Tag Archives: Doug Ecker

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2014 Girls Track & Field Preview: Making their mark

Photo: Freshman Nicole Sreenan looks to make an impact on the varsity level this season for Doug Ecker’s Lady Knights. Photo Submitted by Jocelyn Ocon

Lady Knights have rivals bracing for impact
KANELAND—Kaneland High School girls track always seems to have personnel that gets hot at the right time.

The postseason honors and red-hot streaks come sectional time are only possible thanks to hard work put in by young and old alike on the team.

KHS is hoping it’s no different in 2014.

“Overall, the team has been healthy, except for the normal illness from time to time,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said.

A year ago, Kaneland was chock-full of state finalists with PRs. Of those returning, Lauren Zick, future St. John’s University softball player, finished 11th in long jump. Aislinn Lodwig, Jessica Kucera and Sydney Strang were part of the ninth-place 4x800m relay. Brianna Bower broke a 26-year-old school record in the 3200m run, good for seventh. Victoria Clinton returns off a Florida triathlon and a 1600m qualifying berth from a year ago, as well.

The Lady Knights that have been to the elite grouping have a work ethic, but keep working. It also provides a dynamic with coaching.

“In track, for coaches who coach more than one event, it allows you to give a workout to one group to do on their own, at least in part while you can work with another group. In track and field, if they do not learn to be at least partly self-reliant they will not be successful,” Ecker said.

The veteran set is not only highlighted by Zick in the long jump, but fellow state-goer Christina Delach in the pole vault and Elle Tattoni in the throws.

“We have some freshmen along with several upperclassmen who may make an impact down the road, as we have a chance to develop them,” Ecker said.

On the track side, middle distance and distance personnel who know success are Strang, Bower, Kucera, Lodwig. They’re joined by freshman Becca Richtman. Sprints and hurdles include Zick, 4x400m State-qualifying member Allie Heinzer, Olivia Galor. Also invading the distance ranks is Kyla Goodine, who saw flashes of brilliance in regular season action. The Lady Knights are also joined by junior rookie Taylor Eaves, Nicole Sreenan and Carly Elliot for distance.

The Northern Illinois Big XII is no different in 2014, in terms of capable teams fighting for supremacy.

“Yorkville may be the team to beat. Geneseo is the three-time defending conference champions. It will come down to who has the most depth and can stay healthy,” Ecker said.

The outdoor season begins on Tuesday, April 8, at home against Burlington Central and Oregon. Kaneland’s Jill Holmes Invitational is Saturday, April 12, with Jenni’s ABC on Saturday, April 19. The Kane County Meet is hosted by Kaneland on Friday, May 2, with Dixon the host for the NIB-12 meet on Friday, May 9.

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Lady Knights display Peoria power

Collective effort yields fifth place in Class 2A final
PEORIA, ILL—There may have been no individual state champ for the Lady Knights cross country squad in 2013, but the team-wide effort was still something to behold.

Detweiller Park in Peoria, Ill. was the site for the Class 2A State final race, and saw the Kaneland roster’s fortunes and talent produce a fifth-place team finish.

Kaneland was led by team assets sophomore Brianna Bower, junior Aislinn Lodwig and senior Victoria Clinton, who paced the attack to a 246-point finish. The Lady Knights were given tiebreaker advantage over Chatham Glenwood.

The Lady Knights looked up at only four other teams in the Class 2A setting, with Northern Illinois Big XII rival Yorkville’s 104 points nabbing the trophy, followed by Glenbard South at 130, Vernon Hills at 181 and Marengo at 231.

Yorkville’s program has now nabbed three titles in a row.

For Kaneland, the finish marks a one-place improvement from last year’s sixth-place and 180-point output. It marked a third-straight top-10 finish, with the team finishing eighth in 2011, and marked the highest team finish in 24 years. The Lady Knights’ pack time was 1:47 last year, compared to just 54 seconds in 2013.

The overall individual champion in the competition was Riverside-Brookfield senior Mailin Struck at 16:35, beating Peoria Notre Dame’s Maryjeanne Gilbert by 29 seconds.

For Kaneland, Bower finished in 37th place with a time of 18:33, Lodwig, only healthy in the last five weeks of the year, was in 54th at 18:59, while Clinton, last year’s individual champion, took 76th overall at 19:12. Rounding out the top 5 for the Kaneland outfit were necessary components Abby Shaw and Erika Carlson, with the freshman Shaw finishing in 19:20 for 88th, and Carlson capping her senior season in 94th place with a time of 19:26.

Also taking the course for KHS were seniors Sydney Strang in 126th (19:58) and Anna Piazza in 148th (20:16).

Coach Doug Ecker couldn’t have been more pleased.

“The mark of this team was their ability to overcome injuries and setbacks, having eight or nine runners step up in various races to cover for injured or sick teammates,” Ecker said. “They truly got the most out of their season. I enjoyed every minute of coaching them.”

