 minutes, 16 seconds at State.

‘We’re going to use our depth, and we’ve got a huge senior class,” Clarey said.

The sense of the moment allowed Kaneland to power through a stacked sectional hosted by Belvidere a year ago, and it will be a challenge to break through that upper class lineup.

The season opens at Elburn Woods on Tuesday, Aug. 28, with a meet against West Chicago and Wheaton Academy.

Varsity roster
Seniors
Nick Albano
Conor Johnson
Bradley Kigyos
Joe Kuipers
John Meisenger
Nicholas Messina
Ryan Paulson
Joseph Pollastrini
Matthew Rodway
Christopher Wido

Juniors
Luis Acosta
Ryan Bower
Kyle Carter
Phillip Cutsinger
Nathaniel Kucera
Dylan Kuipers
Marcus Stott

Sophomores
Andrew Lesak
Brandon Park
Connor Pennington
Philip Rawers
James Walker

Freshmen
Aaron French
Alexander Gale
Joseph Kuchera
William Kuipers
Kyle Osborne
Sean Spaetzel
Ryan Weber

Head coach
Chad Clarey

Varsity Boys Cross Country Schedule
• Tuesday, Aug. 28; 4:30 p.m.
Home vs. W. Acad., W. Chicago
• Tuesday, Sept. 4; 4:30 p.m.
Home vs. E. Aurora, Yorkville
• Saturday, Sept. 8; 11 a.m.
At First to the
Finish Invite—Peoria
• Saturday, Sept. 15; 9 a.m.
Home—Eddington Meet
• Saturday, Sept. 22; 9 a.m.
At ACC Invite
• Saturday, Sept. 29; 9:30 a.m.
At Freeport Pretzel Invite
• Wednesday, Oct. 3; 4:15 p.m.
At Byron Handicap Invite
• Saturday, Oct. 6; 9 a.m.
At Sterling Invite
• Saturday, Oct. 13; 9 a.m.
at LaSalle Peru
NIB XII Conference

The 88 keys


The 1988 Boys Cross Country Team was inducted into the Kaneland Hall of Fame at halftime during the boys varsity basketball game against Ottawa last Friday. Pictured L to R: Kaneland High School Athletic Director Leigh Jaffke, Kaneland School District Superintendant Dr. Jeff Schuler, Kevin McQuade, Jim Probst, Tim Wolf, Jake and Luke Fahrenbacher (Coach Eddington’s grandsons), Chad Clarey and Casey Wright. Shown is Dr. Schuler shaking the hand of Coach Eddington’s grandson Luke. Photo by Patti Wilk

Top-15 finish at State for KHS boys

Photo: Conor Johnson tries to create distance between himself and the field at Detweiler Park in Peoria, Ill., on Saturday during the Class 2A State race. The 15th best boys’ cross country program is slated to return five of seven top runners in 2012. Photo by Marshall Farthing

by Mike Slodki
PEORIA—Kaneland’s boys cross country lineup went after the finish line all season long, with the burden of sizable turnover from last year.

Even with factors like that, as well as nagging injuries to key personnel, the Knight harriers made the most of their 15th trip to the State race in 25 years.

With a team total of 371 points, KHS took 15th in all of Class 2A after Saturday’s Detweiler Park gathering in Peoria, Ill.

The seven-deep Knight lineup ran the course with an average time of 16 minutes, 8.1 seconds, and had a pack discrepancy of 57 seconds.

Tops in Class 2A was the always dangerous Belvidere North, with 110 points and four athletes in the top 15. Former Western Sun Conference rival Glenbard South was second at 128, followed by Normal U-High at 173.

NIB-12 mate Yorkville was sixth overall with 209 points. Local outfit Marmion Academy took ninth at 258 points.

Decatur MacArthur’s Michael Clevenger’s 14:26 effort was good for first place, followed by Belvidere North’s Tyler Yunk at 14:32 and Charleston entry Riley McInerney at 14:40.

For Kaneland, the conclusion to 2011 gets it on par with the outstanding fifth-place finish two years ago. In 2010, KHS sent Trevor Holm to State, where he finished 37th.

As he’s done quite often during his sophomore season, Kyle Carter had the top total for the Knights, finishing with the 38th best time of 15:45.

Junior Conor Johnson took 59th with a time of 16 minutes flat, followed by teammate John Meisinger in 60th, one second behind.

Meisinger was impressed at the team’s fortunes.

