Tag Archives: Eric Baron

KHS adds to luck in Quad Cities

Boys track hits the usual outdoor opener in East Moline, Ill.
KANELAND—It doesn’t seem as if the learning curve for the Knights boys track roster will be that steep, if the East Moline United High School Boys Kiwanis Invitational held at the East Moline Soule Bowl is any indication.

KHS, with a total of 113 points, was a runaway winner in group “A” over the likes of Rock Island (94.5), Pleasant Valley (80.5) and T.F. North (79).

Galesburg (78.5), the hosts (78) and Sterling (67.5) were fifth through seventh, respectively, while Geneseo (60), Rock Island Alleman (44) and Sherrard (39) rounded out the top 10. Moline (26) and Freeport (8) completed the “A’ 12.

Kaneland’s 58-point total was good for fourth in the “B” group, while it gathered 31 points in the “C” group.

The meet could have gone even better by Kaneland’s perspective, according to head coach Eric Baron.

“The meet went well for the most part, but it was a meet we could have won if everyone was healthy and in the lineup,” Baron said. “I was really pleased with how several of our younger athletes stepped in and did great jobs for us, but in general it wasn’t what we had hoped for.”

The “A” accolades came often for the Knight group, beginning with Brandon Bishop blazing a 11.99 second trail for fifth place in the 100-meter dash. Teammate Isaac Swithers took fourth in the 200m dash at 24.61. Nathaniel Kucera managed a first-place in the 800m run by navigating a 1:56.94. Kyle Carter continued the distance success with a time of 4:31.60 in the 1,600m run, for second place. Ryan Bower took fifth for Kaneland with a 10:22.64 in the 3,200m run. Brock Robertson took third in the 110m hurdles with a time of 15.95, and added to his Saturday by nabbing second in the 300m hurdles with a 41.57.

Relay action in “A’ had KHS taking fifth with a time of 44.28, thanks to the efforts of Robertson, Ben Barnes, Bishop and Swithers. The 4x200m relay foursome of John Delach, Bishop, Brandon Cruz and Swithers took fifth at 1:34.33. The 4x400m relay foursome of Robertson, Bishop, Carter and Kucera took the race with a time of 3:27.41.

The field events in “A” saw highlights like Dylan Kuipers’ meet-winning pole vault effort at 14 feet and Barnes’ 20’ 11.25” first place in the long jump. Nate Dyer took the shot put with a 52’ 1” and finished second in the discus at 153’ 7”.

“B” highlights for the Knights group came courtesy of personnel like Luis Acosta’s 4:41.47 first place in the 1,600m run and Tanner Robertson’s 42.82 first in the 300m hurdles. Kaneland’s 4x400m relay foursome also won at 3:40.01. The “B” field saw a 12’ pole vault by Dan Evers for first place.

In the “C” landscape, the 100m dash saw a second by Cruz with a time of 11.74 and a 4:45.94 by Ryan Bower for second in the 1,600m run.

In the field landscape, the Knights’ Mitch Groen took first in the vault with a 12’ effort. Thrower Alex Snyder managed a first-place 44’ heave in the shot put, while Shane Jorgensen took second in the discus with a 127’1”.

A meet with DeKalb and Sycamore in Maple Park set for Tuesday was rescheduled for Thursday.

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Downright dominant

Photo: Senior Dalvell Triplett placed third in the Long Jump and first in the Triple Jump for the Knights as they rolled to a conference victory Saturday in Sterling, Ill. Photo by Marshall Farthing

Kaneland boys track talent on NIB-12 indoor display
KANELAND—When a boys track outfit like Kaneland gets used to a certain level of output, it’s not a bad thing, especially where Saturday’s Northern Illinois Big XII indoor conference meet is concerned.

Much like last year, the Kaneland boys took it to the rest of the rival conference field at the Westwood Sports Center.

With 130 team points, the Knights ran away with the meet, as 130 team points came their way. The total eclipses the 107 output from a year ago.

Dixon, Sycamore, Geneseo and DeKalb rounded out the top five, with 68, 59, 58 and 51, respectively. Yorkville (41), LaSalle-Peru (27), Sterling (24) and Rochelle (9) rounded out the scoring portion of the team sweepstakes.

Brandon Bishop got things started for the Knight side, with a fourth-place finish overall in the 60m Dash, on account of a 7.35-second effort.

Kyle Carter bested the competition in the 400m dash with a time of 52.09.

The 800m run field saw a double shot of Kaneland accomplishments, with Nathaniel Kucera taking a first (2:01.42) and teammate Austin Kintz working his way toward a fourth, thanks to a 2:08.87.

KHS leapt over obstacles in the 60m hurdles event, as seniors Dylan Nauert (8.68) and Brock Robertson (8.79) finished second and third, respectively.

In the 4x200m relay, it was the Knights taking the mantle with a time of 1:35.35, and the 4x400m did more of the same, with a first-place nod of 3:33.16. The 4x800m relay followed suit at 8:07.72 for first, a whopping 11.77 seconds faster than Dixon.

On the indoor field side of things, KHS acclimated well in the pole vault area. Senior duo Dylan Kuipers (13-9) and Dan Evers (13-3) swept the top two spots.

The Long Jump had Knight Ben Barnes grab first with a 21-1.25, and teammate Dalvell Triplett take third at 20-10. The Triple Jump saw Triplett and Barnes reverse the Knight order, with Triplett’s first (43-11.5) and Barnes’ fourth (40-2).

The indoor aspect of the Kaneland track attack yielded some pleasant surprises as the team gears up for the outdoor season, whenever the elements subside.