KHS girls cross country says goodbye to seniors Carlson, Riley Coyle, Christina Delach, Kayla Hedgren, Piazza and Strang.


Photos by Mary Paulson

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Just enough: Girls cross country’s fifth place means another trip to Peoria

Photo: Senior Erika Carlson stepped up for the Lady Knights, running as their No. 3 with a time of 19:30. File Photo

KANELAND—Looks like the Lady Knights cross country squad had just enough on Saturday in Belvidere, Ill.

Due to their 176-point total, the Kaneland girls cross country lineup earned the last Class 2A State qualifying margin by 27 points over Woodstock at the Sectional meet at Belvidere High School.

The Lady Knights, who saw sophomore Victoria Clinton take the top prize in 2012, now set plans for the Class 2A finals on Saturday, Nov. 9, at Detweiller Park in Peoria, Ill.

Crystal Lake Central was crowned Sectional champs with a 103-point total, followed by Marengo at 121, Vernon Hills at 126 and Lake Forest at 141.

Senior Maura Beattie of Woodstock took the course with a stellar time of 17 minutes, 43 seconds. For Kaneland, the troop was led by junior Clinton, who finished 11th at 18:31. Sophomore Brianna Bower continued her steady trajectory with a 18:37 for 15th place. Third-best for KHS was senior Erika Carlson in 42nd at 19:30. Rounding out the top five for Kaneland: freshman Abby Shaw in 53rd at 19:46, and veteran junior Aislinn Lodwig at 55th in 19:49.

For the third year in a row, the Lady Knight girls saw hard work and a rise to the occasion pay off.

“Once again, Victoria Clinton and Brianna Bower led the way with strong races,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “In arguably the toughest sectional in the state with 8-9 teams running for five spots, I’m very proud of how the girls ran their best race on the day it mattered most. They definitely earned their trip to the State meet.”

In 2012, Clinton’s championship run helped KHS toward a sixth-place team finish, with rival Yorkville and Normal University taking the top two spots on the Peoria course.

Girls cross country advances to Sectional

BURLINGTON, ILL.—One down, one to go in the Kaneland quest for the state meet.

Coach Doug Ecker’s crew, led by a sixth-place finish by sophomore Brianna Bower, secured fourth place at the competitive Burlington Central Regional last Saturday, and more importantly a spot at this Saturday’s Belvidere Sectional.

“The girls finished a respectable fourth at the very competitive 2A Regional,” Ecker said. “Brianna Bower ran her usual strong race to lead the team.”

Bower, running an 18 minute, 42.8 second time over the 3-mile course, was 24 seconds behind individual champion Vivian Overbeck of Vernon Hills.

Junior Victoria Clinton secured an 11th place finish with a time of 19:01 as the second KHS runner to finish. She was followed by three Lady Knights that were within seconds of each other: seniors Sydney Strang (19th, 19:56), Erika Carlson (20th, 19:58) and junior Aislinn Lodwig (22nd, 19:58) packed it up to finish the team’s scoring. Anna Piazza (33rd, 20:30) and Jessica Kucera (46th, 21:09) rounded out the top seven.

The Lady Knights, now ranked eighth in the latest DyestatIL poll released Tuesday, have their work cut out for them at the Belvidere Sectional.

Including the No. 8 Lady Knights, the sectional features No. 3 Crystal Lake Central, No. 5 Vernon Hills, No. 9 Lake Forest, No. 11 Marengo, No. 19 Belvidere North, No. 22 Woodstock and No. 23 Lakes. Only five teams qualify from the sectional to the state meet.

The sectional takes place on the grounds of Belvidere High School, with the girls racing for their chance at the state meet at 10 a.m.

Wild in Whiteside Co.

Girls XC takes seventh at Sterling Invite
STERLING, Ill.—In a Saturday meet hosted by Northern Illinois Big XII outlet Sterling, Kaneland High School girls cross country had to deal with the talented field from the northern half of the state.

After a sixth-place varsity outing, KHS could consider itself part of that talented field that others had to deal with.

Kaneland’s 234-point total was sixth-best of 25 outlets at the meet. The top three featured Minooka (74), Schaumburg (78) and Hoffman Estates (94). The Lady Knights total was behind Iowa City High School’s 221.

While Riverside-Brookfield’s Mailin Struck won the course in 17 minutes, 2 seconds, Kaneland’s pack was paced by sophomore Brianna Bower, who took 12th overall with a time of 18:40. Senior teammate Sydney Strang continued her way back to health had a 27th place outing with a time of 19:06, while junior Aislinn Lodwig was 62nd overall with a time of 20:13. Rounding out the top five for KHS was senior Erika Carlson at 63rd with a time of 20:16, and freshman Abby Shaw at 70th with a 20:24.