“This was a big year, we had good team unity and wanted to see what we could do after Trevor left. With all the races, even if you don’t know, you are always improving,” Meisinger said.

Brandon Huber finished 85th at 16:16, while Miroljub Marin took 129th at 16:41. Luis Acosta was 139th overall at 16:48, and Clayton Brundige was 155th at at 17:04.

KNIGHTS XC
Luis Acosta Nick Albano
Ryan Bower Clayton Brundige
Kyle Carter Brandon Huber
Conor Johnson Brad Kigyos
Miroljub Marin John Meisinger
Ryan Paulson Nate Rehkopf
Head Coach Chad Clarey

Letter: A letter from Kaneland boys cross country coach Chad Clarey

It was fitting that our 15th state team qualifier for boys finished in the top 15 this year. Losing great seniors a year ago, we may have surprised some people by earning our third team berth in the last four years.

Sophomore Kyle Carter (53rd overall, 15:45) led our charge again this week. He put himself out in the mix of top 40 runners and raced very well for his first time in the state finals. He will go down as the fastest Kaneland sophomore to ever run at state, and just 20 seconds from our school’s best time, set by Trevor Holm a year ago.

Kyle has been a busy young man, not taking a single weekend off of racing since Labor Day. That’s a long grind for any runner. He never complained; just laced up his spikes and gave it his all.

The best of friends, John Meisenger and Conor Johnson, finished in a near-dead heat, with Conor outleaning John for 79th and 80th overall places, respectively. Very nice to see Conor back up in a scoring role, he helped us with for much of the season. His smile at the end may have been one of the highlights on the boy’s side of the Kaneland day. Meisenger passed plenty through the final two miles, using his surges very well. His consistency and toughness are key ingredients to what we will bring next fall.

Junior Brandon Huber (108th, 16:16) has been a special “find” this year. He found out early on that he could compete with Johnson and Meisenger. He hangs in there so well and gives us a consistent punch with the top four. He was brilliant on a weekly basis, and we look forward to what he’ll do as a senior.

Our fifth scoring runner, Miroljub Marin (159th, 16:40) completed our tally with a strong finishing kick. In his first year out for the team, he learned a great deal and helped give us the chance to compete at finals. He cares a lot about his teammates, and he is a very dedicated athlete. His leadership was always present, and we are fortunate to have had him.

Runner No. 6 Luis Acosta, a sophomore, gained very valuable experience today. He used his great speed at the end to close on Marin in the end, and pushing the score up on six other teams. We hope he has turned a corner on his thoughts about running these distances. He’s a super 800 runner and young, but this is his second state meet, and the experience will pay huge dividends later in his career.

Senior Clayton Brundige (190th, 17:04) was a rock-solid veteran leader who has been to this meet before. A two-time alternate, he gleaned a great deal of understanding about leadership from the Valles, Markusons and Reusches of his early years. To cap his cross country career with his entire family in tow was special. Clayton is as nice a young man as you can meet—sincere, yet a heck of a runner. I hope he has a huge track season and goes out in style at state.

We return five of seven runners next fall. Experience was a big factor for us in today’s race. We got it. They are motivated by it. To do more, we’ll have to give more in training and all the other sacrifices a great team makes. There’s no question we were blessed this year, and losing our senior class, including Nate Rehkopf and others, will be a blow. But this team has a hunger now, which will only be satisfied by making a return trip to Detweiler.

Well done, Knights. You’ve made our program shine once again.

Chad Clarey
KHS cross country coach

‘One solid group’ gets to a better State

Photo: Kyle Carter (right) strides on Saturday, as he has done all season, as part of the State-bound Knight boys cross country squad. Photo by Mike Slodki

Fourth-place means 15th trip to State in 25 years
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—In a loaded Class 2A sectional hosted by Belvidere High School, Knight boys cross country had quite the challenge ahead of it and quite the trail to conquer.

If qualifying for the State race in Peoria this weekend is any indication, Kaneland went above and beyond, qualifying as a team.

KHS finished Saturday with 208 team points, two points ahead of final qualifying team Grayslake Central.

Belvidere North, with junior star Tyler Yunk, was first with 60 points, and Yorkville was second with 89 points.

Crystal Lake Central was third with 129 points.

The productive showing marks an improvement over a year ago, with one Knight, Trevor Holm, qualifying in 2010. The entire team qualified in 2009 and finished fifth.