“(There were) lots of surprises,” KHS coach Eric Baron said. “Biggest was Danny Evers going 13-3 and just missing 13-9, and Dalvell Triplett in both jumps, but his Triple Jump of 43-11 was a personal best.”

Finally, Nate Dyer took care of the Shot Put conference threat with a first-place effort of 55-5.

Kaneland’s next challenge is the well-regarded Illinois Top Times meet hosted by Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Ill., on Saturday, March 29.

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2014 Boys Track & Field Preview: Sprint toward success

Photo: Relay, distance and sprint runners resort to running laps through school halls due to poor weather so far this season. Photo by Patti Wilk

Sixth-place finishers from a year ago, Knight boys track takes charge
KANELAND—It looks to be more of the same for Kaneland High School boys track in 2014.
That’s the last thing area rivals need or want.

Despite the loss of state qualifying anchors like Brandon Cottier, Conor Johnson, Marshall Farthing and Tanner Andrews, ninth-year coach Eric Baron and company have their sights trained on exemplary, yet attainable, goals in 2014.

The Knights crew took the Northern Illinois Big XII by storm, taking both indoor and outdoor conference titles on their way to a sixth-place State finish for Class 2A.

“We should contend for the championship of every invite we compete in,” Baron said.

Among the important cogs returning for the Kaneland victory machine are Kyle Carter, future Southern Illinois Saluki, and Nathaniel Kucera, future Stanford Cardinal. Carter and Kucera, along with graduate Johnson and Luis Acosta, won the 4x800m relay event at State a year ago with a 7:50.26 time. Kucera also managed ninth in the 400m dash at 50.76 on the Eastern Illinois University track. Carter, Kucera and Acosta shore up the middle distance area, while ninth-place shot put State-goer Nate Dyer returns in the field category with outstanding prospects, and is joined in the throws by Shane Jorgensen.

Other returning field personnel primed for a big year include Ben Barnes for jumps, and Dylan Kuipers (11th in State) and Dan Evers in the pole vault.

Hurdles features State warrior Dylan Nauert, along with Brock Robertson. Brandon Bishop (returning medalist) and Isaac Swithers take care of the sprint category. Ryan Bower returns to take care of the distance matters, as well.

Newcomers to the varsity ranks expecting to contribute are sprinter Brandon Cruz, mid-distance athletes Austin Kintz, Drew Franklin, Sean Spaetzel and Andrew Franklin.

The mix between upper-and-lower classmen usually provides positive output on the track, the earlier the better.

“Getting individuals off to a good start is important. Our older athletes help make sure they understand training is structured to make our athletes peak in May,” Baron said.

With talent coalescing around experienced coaching and a tradition that speaks for itself, the Knights look to ward off challenges throughout the season, including the Kane County Meet on May 9 at Millennium Field in Streamwood, Ill., and the NIB-12 meet in Maple Park.

Baron knows if the conference meet is a reflection of the talent, KHS will be right up there.

“It will be an outstanding meet with a high level of competition. Expect teams from Yorkville, Dixon, DeKalb, Sycamore, Sterling, Geneseo and Ottawa to contend with us for the title,” Baron said.

KHS gets set for the first outdoor challenge of the year hosted by East Moline United on Saturday, April 12, with conference action beginning on Tuesday, April 15, against Sycamore.

The Peterson Prep, hosted by the Knights, is on Saturday, April 26.

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Knights 3rd at Batavia

Photo: Senior Dalvell Triplett was second in the Long Jump and third in the Triple Jump at Batavia Friday. Photo by Patti Wilk

BATAVIA—Coach Eric Baron’s crew went just east to find some stout competition.

But the Knights held their own against 3A powerhouse Lake Park’s 128 points and Batavia’s 108 with 83 of their own at the Coach DiDomenico Indoor Invitational in Batavia. Burlington Central was fourth with 64 points, while West Aurora (42) and Bartlett (3) rounded out the field.

Dylan Kuipers achieved the lone Knight individual win with a 14-foot pole vault, while the 4x400m Relay team of Brock Robertson, Dylan Nauert, Kyle Carter and Nathaniel Kucera won with a time of 3 minutes, 31.72 seconds.

In the shot put, Nate Dyer was second with a 53’4” effort, while Shane Jorgensen was fifth with a 48’ 6.5” throw.

Dalvell Triplett placed second in the long jump with a jump of 21’ 8.5” and followed that up with a 42’ 3.25” triple jump, which was good for third.

Dan Evers also contributed field event points with his 12’ leap in the pole vault, which was good for fourth place.

Kaneland faired well in the other relays, with the 4x200m comprised of Brandon Bishop, Brock Robertson, Dylan Nauert and Issac Swithers placed third with a 1:36.24, while the 4x800m of Andrew Lesak, Luis Acosta, Austin Kintz and Sean Spatzel was fourth in 8:46.34.

In the 55m Hurdles, Nauert was second in 8.15 seconds, while Roberson was sixt in 8.35.

In the sprints, Spaetzel ran a 55.76 in the 400m Dash, placing fifth.

In the distance events, Nathanial Kucera ran a 2:00.86 to place second in the 800m, while Kyle Carter was third in the 1600m with a 4:37.83.

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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.”

East Moline momentum

First-ever win at traditional outdoor opener for boys track
By Mike Slodki
Kaneland—For the talent pool near the Quad Cities, to take the unofficial opener of the 2013 outdoor season is a big deal for the Knights track roster.