KHS saw personal bests from Bower, Strang and Carlson.

The freshman/sophomore end had Kaneland taking ninth with a 283-point total, highlighted by sophomore Noelle Espino’s 20:23 for ninth place.

“The girls continue to work hard in practice and show improvement on a weekly basis,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “Aislinn Lodwig continues to improve after only three weeks of practice and racing.”

On Saturday, Oct. 19, the girls head down, along with the boys, for the Northern Illinois Big XII conference race in Grundy County, hosted by Morris High School. It marks the final race featuring 12 teams in the conference setting, with Dixon and Streator leaving at the end of the 2013-14 school year.

In the right direction

Girls CC looks for October improvements
STERLING, ILL.—As the calendar turns to October, it’s time for cross country teams to start coming together and jelling.

The Kaneland girls cross country squad decided to start a little early, with a solid effort in their annual late September stop at Saturday’s Rock River Run, hosted by Sterling High School.

The Lady Knights were third out of the 15 teams with 134 points, behind only Belvidere North (117) and champion Geneva (49). Northern Illinois Big XII conference-mate Dixon actually tied KHS with 134 points, but Kaneland’s sixth runner, Anna Piazza, broke the tie by placing 49th—Dixon’s sixth runner placed 69th.

Kaneland was led by the 1-2 tandem of sophomore Brianna Bower and junior Victoria Clinton. Bower cracked the top 10, placing eighth with a time of 18 minutes, 58 seconds. Clinton was nearby, placing 13th in 19:19.

“Brianna Bower and Victoria Clinton once again ran solid races to lead the varsity,” head coach Doug Ecker said. “Both are looking to make some dramatic improvement in the next few weeks.”

Senior Erika Carlson was the next Lady Knight to finish, placing 35th in 20:23. Junior Jessica Kucera placed 42nd in 20:35, and freshman Abby Shaw closed out the KHS scoring by placing 48th in personal-best 20:57.

“Erika Carlson continues to impress each week with her consistent effort and improvement,” Ecker said.

Also competing for the varsity race were Piazza (55th, 21:12), Noelle Espino (62nd, 21:29), Sydney Strang (64th, 21:32), Aislinn Lodwig (68th, 21:42), Murphy Garcia (135th, 24:34), Grace Drake (146th, 25:27) Christina Delach (147th, 25:31) and Kayla Hedgren (155th, 26:35).

The freshman/sophomore team also placed fourth in the meet, led by top 15 efforts by Katie Huber (7th, 22:29) and Carly Barholomew (15th, 23:02).

Next up, the girls cross country team heads north to the home of the Pretzels for the Freeport Invitational Saturday at 9 a.m.

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Steady effort at Eddington for girls XC

ELBURN—If one wants to see the quality of the Kaneland girls cross country lineup, one just needs to see the results from the traditional late September staple, the Eddington Inviite

The Elburn Woods-housed event saw the Kaneland group manage an above-average third-place finish out of the 17 teams running on Saturday.

Kaneland’s 122-point total was behind Geneva’s 64 and Crystal Lake Central’s 79. Kaneland bumped Rosary out of the top three by six points, while Belvidere North, at 131, snuck into the top five.

Rounding out the top 10 were Marengo (150), Waubonsie Valley (180), Glenbard East (206), Burlington Central (226) and Hampshire (262).

Kelsey Schrader of DeKalb outlasted the rest of the field with a winning time of 18 minutes, 30.5 seconds.

For Kaneland, sophomore Brianna Bower was the fastest of the black-and-white clad group at 19:16.6, good for fifth overall and a personal best. Junior teammate and State champ Victoria Clinton, in her first 2013 invitational race, was 12th at 19:49.6, followed by junior Jessica Kucera, who took 28th overall at 20:47. Senior Erika Carlson was next for KHS at 21:16.8 for 37th place, and sophomore Noelle Espino was 46th overall at 21:38.7 for her sophomore run of the Eddington.

“(I’m) very happy with the overall effort of all the girls today. Carlson, Kucera and Espino all ran personal best for 3 miles on any course and really competed today on a tough course,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said.

Bower tried to make the most of her home-based opportunity.

“It was really nice, and it was cool and perfect weather to run a race today,” Bower said. “We’re still working up our team with Victoria injured and Sydney (Strang) not feeling good and still trying to get healthy.”
Freshman Abby Shaw showed her strides by finishing as the top Lady Knight in the frosh-soph leg of the morning at 22:25.2, good for 13th place.

Coming up for Kaneland girls cross country is the usual Rock River Run in Sterling, Ill., on Saturday, Sept. 28.