“To take a busload of boys and girls to State for this meet hasn’t happened since 1992,” KHS coach Chad Clarey said. “To share this special day with them is great. We look forward to the chance to represent our community well in Peoria.”

Using a solid, 40-second pack split, something that Clarey has stressed the utmost importance of in 2011, the Knights’ Kyle Carter was the top finisher for his group in 19th place at 15 minutes, 59.9 seconds.

“What a great breakout sophomore season for him. Him and Brandon Huber are probably our most improved runners,” Clarey said.

Following close behind was 33rd-place John Meisinger at 16:18.8.

Teammate Huber was 49th and next for KHS at 16:34.7.

The fourth-best runner for the Knights was integral to the bottom line: Miki Marin, hobbled by a bum hamstring.

“He started passing, and didn’t stop for the last two miles. He ran a perfect race and did everything we asked of him. These boys came together as one solid group,” Clarey said.

Conor Johnson finished fifth for KHS with a time of 16:39, good for 56th.

Also in the mix on Saturday was Luis Acosta, at 17:03 (88th place). Senior Clayton Brundige was 109th at 17:24, and now a three-year member of the Kaneland State caravan, having gone in ‘08 and ‘09.

The boys’ race is set to begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5.

Fifth place at own regional good for boys XC

Photo courtesy YorkvilleCrossCountry.com

by Mike Slodki
ELBURN—When you deal with boys cross-country rosters like Yorkville and Crystal Lake Central, the squeeze for sectionals can be a bit crowded.

Luckily, Kaneland’s crew can worry about Sectionals as an active participant.

The Knights, thanks to a 127-point output, took fifth place at the 2A regional at Elburn Woods on Saturday morning and are headed to Belvidere’s sectional.

The Foxes had 36 points, followed by CLC with 71, DeKalb with 117 and Burlington Central with 118.

Other teams advancing to this weekend were Aurora Central Catholic (138) and Sycamore (142).

Crystal Lake Central entry Alex Baker, a junior, was tops on the traditionally hilly course with a time of 15 minutes, 47 seconds, ahead of Rocket Clint Kliem by 3.3 seconds.

For the Knights, sophomore Kyle Carter came through again with a time of 16:33.1, good for ninth overall.

Junior John Meisinger was next in 16th place with a time of 16:55.2.

Knight junior Brandon Huber was 22nd with a time of 17:08.7.

Conor Johnson of KHS took 34th with a time of 17:25.4.

Knights coach Chad Clarey would like to see more of an effective punch lineup-wide. “We qualified as a team for the Sectional, obviously the most important factor of the day. We’ll go back to work this week, freshen up and make a run for the top five (Saturday) in Belvidere.”

The Saturday, Oct. 29, race begins at 11 a.m., and also features schools like Grayslake Central, Richmond-Burton, and other Northern Illinois Big XII schools like Dixon, Sterling and Rochelle.

Boys XC sees improvement, third place in NIB-12 action

GENESEO, Ill.—Looking at how the Kaneland High School boys cross-country team performed at the Northern Illnois Big XII Conference meet a year ago, the improvement in the 12-team field is apparent.

Heading into the State series, Kaneland and Co. would love to see even more.

A year after finishing seventh in the conference, KHS upped the performance level to third with a 98-point total in Geneseo, Ill.

Yorkville took the boys crown with 40 points, including four of the top nine runners. DeKalb took second, just four points better than the Knights.

Sycamore and Dixon at 116 and 119, respectively, rounded out the top five.

Geneseo, Sterling, Rochelle, Morris, Ottawa, LaSalle-Peru and Streator went six through 12.

The top runner in the conference for 2011 was Dixon High School’s Simon Thorpe, winning the Maple Leaf course in 16 minutes, two seconds.

The first Knight in the mix was sophomore Kyle Carter, who took fifth at 16:30.3.

“He was very determined the entire race, to battle the elite runners of the field,” KHS coach Chad Clarey said. “His strong performances of late bode well going into the State series.”

Kaneland next crossed the finish line at 17th place, thanks to John Meisinger’s 17:04. Close by in 19th place was Brandon Huber with a time of 17:08. Conor Johnson was 23rd with a 17:14.6 effort.

With the postseason upon them, Clarey thinks conditions are favorable.

“The end is nearing, and we fortunately got ‘the bad race’ out of our systems. Time to go back to what we do best, on our home course at Regionals,” Clarey said.