The 12-team gathering saw Kaneland score 260 team points on Saturday in the UTHS Boys Kiwanis Invitational, hosted by East Moline United.

The hosts were second overall with a total of 220.5, and Northern Illinois Big XII crossover foe Geneseo was third overall with 204 points.

Rock Island (184), Iowa’s Pleasant Valley (169) and T.F. South (135) rounded out the top half of the standings. Sterling, with 88 points, took ninth.

The meet was structured in flights of “A,” “B” and “C,” and had Kaneland running to daylight in plenty of events.

John Meisinger’s 3200 meter run “B” resulted in a second-place effort (10:41.54), while the “B” 4x800m relay team for Kaneland took second with a time of 8:59.28.

Kaneland’s 4x100m “B” team won the event with a time of 45.83 seconds, while the “A” foursome of Brandon Bishop, Brandon Cottier, Dylan Nauert and Ben Barnes won its challenge with a time of 43.85.

Nauert struck again in the “A” 110m hurdles event that saw him nab second with a time of 16:07, while Stephen McCracken of Kaneland managed a second in the “C” running of the 800m run (2:09.41).

In the 800m run “A” battle, reliable Knight Conor Johnson won the event with a time of 2:02.58, while the 4x200m relay “B” crew took first with a time of 1:38.83.

Kaneland’s 4x200m relay group of Bishop, Barnes, Dylan Pennington and Cottier took second in the “A” group with a time of 1:32.67.

Knight speedster Kyle Carter worked through the 400m dash “B” flight for a win in 51.28, while “A” counterpart Nathaniel Kucera won his race with a time of 51.05.

Kaneland made more of a hurdle presence in the 300m hurdles “B,” thanks to Brock Robertson’s second at 42.71 and Nauert’s “A” first-place at 40.68.

The field events saw a nice dose of Kaneland power, especially in the shot put, with “B” champ Shane Jorgensen’s 47 feet, 7.5 inches, and “A” king Nate Dyer’s 52-04.

The pole vault saw “C” glory thanks to JR Vest’s first (12-06), Kory Harner’s second in “B” (11-06) and Dylan Kuipers’ “A” reign (13 feet).

Considering the opposing talent level and the mix of experienced and new, KHS coach Eric Baron feels it was a job well done out west.

“They did fine, they had lots of excitement about this first meet,” Baron said. “They really performed well. It was the first time we won this meet and that is saying a lot considering the legendary track programs we competed against.”

Kaneland also had a dual meet at Sycamore on Tuesday and dominated Sycamore and Hiawatha. Kaneland tallied 111 points, well out in front of Sycamore’s 34 and Hiawatha’s 1.

The Knight crew heads to the Ottawa Invitational set for Saturday, April 13.

Boys track shows good timing

Illinois Prep Top Times sees KHS 10th overall
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—There’s something to be said for making the best of your surroundings.

With weather being less than cooperative and the boys track team getting antsy, the Knights ventured to the Illinois Top Times Indoor Track Championship, housed by Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Ill.

The final send-off before the outdoor campaign begins in earnest had the Kaneland outfit take 10th overall with a total of 15 team points and tied with Lakes High School of Lake Villa, Ill.

It was downstate Cahokia with a runaway 95 points, followed by Bloomington’s 54 and Chicago’s North Lawndale Charter’s 33 that rounded out the top three.

Fellow Northern Illinois Big XII school Sycamore finished in a three-way logjam for seventh with 16 points.

The KHS 4×400 meter relay foursome finished in second place with a time of three minutes, 29.75 seconds, 2.59 second behind Cahokia, and the 4x800m relay team took fourth overall at 8:18.72.

In the high jump, Kaneland’s Marshall Farthing tied for ninth with a six-foot effort.

Capping off the noteworthy totals for the Knights’ unit was Nate Dyer, who finished seventh overall with a shot put try of 51-07.

KHS coach Eric Baron is now quickly putting the excursion to Bloomington in the rearview mirror in order to concentrate on the outdoor destinations.

“Our performances were OK,” Baron said. “Dyer stood out with a new personal best, (and) Kyle Carter ran two nice legs in both relays for us.”

Kaneland’s outdoor journey begins at the East Moline United Invitational on Saturday, April 6.

Sterling is gold for KHS boys

Knights rule NIB-12 indoor track at Sterling
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—The Kaneland’s boys track squad amassed 107 points by the end of Saturday’s Northern Illinois Big XII Indoor conference meet housed by Sterling High School’s Westwood track.

The remaining field would have to be competing a fairly long time to match that total.

Geneseo’s 67, DeKalb’s 62 and Yorkville’s 55 rounded out the top four. Sycamore (52), Dixon (44), LaSalle-Peru (23), Ottawa (22), Sterling (17) and Rochelle (16).

The field event accolades began with senior stalwart Marshall Farthing, who took third at six feet, three inches. Teammate Dylan Kuipers’ 12-09 effort in the pole vault was good for third.

The long jump was accented by KHS duo Tanner Andrews in third at 20-07, and Ben Barnes in fourth at 20-05.5.

The triple jump featured Knight Andrews in second at 41-02.25 and teammate Dalvell Triplett in fourth at 40-08.25.

Junior Nate Dyer’s 49-06 in the shot put was good for second place to round out the field festivities.

Kaneland’s winning edge increased thanks to personnel like Brandon Bishop, who’s second-place time in the 60 meter dash came as a result of of a 7.15 second time.

Knight Dylan Nauert’s 8.78 in his 60m hurdles event took first, while the Kaneland 4x200m relay effort of 1:37.25 was third overall.