Individual focus

Short-handed Lady Knights look for individual gains

WAUCONDA, Ill.—Without assets like senior Sydney Strang and junior Victoria Clinton in the lineup, the Lady Knights traveled to Wauconda’s 23-team Invitational held Saturday. Head coach Doug Ecker’s ladies finished 14th in the team standings with 390 points, sandwiched between Grant’s 354 and Richmond-Burton’s 400. Cary-Grove (88) won a close battle for first over Lake Zurich (82) and Crystal Lake Central (97). Lake Forest (123) and West Chicago (153) rounded out the top five teams.

Last year, Kaneland finished second only to Crystal Lake Central.

Kaneland sophomore Brianna Bower continued he impressive streak of meets, placing ninth in the 154-girl field with a time of 18 minutes, 44.36 seconds over the rolling hills of Lakewood Forest Preserve. Bower improved over her 2012 time by over 50 seconds when she placed 21st as a freshman.

Senior Erika Carlson was the next KHS runner to cross the finish line, placing 64th with a personal-best time of 20:47. Jessica Kucera (90th, 21:17), Noelle Espino (92nd, 21:20) and Anna Piazza (145th, 24:15) rounded out the KHS varsity.

Next up for the girls cross country squad is the 44th Annual Eddington Cross Country Invitational at Elburn Woods Saturday, Sept. 21. The morning kicks off with the girls varsity race at 9 a.m. The fr/so girls run at 10:15 a.m., and girls open at 11:45 a.m.

“We hope to have our full varsity team running in the next two to three weeks so the girls will continue to focus on individual improvement at this meet,” Ecker said.

Parking for the Eddington Invite will be at Kaneland High School, with regular shuttles available.

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Oregon trail

Photo: Kaneland senior Sydney Strang continued her solid start to the season, earning a fourth-place finish in Oregon, Ill., Saturday. File Photo

Lady Harriers run strong Saturday
OREGON, Ill.—The Lady Knights trekked to Oregon High School Saturday, and left with numerous individual accolades.

In a meet where no team score was kept, Kaneland placed six girls in the top 30 in the varsity race.

Brianna Bower again led the way with a time of 20 minutes, 32 seconds, which was good for third place overall. She was followed closely by Sydney Strang in fourth place, with a time of 20:42. Jessica Kucera also cracked the top ten, placing ninth with a time of 21:26.

“The three mile hilly Oregon High School course is very challenging on a good day to run,” head coach Doug Ecker said. “Today with the hot, humid, sunny conditions, all the girls did a very good job.”

Rounding out the Lady Knights varsity was Anna Piazza (15th, 22:00), Erika Carlson (17th, 22:14) and Noelle Espino (29th, 22:56).

The good times continued in the girls open race, as KHS placed three freshmen in the top five, led by Abby Shaw’s individual win in a time of 22:12.1. Katie Huber (3rd, 23:19) and Grace Dodis (4th, 23:48) were solid as well.

“The three freshmen running their first three mile high school race under today’s conditions were impressive,” Ecker said.

Rounding out the KHS open runners were Brianna Booton (11th, 24:27), Lilah Klingersmith (12th, 24:47), Sarah Daily (16th, 25:27), Carly Bartholomew (23rd, 26:09), Haley Penkala (27th, 26:21), Samantha Sommerville (31st, 26:59), Grace Drake (32nd, 27:08), Christina Delach (33rd, 27:09), Murphy Garcia (38th, 27:29) and Kayla Hedgren (46th, 28:45).

Kaneland canceled a triangular meet Tuesday at Elburn Woods against East Aurora and Yorkville due to hot conditions.

The Lady Knights next travel north to the Wauconda Invitational Saturday at 8:30 a.m.

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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

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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.

Girls track makes case at IWU

Illinois Top Times outing sees 11th-place finish for indoor
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—The Illinois Indoor Track Championship Top Times Track and Field held on Saturday marks the unofficial state meet for indoor track competition.

Kaneland girls track made sure to officially put a stamp on the festivities in a nice send-off to the indoor slate.

The Class AA gathering at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Ill. saw KHS nab 11th place overall with a finals point total of 19 points, tied with downstate Mahomet-Seymour.

Carbondale was first overall with 36 points, followed by Chicago fixture Lindblom with 30. Area rival Marengo was third with 26, followed by Burlington Central with 25.5. Nearby Hampshire was seventh with a total of 23.5.

The Lady Knights made their presence known in several events, beginning with the 60 meter dash. Junior Lauren Zick placed eighth with a time of 7.96 seconds, after earning seventh in the preliminary heat with a 7.97.

Kaneland did well for itself in the demanding 3200m run field, with freshman Brianna Bower taking fourth at 11:26.46, and senior teammate Abby Dodis taking ninth at 11:48.27.

In the 4x400m relay, Kaneland’s entry worked toward a fourth-place nod with a time of 4:08.82, and the 4x800m counterpart took 11th with a time of 10:10.79.