This Saturday, Oct. 22, brings the Kaneland Regional to Elburn Woods.

A year ago in Malta, Ill., the Knights took third in the regional and advanced as a team to Belvidere’s sectional.

The top returning runner from 2010’s postseason is Johnson, who finished 20th overall.

Johnson, Carter show improving times at ACC

by Mike Slodki
AURORA—Oakhurst Park in Aurora was the site of a new challenge for the Kaneland boys cross country squad, and the Knights met it in a tough field.

With 204 points, Kaneland’s young but deep roster procured a ninth-place finish out of 18 squads. Yorkville won the meet with 91 points.

“We accomplished what we set out to do, closing the gap on schools ahead of us and racing to some personal best times,” KHS coach Chad Clarey said.

Plainfield East, Marmion Academy, Oswego and West Aurora rounded out the top five.

Metea Valley High School senior Joe Stewart took the race with a time of 14 minutes, 30.5 seconds.

The top finisher for KHS was first-time top Knight Conor Johnson, who finished at 15:31.3. 29th-place Johnson was followed closely by sophomore Kyle Carter, who finished 33rd at 15:35.2.

Junior John Meisinger took 51st at 15:50.7, with Brandon Huber packed close behind at 15:52.9, good for 53rd.

“We love the versatility of our lineup—to have a different runner popping up with a big race,” Clarey said.

The Knights head off to the Freeport Invite to take care of some NIC-10 compeition on Saturday, Oct. 1.

Impressive totals for boys XC at Eddington Invite

Photo: Kyle Carter ran a PR of 16:51.7 to pace the XC Knights at the Eddington Invitational at Elburn Woods Saturday. Photo by Madeline Cole

by Mike Slodki
ELBURN—If you can’t show your talent on the home stage at Elburn Woods, when can you show it?

Kaneland’s boys cross country team finished in sixth place out of 18 teams at its Eddington Invite showcase on Saturday morning, garnering 148 points and seeing noteworthy times from the top tier.

“We had a strong effort in a talented field of teams,” KHS coach Chad Clarey said. “We have some more work to do, but we like where we are headed.”

Crystal Lake Central won the meet with 88 points, followed by Benet Academy at 106 and Jacobs at 114.

Jacobs’ entry William Hennessy was tops with a 15 minute, 47.9 second tally. Kaneland sophomore Kyle Carter ran a PR of 16:51.7.

The sophomore was pleased with the individual and team effort.

“It was a great race,” Carter said. “We all did well and stuck as a pack, which is important, and it was an overall good day.”

Carter’s fellow Knight Conor Johnson (20th place) finished the hilly course in 17:05.9. John Meisinger was close behind in 22nd at 17:08.9. Junior Brandon Huber was next for the Knights in 43rd at 17:28.4.

The Knights take on the field at the Aurora Central Catholic Invite on Saturday, Sept. 24.

Knights’ pack disposes of competition

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Kaneland boys cross-country might not miss a step for a long while.

With 20 points, compared to West Chicago’s 48 points and Wheaton Academy’s 65, the Knights got off to a productive start, making coach Chad Clarey pleased.

“Our varsity boys got out quickly through the first mile, packed up and raced very well on a perfect night for running. We are encouraged with where we are heading at this early point in the season,” Clarey said.

Racing his first varsity competition, Miroljub Marin aced the field with a time of 17 minutes, 18.7 seconds, edging teammate John Meisenger who finished in 17:19.56.

After Marcus Delatorre of West Chicago took third, Conor Johnson of Kaneland finished fourth at 17:35.2, while teammate Nate Rehkopf took fifth at 17:38.

The next challenge for boys cross-country takes place on Tuesday, Sept. 6, against East Aurora and Yorkville.

Boys XC curbing loss of 3 key parts

Photo: Knights boys cross-country braves the August environment, and key losses from a year ago. Photo by Mike Slodki

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—On a mid-August day with creeping humidity, the Knights boys cross-country pack attacks practice in a business-like manner—like it’s part of the day’s task.

Don’t let the demeanor or method fuel you, as the passion runs deep for Kaneland’s crew.

They’ll need it to nullify the graduation of State-goer Trevor Holm (Western Illinois University), Grant Alef (University of Minnesota) and Tommy Whittaker.

“They see this almost as a part-time job, but the passion is there. A lot of these kids, this is their favorite sport,” 17th-year head coach Chad Clarey said. “For some, it’s track, but for a lot of them, they really enjoy cross-country.”