The 800m run had two noteworthy finishes thanks to Kyle Carter’s second (2:03.65) and Luis Acosta’s fourth (2:06.53).

Nathaniel Kucera of Kaneland conquered the 400m dash field at 52.99.

Topping the afternoon was the KHS 4x400m relay squad’s first place time of 3:33.80.

“We scored well and placed in many events but didn’t get very many personal best,” KHS coach Eric Baron said. “We are struggling with the weather this spring, and our lack of adequate indoor facilities is starting to show in our performances. We are getting many injuries due to the training surfaces we have to use in the hallways and gym floors, as opposed to rubberized field house tracks. I am hoping that weather breaks soon.”

The outdoor campaign’s is scheduled to begin on Saturday, April 6, at the East Moline United Invite.

Immense size, talent | 2013 Spring Sports Preview

Photo: Kaneland’s Nate Dyer throws the discus a conference-best 148 feet, 9 inches, at the NIB-12 Conference track meet last season at DeKalb High School. File Photo

Largest team in school history gears up for ’13
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Kaneland High School boys track head coach Eric Baron has more reasons than ever before to feel good about his team’s prospects for the coming season.

Despite the loss of key personnel like Sean Carter, Clayton Brundige and Nate Rehkopf, the Knights return by and large an immensely talented group with State experience.

That gets Baron eager to get things going, despite the snow-covered outdoors.

“For the indoor meets, we’ve been running mostly freshmen and sophomores, and the group of freshmen that we have just amaze me,” Baron said. “They are just so talented. I have a great group of juniors and seniors, but I have a group of freshmen that might be more talented than they were. The phrase is ‘reloading,’ but I don’t think we’re reloading anymore.”

Kaneland finished second in the Northern Illinois Big XII swing of things a year ago, and took its fourth straight sectional crown before sending 11 athletes to the big dance in Charleston, Ill. Five finalists achieved All-State honors and will serve an important role in 2013.

Members of the all-State 4×200 relay squad of senior Dylan Pennington, junior Brandon Bishop and senior Brandon Cottier provide a boost, with junior Dylan Nauert taking on relay duties and hurdle responsibilities.

“Cottier and the other sprinters have gotten the job done and have State medals. Bishop has come out of the gate, as well. Dylan and those two have the relays looking very solid,” Baron said.

Distance qualifiers from a year ago include senior Conor Johnson, junior Nathaniel Kucera and junior Kyle Carter, who set a school record in State prelims.

Kory Harner returns in the vault category after qualifying the last two years.

Nate Dyer returns with national experience, besides a Charleston trip, while Cottier also lent speed to the sprint categories.

“Last year, all three relays medaled, Dylan Nauert medaled, Nate Dyer didn’t, but he was a sophomore and what he’s been doing is unheard of, so I don’t worry about him,” Baron said.

Distance personnel also used to State competition include Luis Acosta in the junior class.

Ben Barnes and Isaac Swithers could see major event time on the sophomore level, while Baron pointed out Brandon Cruz as someone who could make an impact on the freshman class.

Field events look to be a certain strength in 2013.

“We have a very talented group of throwers, and more than we’ve ever had. I think that’s going to continue. Dyer is the workhorse of the group in the shot and disc, and could be knocking on the door of school records when it’s all said and done,” Baron said.

Baron also mentioned junior Shane Jorgensen as having stepped up big a year ago.

“We tied for first at Kane County because Shane had a huge night,” Baron said. “Jaumareo Phillips has had a huge offseason and has been throwing consistently, and Alex Snyder has been throwing well.”

Senior Marshall Farthing returns in the high jump and triple jump, while senior Tanner Andrews lends his jumping expertise to the Knight contingent, with junior Dalvell Triplett triple jumping in 2013, as well.

Kaneland plans on using its massive roster to its advantage.

“This gives us a lot of flexibility. If we have an injury, we’re not going to miss a bit. Injuries can be very devastating to a team, and I don’t see that being an issue. We’re just so deep,” Baron said.

The first outdoor meet for KHS is the East Moline U-High ABC meet scheduled for Saturday, April 6, while the Peterson Prep is housed by Kaneland on Saturday, April 20. The Kane County Meet is set for Friday, May 3, at Burlington Central, and the Northern Illinois Big XII meet is the following Friday at Dixon High School.

KHS Boys Track Roster

Luis Acosta 11
Brian Anderson 9
Tanner Andrews 12
BenBarnes 10
Alex Baumgartner 12
Brandon Bishop 11
Ryan Bower 11
Sam Bower 11
Kyle Carter 11
Julian Cook 9
Brandon Cottier 12
Brandon Cruz 9
Phil Cutsinger 11
John Delach 9
Andy Delgado 9
Mark Dhom 9
Nate Dyer 11
Dan Evers 11
Marshall Farthing 12
Drew Franklin 9
Alex Gil 12
Mike Gorenz 11
Mitchell Groen 9
Kory Harner 12
Cole Hookham 9
Brandon Huber 12
Conor Johnson 12
Shane Jorgensen 11
Brian Kemp 9
Brad Kigyos 12
Brandon Kigyos 10
Austin Kintz 9
Gary Koehring 11
Nathaniel Kucera 11
Will Kuipers 9
Dylan Kuipers 11
Joe Kuipers 12
Tyler Kurzrock 9
Andrew Lesak 10
Matt Lyons 10
Jay Markuson 12
Jared Matthys 9
Stephen McCracken 12
John Meisenger 12
Nick Messina 12
Brayden Miller 12
Dylan Nauret 11
Mitchell Nelson 10
Kyle Osborne 9
Brandon Park 10
Freddy Paulina 9
Ryan Paulson 12
Connor Pennington 10
Dylan Pennington 12
Connor Peterson 9
Jaumaureo Phillips 11
Triston Powell 9
Giovanni Regalado 9
Mitchell Reger 10
Mike Rinella 9
Tanner Robertson 9
Brock Robertson 11
Jacob Robitske 10
Jakob Rodriguez 9
Matt Rodway 12
Zach Selmer 12
Tyler Slamans 11
Haven Smith 10
Alex Snyder 11
Sean Spaetzel 9
Felipe Speraggi 9
Gus Stott 12
Logan Strang 9
Isaac Swithers 10
Zach Thielk 10
Jackson Thomas 11
Dalvell Triplett 11
JR Vest 11
James Walker 10
Ryan Weber 9
Seth Weiss 12
Spencer White 9
Chris Wido 12
Zack Wielgos 11
Sam Wolf 9
Nicholas Wolski 9
Nathaniel Zitko 11