The Lady Knights saw Zick at it again in the field categories, with a mark of 18 feet, five inches in the long jump, just an inch behind Lakes’ Brittani Griesbaum.

“I thought that everyone who competed did well,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “We had indoor personal bests from almost everyone. Brianna Bower in the 3200 meter run and Lauren’s long jump stand out. Abby Dodis in the 3200 meter run was a big breakthrough for her. We are relatively healthy and ready for some good weather for the outdoor season,” Ecker said.

The outdoor season commences for KHS on Tuesday, April 2, at Burlington Central, in a triangular also featuring Oregon.

Indoor success

KHS girls track takes 2nd at NIB-12 indoor meet
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—The number 100 has a nice round edge to it, especially when Kaneland girls track gets that edge.

With the 100 point total on the grounds of Sterling High School for the Northern Illinois Big XII Conference indoor meet, the Lady Knights are sitting quite well leading into the outdoor season.

“(It was) a very good effort all the away around for all the girls,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “It was a step in the right direction for outdoor season when we should have the full team in place.”

Yorkville’s group finished first with 110 points. Geneseo at 88, DeKalb at 55.5 and Sterling at 34.5 rounded out the top three.

Sycamore (29), Morris (19), Dixon (10), Rochelle (10), Ottawa (7) and LaSalle-Peru (2) completed the indoor field.

The exemplary scores were frequent for the Kaneland-clad team in the field events.

Junior Christina Delach’s 8 foot, three inch pole vault effort earned a second-place. Junior Lauren Zick’s 16-10.25 in the long jump was good for third place overall. Senior teammate and triple jump standout Ashley Castellanos took fourth in her event with a 34-foot effort.

Elle Tattoni continued the KHS fortunes in the field by earning third place in the shot put, chucking 34-1.5.

In the track events, freshman Brianna Bower took third in the 3200m run with a time of 11:35.47, while elder teammate Abby Dodis took fourth at 12:24.48. The Kaneland 4x800m relay was second-best at 10:38.27, and in the 60 meter dash, Zick excelled with a first-place 7.92 time.

The KHS 4x200m relay foursome was first overall with a time of 1:51.77, beating DeKalb by .30 seconds, while Zick made her presence felt in the 400m dash by taking second at 1:00.08, and first in the 200m dash at 26.62, while Castellanos took fourth in the same event at 28.01.

Kaneland’s day ended with a 4:15.95 first-place time.

“We were very happy with the 4×200 and 4×400 relay to win those races with very good times without Zick running on either one. (Brianna) Bower ran an excellent 3200 in 11:35, with only Amy Eddington, the 1987 State champion at that event, having run faster for Kaneland. Lauren Zick and Ashley Castellanos had excellent days placing in four events,” Ecker said.

KHS girls take to the outdoor track at Burlington Central, meeting the host Lady Rockets and Oregon Hawks on Tuesday, April 2, at 4:30 p.m.

Back On ‘TRACK’ | 2013 Spring Sports Preview

Photo: Ashley Castellanos (right) put in good work last year at the Jill Holmes Invitational, including winning this 100 meter dash. File Photo

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—For Kaneland girls track, each season is a like a new generation. As athletes advance through their careers, they gain experience and attain success, and then pass down what they’ve learned to the younger athletes just starting on their own paths.

“The girls have always had a good work ethic, for the 28 years I have been here, and that is due to younger girls learning from the older ones by their actions and approach to practice and meets,” long-time KHS head coach Doug Ecker said.

There are many lessons to be learned from the successes of last year. Kaneland will see one state finalist return to the fold, as well as five other state qualifiers. Add to that an individual Northern Illinois Big XII Conference Champ, and Ecker has plenty of reasons to feel good about this year’s prospects.

Returning from a trip downstate to close out last season are Sydney Strang, an 800 meter State Finalist, distance runner Maggie Brundige, sprinter Kaltrina Ismaili, distance runner Jessica Kucera, distance/hurdler Amanda Lesak, and jumper/sprinter Lauren Zick. In addition, NIB-12 shot put champ Elle Tattoni returns as well, to help form a solid core of team leadership. Even beyond those who advanced in the postseason last year, Ecker said there are already plenty of examples of upper classmen helping the younger members of the team.

“We are proud of all the girls. We have seen leadership from Zick, Ismaili, Ashley Castellanos and the senior distance runners,” Ecker said.

New additions to the varsity mix could be in line for big things in 2013, with the onset of freshmen sprinters Olivia Galor and Allie Heinzer.

“(Galor and Heinzler) give us good depth in the sprint and sprint relays, something we have not had in a long time,” Ecker said.

Shoring up the middle distance and distance ranks, according to Ecker, are cross country strengths Brianna Bower, a freshman, and sophomore Victoria Clinton.

The Lady Knights will do their best to hang with the conference rivals, and looks to be in good standing to to so.