“A lot of them see the tradition we’ve had in the past, and they aspire to write their own chapter,” Clarey adds.

On the senior side, Clayton Brundige, sectional entry Nate Rehkopf and newcomer Miki Marin provide a fourth-year spark.

“Senior leadership is very important. We’ve graduated great seniors in the past, but they’ve left their mark,” Clarey said.

Other seniors include Austin Paulson, Kelvin Peterson and John Michek, who Clarey finds have been leading by example with their work put in.

Juniors are varsity returnees and top-7 placements John Meisenger and Conor Johnson, allowing with Nick Messina, Ryan Paulson, Gus Stott, Brad Kigyos, Nicholas Albano, Chris Wido, Brandon Huber, Joey Pollastrini, Brayden Miller and Joe Kuipers.

“John and Conor are two names that will be relied upon heavily to make up that top five,” Clarey said.

Spearheading the sophomore movement with a chance at varsity time are Luis Acosta, Ryan Bower, Kyle Carter and Nathaniel Kucera. Additonal sophomores include Garrett Patterson, Dylan Kuipers and Phil Cutsinger.

Freshman on the Knights’ radar include Adam Lesak, Brandon Park, James Walker and Zachary Justus.

Clarey is eager to see improvement meet consistency, especially in a tight Northern Illinois Big XII.

“Yorkville is the clear-cut favorite, and we’d like to be in the top three. I think we have the capabilities of doing that,” Clarey said.

The season’s starting gun fires on Tuesday, Aug. 30, against West Chicago and Wheaton Academy.

Letter: Thank you, Leaders of Troop 7

A centennial celebration began in 2010 that most of you may not have realized. The Boy Scouts of America celebrated 100 years of organization and dedication to the young men of America.

I would like to recognize the adult leaders of Elburn’s Troop 7 for the outstanding service they provide to more than 25 boys in the community on an annual basis. For 87 years strong, Troop 7 has thrived, and cultivated many successful young men. Not that long ago, I was among those boys who regularly met at Elburn’s Congregational Church with the troop. It was there, and at a variety of High Adventure camps with my fellow scouts, that I learned some of the most valuable lessons of my life.

The men and women who volunteered as my leaders then, exactly as they do now, helped shape who I am today by being living examples of the Scout Law: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.” I’ve ingrained these words into my own work as an adult, and I can’t help but wonder, what might my life have been without scouting?

Scouting teaches boys about the value of heritage, as well as leadership skills. Boys are motivated by achievement, moving up the many different ranks from Tenderfoot, to Star, to Eagle; every one of them earned. Their character is tested on a weekly basis, and more often than not, that Scout Law comes into play when it’s time to make a decision. And the impact on a scout’s potential in life is greatly enhanced, not only by the work they’ve put forth to earn merit badges, but by the experiences they have and learn when guided by their adult leaders.

Elburn Troop 7 has been one of Fox Valley’s best at graduating boys to the rank of Eagle. In 2008, only 2 percent of all the boys in Scouting rose to the rank of Eagle. In the six years that I was a member of Troop 7, nine of my fellow scouts earned that highest rank. If you interviewed those nine, I guarantee you that each would say their Eagle Award would not have been earned without the presence, dedication and thrust of the leaders. Not only do the former and current leaders of our troop sacrifice an evening a week to the boys of the Elburn community, but also their own personal vacation days, as well as sometimes hundreds to thousands of dollars in personal finances, in order to help fund trips, food and expenses for Eagle project materials that aren’t donated.

If you have a son who is entering fifth grade, and you are looking for new ways to challenge, thrill, and teach him how to not only be responsible and respectful, but motivated and a “go getter,” then I offer the Boys Scouts of America, and Troop 7’s services to you.

Get your son (and yourself) involved in scouting. The bond your family will share through the experiences is indescribable. I thank God that my own dad was one of the leaders of Troop 7. Without his example and push, I’d not be the adult I am today.

Elburn’s scouting heritage is alive and well, thanks to the amazing men and women who have stepped up to lead. Everyone’s invited to Troop 7’s annual pancake breakfast on the Saturday morning of Elburn Days at Lion’s Park. Come meet the young men, and their leaders, who are shaping the next leaders of America. I applaud their service to Elburn and our country.

Chad Clarey
Batavia teacher
Kaneland coach
Troop 7 Eagle Scout (’89)