Kaneland’s 11: Boys track performs at high level

Two Kaneland HS relay teams earned all-state honors last weekend.
Photos by Marshall Farthing

Knights’ 2A trip to
EIU sees five All-State
efforts, three records

by Mike Slodki
CHARLESTON, Ill.—When you send as many Class 2A State finalists for boys track as Kaneland High School did, you’ll push some entries to the finals by sheer force and numbers.

Or in the case of this past weekend, by speed.

With five finalists, the Knights program achieved All-State medal honors in those events.

A year ago, Taylor Andrews won the 110m high hurdles in Class 2A, while Nick Sinon claimed the high jump in the 2010 try that featured the Knights taking second in the entire state.

This season, with 19 points, Kaneland finished an exceptional 11th.

Cahokia High School was crowned champ with 67 points, while former KHS conference rival Glenbard South took second with 56. The other local school to finish near Kaneland was Burlington Central with 22 points for 10th.

“Our program gained a great deal of experience this past weekend as we look towards next year,” KHS coach Eric Baron.

For KHS, the top finish was the 4×200 meter really unit of Dylan Pennington, Brandon Bishop, Brandon Cottier and Sean Carter, who took third with a time of 1:29.89 in the finals, a school record. Glenbard South’s team won the race with just .31 faster of a time.

Other exceptional relay action featured the 4x100m relay foursome of Bishop, Cottier, Dylan Nauert and Carter, which finished sixth in the finals at 42.70 seconds, marking another school record.

Individually, Nauert added a sixth-place finish to his mantle with a 39.34 second time on the 300m low hurdles event.

In the 200m dash event, Carter took seventh in the finals at 22.80 seconds.

Finally, the 4x800m school relay group of Conor Johnson, Nate Kucera, Clayton Brundige and Kyle Carter finished ninth overall with a clip of 8:02.68. A 7:59.87 time in prelims was good for a school record, as well.

Other State qualifiers that were in crowded fields included Kory Harner, who vaulted 13 feet in the pole vault.

Nate Dyer ended his season with a 50 feet, 1.5 inch toss in the shot put prelims.

Cottier’s effort in the 100m dash prelims was a 11.46 time.

With the season ended, the Knights say goodbye to Brundige, Sean Carter, Mitch Dienst, Andrew Essex, Miki Marin, Marcel Neil, Kelvin Peterson, Nate Rehkopf and Brandon Stahl.

KHS boys one point short of NIB-12 bragging rights

Photo: Kaneland’s Nate Dyer is about to throw the discus a conference-best 148 feet, nine inches, at the NIB-12 Conference track meet on Friday at DeKalb High School. Photo by John DiDonna

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Kaneland boys track had many competitors contributing to a winning effort during Friday’s second-ever Northern Illinois Big XII meet out at DeKalb’s Dresser Road digs.

Too bad Dixon had more of a winning effort, just one point more.
It’s fuel that will go toward motivation for a winning night at the Rochelle Sectional on Thursday, May 17.

Kaneland’s 97 points were second only to Dixon’s 98.

Sterling (78), Sycamore (75) and Rochelle (50) rounded out the top five with Yorkville, Geneseo, LaSalle-Peru, DeKalb and Ottawa completing the top 10.

Kaneland’s frosh-soph outfit took fourth.

The Knights’ relay personnel are as fast as ever, judging by the work in Barb-land.

Kyle Carter, Nate Kucera, Clayton Brundige and Conor Johnson took care of the 4x800m relay field with a time of eight minutes, 8.94 seconds, while 4x100m relay speedsters Brandon Bishop, Brandon Cottier, Dylan Nauert and Sean Carter won their race at 43.24 seconds.

In the 4x200m relay event, Dylan Pennington, Bishop, Cottier and Sean Carter won with a time of 1:29.88.

Hurdling went Nauert’s way when he ran a 40.20 second race, while Sean Carter finished second in the 200m dash with a time of 22.59, just .01 behind Dixon’s Scott Good.

Cottier, Nauert, Kucera and Sean Carter ran the 4x400m relay with a first-place time of 3:25.53.

Sophomore Nate Dyer continued his impressive campaign with a 148 foot, nine inch, first-place discus throw.

Tanner Andrews also served the KHS cause well with a 41-08.5 triple jump for second place.

The Knights hope to continue the momentum of great scores in Rochelle, with the team being served by athletes who have already been to Charleston.