“It is early, but the conference seems to be balanced this year. Yorkville has their distance crew and an All-State transfer in the jumps and sprints. DeKalb will be strong, and Sycamore is improved. Geneseo is always strong in track and will be this year, as well,” Ecker said.

Kaneland takes to the outdoor meets in 2013 on Tuesday, April 2, in Burlington, along with fellow visitor Oregon. The noted Jill Holmes Invite occurs on Saturday, April 6.

KHS Girls Track Roster

Carly Bartholomew 9
Brianna Booton 9
Brianna Bower 9
Maggie Brundige 12
Angelia Carbonara 12
Erika Carlson 11
Ashley Castellanos 12
Victoria Clinton 10
Christina Delach 11
Laken Delahanty 12
Abby Dodis 12
Noelle Espino 9
Olivia Galor 9
Ashley Garcia 9
Murphy Garcia 10
Kayla Girolamo 9
Kyla Goodine 11
Samantha Havlin 10
Jordan Hedgren 9
Allie Heinzer 9
Kaltrina Ismaili 10
Brittany Kemp 11
Lilah Klingensmith 9
Sarah Kolzow 9
Jessica Kucera 10
Amanda Lesak 12
Aislinn Lodwig 10
Sydney Luse 12
Hallie Miles 9
Madeline Mohatt 9
Alexia Orosco 10
Nicole Partipilo 10
Lauren Pence 10
Anna Piazza 11
Natasha Ring 12
Kaprice Sanchez 11
Sophia Sandquist 9
Julia Schaefer 9
Sam Sommerville 9
Rachel Steinmiller 11
Sydney Strang 11
Elle Tattoni 10
Amy Vanderschaaf 9
Lauren Zick 11

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.

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.

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

Lady Knights track to make most out of depth

Photo: Lauren Zick looks to make her sophomore season more amazing than her freshman campaign in the 400m run. File Photo

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Numbers are down, and the roster no longer includes assets like Andie Strang, Kris Bowen and Brooke Patterson.

But third-year Lady Knights girls track head coach Doug Ecker is eager and optimistic about what returns.

“We lost good kids, but we picked up some,” Ecker said. “Our numbers are down overall. We have some crossover from a successful cross-country season. So far, so good. We have some kids hurt, but we’ll make the most out of our depth.”

A fifth-place finish at the Kane County Invite and four events with a State seal of approval meant a big finish to 2011.

Still around from the Charleston group are sophomore Sydney Strang, who was in the 4x800m relay, and sophomore Lauren Zick, who finished ninth in the 400m dash.

“Zick is a great athlete and can run anything from a 55 to an 800, with her best race probably the 400, and has improved in the long jump. Sydney did well in the distance events and is getting faster and stronger,” Ecker said.

The indoor track season provided a nice barometer, but slots still need to be figured out.

“It is different, with no discus and no low hurdles, but things still need to get hashed out,” Ecker said.

Going the distance for KHS this season will be personnel like Strang, who has had a nice start in the mile event, as will Amanda Lesak, in events like the 4x800m.

Lesak will also be counted on in the hurdle events, as well.

“She’s someone that we hope will do well in the hurdles and middle distance races,” Ecker said.

Nicole Ketza, Brittany Kemp and freshman Elle Tattoni are getting looks in the field events, with Ketza and Kemp having hours chalked up in the shot put and discus.

“Kemp is someone that did the shot for us as a freshman, and Marina Schaefer is someone we are looking at for big things in the discus once she bounced back from injuries,” Ecker said.

Sydney Luse returns for her junior year, having placed in the hurdles and pole vault.

“We have good kids in these events, but we’d like to shore up our depth because you have to score in a lot of events,” Ecker said.

For sprints, returnee Ashley Castellanos will see time after excelling in the triple jump last year.

“DeKalb and Sycamore have some of the fastest girls in the state, but Ashley is right up there, as well, and will help us,” Ecker said.

A place is being looked at for senior Kelly Evers, who is coming off of injuries the past track season after going to Charleston three years ago in the 4×800 relay.

Other veterans who carry over from last year’s track group and cross-country are juniors like Gabby Aguirre, Maggie Brundige and Abby Dodis.

“Maggie has been injured in the past, but I think she’s gotten past that now and she’s done well for us so far,” Ecker said. “Abby has already run 12-flat for the 2-mile. They would be stars in any other conference, but our conference is so top-heavy with distance runners, it’s unbelievable.”

Kaneland hopes for a strong body of work this season, and a productive homestretch.

“Conference is important. Geneseo, DeKalb are up there and Dixon is getting stronger, not to discount anyone else. We don’t quite have the depth they do, but we’ll be right there with them.

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.

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

Girls XC looks to better health for success

Photo: Abby Dodis looks to provide a spark with her talent for Kaneland girls cross-country. File Photo

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It’s been ideal running weather in mid-August.