But KHS coach Eric Baron’s coachin style will not change regardless of the previous May travels one has had.

“We have physically prepared our team to the best of our ability. This week is all about mental preparation. We will be ready to perform at our best on Thursday. Our focus is on getting as many athletes into the state meet as possible and getting personal best. Titles and points will come with a large number of personal best and qualifiers,” he said.

Feels like the 1st place for boys track

Photo: Nate Rehkopf, decked out in retro Knights track uniforms, took his heat of the 3200m run during Friday’s Kane County Invite out at West Aurora High School. Photo by Mike Slodki

Knight boys tie Geneva for first at prestigious KC meet
by Mike Slodki
AURORA—Team numbers don’t matter to Kaneland boys track. Neither do past accolades.

All that matters is that Kaneland put up an impressive 74 points in an 18-team Kane County Invite on Friday at West Aurora High School.

Coming off of a Peterson Prep first place and a second-place honor in Crystal Lake, the Knights’ total matched Geneva for first place at the historic Kane County grouping.

A year ago, Kaneland finished fourth with 57 points out at Millennium Field in Streamwood, Ill.

West Aurora finished third with 65 points at its home field, followed by Batavia and St. Charles North tying for fourth with 56 points.

Burlington Central took sixth with a total of 52.

South Elgin’s 41 was seventh best, while Aurora outfits Marmion Academy and Aurora Central Catholic tied for eighth with 37 points. St. Charles East rounded out the top 10 with 32 points.

KHS coach Eric Baron was eager to see what the KC happenings springboard to.

“We’ve had PRs for a lot of kids, like Nate Rehkopf in the 3200m prelims and Eric Dillon in the high jump,” Baron said. “This is the first of a line of big meets, and this is the granddaddy of them all. It’s been here for 92 years.”

Runners like Rehkopf still wanted to make an impact, even without a finals trip.

“The other teams might have bigger numbers but we have great depth, which I think puts us at an advantage,” Rehkopf said.

Kaneland can boast several area titleholders after the 2012 version of the Kane County excursion. Nate Dyer continued his astounding season with a shot put title after a finals throw of 50 feet. Fellow sophomore Dylan Nauert captured the 300 meter low hurdles title after a finals try of 40.19 seconds.

KHS also had several second-place finishers under its employ, beginning with Dyer in the discus with an effort of 151-01. Shane Jorgensen earned a second-place spotlight with a 48-10.5 in the shot put.

Third-place nods included Miki Marin in the 800m run with a tab of 1:58.40, Sean Carter in the 200m dash finals with a time of 22.46, and the 200m relay team of Dylan Pennington, Brandon Bishop, Brandon Cottier and Carter at 1:30.40.

The Knight fourth-place finishers included Eric Dillon in the high jump at 6-03 and Kory Harner in the pole vault at 12-09. Marshall Farthing took fifth in the long jump at 6-01, while Nauert found double-duty success with a fifth in the 110m high hurdles at 15.99.

Laying ahead for the Knight crew is the second-ever Northern Illinois Big XII meet in DeKalb on Friday, May 11.

Knight boys lay down exceptional efforts

Photo: Brandon Bishop begins a relay in the rain during the Boys and Girls visit to DeKalb on April 25. Photo by Patti Wilk

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Your Kaneland High School boys track outfit is getting hot at the right time.

On April 25, the Knight boys took care of DeKalb’s team in convincing fashion in a 110-36 dual.

They followed that with a second-place finish at their usual Crystal Lake Central Invite on Friday, dealing with other schools with a distinct numbers advantage.

Against the host Barbs, the Knights saw another stellar afternoon from Nate Dyer, who grabbed two firsts.

The sophomore threw a 48 foot, 7-and- a-half inch shot put, and also took the discus with a 140-10 throw.

Teammate Eric Dillon won the high jump with a 6-foot launch, while teammate Marshall Farthing won the triple jump with a 38-7.5 try. Dan Evers nabbed a first in the pole vault with an 11-06 vaulting, as well.

In relay activity, the Knights saw firsts in the 3200 meter relay with a time of 8:45.5 and a 400m relay run of 44 seconds.

Dylan Nauert continued a positive trajectory by taking the 110m high hurdles in 16.3 seconds, while Sean Carter won the 100m dash in 11.3 seconds.

Nauert continues to impress coach Eric Baron.

“Dylan is a very strong hurdler,” Baron said. “His technique is getting better all the time, but his strength carries him through right now.”

Knight Luis Acosta brought home the 800m run title with a 2:05.7 try, and Brandon Stahl won the 400m run with a 55.4 clip.

Carter also bested the field in the 200m run at 22.4 seconds, while the 1600m relay unit finished first with a time of 3:36.8.

In the 10-team Crystal Lake Central Invite held on Friday, the Knights also received enough good effort and fortune to take second up north.

With Belvidere North’s team taking first at 114 points, Kaneland’s second-place, 99-point total was good enough to outlast Harlem (93), the hosts (81) and Burlington Central (74).

Dyer’s 50-07.75 was good for second in the shot put, while Dillon reached fourth place in the high jump at 5-09.

Ben Barnes took third in the long jump at 19-05.

Kaneland’s 3200m relay team took second, with Nate Kucera, Conor Johnson, Clayton Brundige and Kyle Carter running a 8:21.18 track, and the crew of Brandon Bishop, Brandon Cottier, Nauert and Sean Carter were crowned champs of the 400m relay with a time of 43.84 seconds.

Nauert took the invite mantle in the 110m hurdles with a time of 15.96.