Good enough for KHS coach Doug Ecker and the Lady Knights cross-country team to take advantage of.

“So far we’ve been pretty healthy,” Ecker said. “They’ve worked real hard and done a lot of strengthening. Hopefully we’ll stay away from the injuries and sickness that has plagued some of these girls the last three years.”

With the exception of junior all-conference selection Ashley Castellanos’ stress fracture and junior Abby Dodis’ hip injury, the squad can make up for key departures.

“Abby is looking good so far, and Ashley is a competitor. When the time comes, they’ll be ready to race,” Ecker said.

Former State-qualifier Andie Strang and Kris Bowen depart for the university settings, and last-year’s 51st-best runner in Class 2A, Jen Howland, graduated early.

“Three of our top six runners were out at the end of the year, and we still managed to finish fourth in conference and sixth in Sectionals. When they’re healthy, they’re a pretty formidable group,” Ecker said.

Key returnees include Sydney Strang, a sophomore, who is hot off a productive track campaign in the spring, and recovered from injuries.

The Lady Knights will also be looking toward Maggie Brundige for exceptional times, as well.

Ecker also noted select freshmen who have looked like Lady Knight contributors.

“Victoria Clinton and Aislinn Ludwig have worked hard and are looking good right now,” Ecker said.

Clinton comes off of an exceptional middle school career and also the triathlon circuit.

The lone senior on the squad is returnee Carolina Tovar.

“Even though it seems like we lost a lot, we’ll be fine as far as experience goes,” Ecker said.

The 2011 campaign kicks off on Tuesday, Aug. 30, against West Chicago and Wheaton Academy at Elburn Woods, while the first Northern Illinois Big XII taste happens a week later against the Yorkville Lady Foxes and East Aurora.

“Yorkville is the cream of the crop, Dixon is very talented and Geneseo is very good—all very good programs, and I think without the health issues we’ve faced we’ll do well,” Ecker said.

Board recognizes staff with 25 year of district service

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday recognized and provided a gift to Kaneland High School teachers Doug Ecker and Kurt Green, and Blackberry Creek teacher Lynda McGowen, for their 25 years of service in the school district.

According to a memo from Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler, the district thanked Ecker, Green and McGowen for their dedication and the many lives they have touched in 25 years of teaching.

Four-midable outing for Lady Knights track at Sectional

Photo: Brooke Patterson manages to clear the bar during Thursday’s Class 2A Track Sectional in Ottawa, Ill. Patterson helped the Lady Knights qualify for State in four events for this weekend at Eastern Illinois University. Photo by Ben Draper

by Mike Slodki
OTTAWA—KHS girls track followers will have four reasons to visit Charleston, Ill., this May.

With an eighth-place showing at this past Thursday’s Class 2A Sectional at Ottawa Townahip High School, Kaneland girls track saw a State Qualifiying effort in four separate events on Thursday, and will be sending six girls to the IHSA State Final on the campus of Eastern Illinois University.

Senior Brooke Patterson qualified in the pole vault with a third-place finish.

“Brooke has gotten better technique-wise at the pole vault,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “She’s been a lot more consistent.”

The 4×800 meter relay unit of senior Kris Bowen, senior Andie Strang, freshman Sydney Strang and Zick finished fourth, good enough for State qualification.

Meanwhile, the elder Strang returns to the State gathering once again after a fourth-place nod in the 1600m run.

Freshman Lauren Zick qualified in the 400 meter dash with a third-place finish.

In the finals, Zick finished in 59.96 seconds, one of four girls to qualify for State.

“I’m excited that it’s going to be tough competition,” Zick said. “I know it’s going to be really hard to do well. If I’m going to do well, I’ll know I’ll have to work really hard at these practices this week.”

Sycamore’s Lake Kwaza won the event at 57.87 seconds, while Ottawa’s Alex Ortiz finished second in 58.62.

Strang’s 5:21.33 time in the 1600m run made her fourth out of seven qualifiers, with Yorkville junior Ali Hester’s 5:13.97 taking the cake.

Patterson continues the long line of noteworthy KHS pole vaulters that includes Sara Wallace, Jordan Pinkston and Michelle Hannemann, among others, after being one of six qualifiers.

The senior vaulted 10 feet, six inches.

“This year I have more experience and I’m not as nervous. My goal is to get top-five,” Patterson said.

Rochelle’s Taylor Jenkins vaulted 11 feet.

Finally, in the lone relay qualifier, Kaneland’s gang of four ran the track in 9:51.49, just .22 seconds behind third-place Yorkville. Seven qualifers in the event are headed to Charleston.

“There was a lot more knowledge and experience going into the meet,” Bowen said. “I knew what to expect. Last year, we were disappointed in not making finals. This year, we wanted to get back there and improve.”