Ahead for the boys is the Kane County Invite, held at West Aurora High School on Friday, May 3, at 4:30 p.m.

Peterson Prep goes Kaneland’s way in 2012

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—After the 2011 results of the annual Peterson Prep boys track meet at Kaneland, the Knights’ fortunes could only get so much better.

Fortunately for Kaneland, the result of doing only so much better meant first place.

Falling short of West Aurora’s first-place, a year ago, the Knights’ clutch performances in many events meant 84 points, and the Peterson Prep crown.

KHS defeated Geneva (75 points), Burlington Central (64), West Aurora (50) and Yorkville (41) to reign over the Saturday field.

The exceptional outputs were highlighted by Knights like Nate Dyer, who beat the field in both the shot put and discus events.

A sophomore, Dyer threw 48 feet, two inches in the shot, and 153-09 in the discus.

Dyer, who competed in State events as a middle school athlete and earned some valuable experience a year ago, feels this group of throwers can provide point cushions that coach Eric Baron has been looking for the past several seasons.

“It’s been a pretty good meet, and I’ve been feeling good this season and after my throws today. All three of the top throwers here can make big throws,” Dyer said.

Field personnel like Marshall Farthing also had a productive morning, as the junior achieved a personal record in the high jump at 6 feet, 3 inches for third place.

KHS’ effort was apparent in events like the 100 meter dash finals in which senior Sean Carter took fourth with a time of 11.65 seconds.

Junior Dylan Pennington took fifth in the 200m dash finals thanks to a 24.02 time.

“I tried to keep as close as I could to the lead and it worked out,” Pennington said.

Pennington won his preliminary heat with a time of 23.75 seconds, and hopes the production in all his events continues.

“I hope in the 4×200 we can beat the school record. I feel I could be better,” Pennington said.

Dylan Nauert was crowned king of the 300m hurdles with a time of 40.68 seconds.

Meanwhile, in relay clashes, the Knights’ 4x100m foursome took first with a time of 43.78, the 4x200m unit took first with a time of 1:31.31 and the 4x400m relay squad took second at 3:26.62.

Ahead for the Knights’ boys track crew is a trip to the Crystal Lake Central Invite on Friday, April 27, before hosting both Morris and Yorkville on Tuesday, May 1.

Boys track feels outdoorsy at E. Moline

Photo: Alex Snyder throws the discus a huge 112 feet, 11 inches during Kaneland’s home meet against Sycamore on April 10. Photo by John DiDonna

Knights also earn dual win vs. Spartans
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—How do you deal with boys track giants from the Quad Cities area along with other very talented outfits?

You show your talent is as big and capable as theirs.

Kaneland boys track put up third-place numbers at the annual East Moline United Kiwanis Invitational at the Soule Bowl in East Moline, Ill., on Saturday with 233.5 points.

Rock Island won the meet crown with 260 points, while the hosts put up 250 points of their own.

Pleasant Valley of Iowa was in fourth with 196 points, and Galesburg was fifth at 195.

Two fellow Northern Illinois Big XII schools competed on Saturday, with Sterling finishing seventh in the 12-team meet (152 points), and Geneseo scoring 141.5 points for eighth.

With the events placed in A, B and C flights, Kaneland found plenty of competitors of their own with top finishes.

Knights standout Kyle Carter was the premiere runner in the 800 meter run “A”, thanks to a two minute, 2.96 effort, .72 seconds better than Beau Salsman of Galesburg.

Teammate Dylan Nauert’s third place in the 300m hurdles “A’ group fit well in the team’s success, thanks to a 41.40-second finish.

Nauert was at it again as part of the 4x100m relay team along with Brandon Bishop, Brandon Cottier and Sean Carter, as the foursome finished second with a time of 43.84.

In the 4x400m relay “A” flight, Bishop, Nathan Kucera, Kyle Carter and Nauert finished second with a 3:30.48 effort.

Kaneland also found encouraging developments in the field events, with JR Vest taking third in the pole vault with a height of 12 feet even.

Nate Dyer continued his positive trajectory from last year by throwing 45-10 in the shot put. Dyer also took second in the discus throw for coach Eric Baron’s crew, heaving a 144-10 disc.

Bishop found himself in the thick of things again by finishing third in the 100m dash “B” with a time of 11.9.

Kaneland’s Miki Marin emerged first in the 800m run “B” thanks to a 2:05.11, 1.25 seconds faster than Pleasant Valley’s Joe Schuler.

Eric Dillion finished third in the high jump “B” action with a leap of 5-10.

The Knights’ 4x400m relay group finished second in the “B” category with a time of 3:45.01.

In the pole vault “B” event, Knight Dylan Kuipers finished second with a height of 11 feet.

Sean Carter finished a scant .17 seconds behind Rock Island’s Brandon Richardson at 11.82.

Kucera took first in the 400m dash “C” with a time of 52.46, while teammate Clayton Brundige was king of the 800m run “C’ at 2:07.97.

KHS representative Brock Robertson finished second with a time of 43.74 seconds in the 300m hurdles “C”.

Another pole vaulter doing well for KHS was Dan Evers, who finished first in the “C” group with a vault of 10-06.

Kaneland’s Ben Barnes held his own in the “C” long jump grouping by finishing second with a distance of 18-09.5.

In a Tuesday meet against Sycamore, Kaneland won 96-50, thanks to first places from personnel like Nauert in the 300m hurdles (41.3) and Dyer in the shot put (45-11) and discus (140-05).

Conor Johnson also nabbed first in the 3200m run at 10:04.6. Dylan Pennington took first in the 200m dash with an effort of 24.9.