The younger Strang is ready to contribute on the State scale.

“The other girls really helped me a lot and led by example,” Strang said. “I think I’m the same runner as before, just improved a little health-wise.”

Teamwise, Rochelle was tops with 69.5 points, followed by Burlington Central’s 65 points. Sycamore finished third with 59, as did Marengo, and Hampshire rounded out the top five with 58. Yorkville (50) and Sterling (46) edged Kaneland.

One year ago, Kaneland qualified for State in the long jump, pole vault, triple jump, 4x800m relay and 800m run.

Kaneland girls track takes the fifth at annual Kane County Meet

Photo: Kaneland’s freshman phenom Lauren Zick has applied her craft to almost everything that Kaneland girls track has to offer, including long jump. Photo by Mike Slodki

KANELAND—At Millenium Field in Streamwood, Ill., the Lady Knights used key outings from some familiar names to reach a fifth-place plateau with 50 points.

West Aurora was a runaway winner with 136 points, followed by former Kaneland conference-mate Geneva at 72 points.

St. Charles East had 59 points followed by Burlington Central with 51.5 points in fourth place. Rosary gathered the same amount of points at KHS for fifth, as well.

Hampshire, St. Charles North, Batavia, East Aurora and Dundee-Crown rounded out the 11 teams.

“We could have gotten third if we were healthy, but overall I think we’ve done well at every meet,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “All the kids have run well and we’re pretty happy with that, and we’ve moved some things around.”

Noteworthy finishes for the Lady Knights crew included the 4x800m relay team finishing second with a time of 9 minutes, 44.69 seconds.

Freshman phenom Lauren Zick took second in the 400m dash with a time of 59.78 seconds, .96 seconds behind Geneva’s Taylor Wickware.

On the other end of the high school spectrum, Andie Strang took third in her final Kane County Meet 1600m run with an effort of 5:21.24.

Field events for Kaneland saw Gabby Aguirre take fourth in the high jump with a mark of five feet.

In the long jump, fellow sophomore Ashley Castellanos took fourth with a jump of 15-11.

Brooke Patterson’s 35-04.25 triple jump was a quarter-inch better than West Aurora’s Jasmine Ranson and enough to garner the Kane County Meet triple jump championship.

Patterson capped her evening off with a fourth place effort in the pole vault, hitting the 10-foot mark.

“I really want to improve on pole vault,” Patterson said. “I’ve gotten better throughout the season, but I really want to get to 11-06.”

The regular season homestretch for the Lady Knights continues with the first-ever NIB-12 Meet, hosted by Kaneland High School on Friday, May 6, at 4 p.m.

Ecker’s crew has young, old as formula for success

Photo: Andie Strang has established herself as a threat at any distance and looks to finish her Kaneland tenure with a flourish. Photo by Linda Bell

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Here comes Lady Knights track.

If the early practice sessions and indoor season were any indicator, many a girl in KHS garb will be finishing quite well in 2011 races.

Second-year head coach Doug Ecker is eager to see what the large roster can do, with a mostly healthy lineup.

“The indoor season was encouraging,” Ecker said. “The most encouraging thing is all the distance runners are healthy and we’ve been consistent,” Ecker said. “When we get outside, we’ll have to have a little more depth.”

So far, the three big names to pop up are senior Andie Strang in the distance and relay events, senior Brooke Patterson in pole vault and triple jump and freshman Lauren Zick in sprints and long jump.

“We knew Lauren was fast, she has the temperament and she’ll do what the coaches ask her to do. She listens well,” Ecker said.

Sophomore and state qualifier Ashley Castellanos has excelled in the jumps, as well.

Gabby Aguirre returns and looks to make a mark in the jumps.

With a Division II career ahead of her, Strang is ready to go for the distance events, but Ecker believes a challenge lays ahead.

“This conference is going to be brutal for distance. She can run extremely well one meet and get fifth in the mile. You have so many good distance runners,” Ecker said.

Sydney Strang and Kris Bowen also look to add to the distance ranks for Kaneland.

For relays, the 4x800m team could be in store for big finishes. The Strang sisters, Bowen and Castellanos, will all see time in that event along with Jessica Stouffer. The 4x200m has Sydney Bilotta and Ariana Espino ready to go with Patterson.

Kaneland looks to continue the pole vault excellence.

“Brooke is very good and works very hard, and Sydney Luse has worked very hard, and Shannon Wallace will give us some depth, too,” Ecker said.

Junior Nicole Ketza looks to rise in the weight events after a good late-season run.

Kaneland is still looking for young hurdlers to take the reins in that event.

The stronger each event is, the better for the Lady Knights in the new Northern Illinois Big XII scheme.

“Our conference is maybe one of the better conferences in the state. You throw in every event, we are really solid,” Ecker said.