Vest excelled in the pole vault with an 11-foot launch.

Saturday, April 14, brings the latest test for boys track in the form of the Ottawa Invitational.

Boys track talent factory hopes to pay dividends

Photo: Kory Harner is one of the many cogs in the victory machine for Kaneland boys track. File Photo

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Knights boys track has a storied history and a lot to live up to.

In the last couple seasons, the outfit has not disappointed.

With 2010’s second-place team finish in Class 2A, and 2011’s third straight sectional championship, the final obstacle of the season saw a State crown for departed senior Taylor Andrews in the hurdles, as well as qualification in 10 events.

Seventh-year Coach Eric Baron takes solace in the fact that even with personnel like Andrews, Trevor Holm and Tommy Whittaker not wearing Knights garb, they return athletes that learned quite a bit and excelled often.

“We’re missing that experience this year, I’ll be honest,” Baron said. “Brandon Cottier has the most State meet experience now, and we have guys that ran at State like Sean Carter in the 4×200 and Brandon Bishop and Luis Acosta. We have a lot of young talent, but not a lot of big meet experience.”

Clayton Brundinge returns for events like the 4x800m relay, and the Knights will enjoy the talents of Miki Marin and Carter.

“Carter is a great leader and it was just his first year, and you’d never know it by talking with him and being around him,” Baron said.

Baron has a pleasant problem when it comes to distance.

“What I have right now is more depth than I’ve ever had before and can run fresh athletes in almost every distance race,” Baron said.

Kyle Carter, coming off a huge cross-country season, employs his endurance for the 4×800 and the 4×400.

Conor Johnson will also be counted on for distance events, along with Clayton Brundige, John Meisinger, Nate Rehkopf and Brandon Huber.

For sprints, Cottier returns to once again make a mark as a two-time Charleston qualifier, while Bishop returns off a NIB-12 best campaign in the 100m dash.

Dylan Pennington contributes to the spring side in the 4×100 and 4×200.

For the field events, Baron shows optimism.

“It’s going to be eye-opening how much we’ve improved on field events. Nate Dyer is on pace to blow away school records in discus, and Shane Jorgensen has thrown over 44 feet already,” Baron said.

Alex Snyder and Jaumaureo Phillips take care of the throwing events as well.

Perhaps the most questions center around the long jump, with basketball talent Marcel Neil making the transition to the track and hoping to answer some of them.

“Once we figure out what to do with him, he’s going to impress a lot of people in the long jump,” Baron said.

Tanner Andrews returns after having his sophomore campaign wiped out due to injury, and heads to the triple jump with teammates Marshall Farthing and Frankie Furco.

Kory Harner and Dylan Nauert look to return to rarified air in the pole vault and hurdles, respectively.

The Knights try to move on from a productive indoor campaign and head outdoors to the East Moline United Invite on Saturday, April 7. The Kane County Invite takes place at West Aurora on Friday, May 4.

Taylor-made: Senior is Class 2A 110m hurdle champ

Photo: Senior Taylor Andrews (left), here running the 4x400m Relay in Friday’s prelims, set a state record in the 110m High Hurdles Friday, only to break it again Saturday during the IHSA State Track and Field Finals. Andrews won the event in 14.27 seconds, .10 seconds ahead of second place. Photo by Marshall Farthing

CHARLESTON—West Point wants the best and brightest.

It’s a good thing, because Knights senior Taylor Andrews showed he not only has those traits, but it also among the fastest.

Andrews set the Illinois boys track 2A State record with a 110 meter hurdles time of 14.27 seconds, .10 seconds ahead of Peoria Richwood’s Clayton Glasper.

Andrews also won his preliminary heat with 14.34 seconds worth of speed, also a record.

Andrews runs on the heels of 2010 State champs Nick Sinon in the high jump and the 4x400m relay.

A year ago, coach Eric Baron’s crew finished second in Class 2A. In 2011, it finished tied for 16th with 18 points, deadlocked with Mahomet-Seymour and Springfield’s Lanphier High School.

Cahokia (62 points), Glenwood (44) and Glenbard South (40) rounded out the top three.

Other finalists at Eastern Illinois University for the Knights was the 4x100m relay team of Jessee Balluff, Brandon Cottier, Andrews and Tommy Whittaker, as they finished sixth at 42.59 seconds.

The foursome won its preliminary heat at 43:03 seconds.

Additionally, Whittaker found himself sixth in the state in the 400m dash event, after racing in 50.21 seconds, capping his senior campaign. Whittaker finished third in his preliminary heat with a time of 50.13.

Fellow senior standout Trevor Holm finished 10th in the finals in the 1600m run, at 4:24.51. Holm was sixth in the preliminaries at 4:23.22.

Fellow state qualifiers included personnel like Kory Harner, whose pole vault effort was 13 feet.

The 4x800m relay team of Mickey Marin, Luis Acosta, Clayton Brundige and Holm was fifth in its heat at 8:18.84.

Whittaker ran a 11.18 in the 100m dash prelims. Curtis Secrest, Sean Carter, Brandon Bishop and Cottier ran a 1:31.46 in the 4x200m relay prelims.

Knight Dylan Nauert, who qualified at Sectionals by .01 seconds, finished the 300m hurdles in 40.67 seconds.

Cottier, Secrest, Andrews and Whittaker finished the 4x400m prelims at 3:23.36.

Kaneland boys track now says goodbye to Andrews, Doug Bade, Holm, Trevor Schramer, Secrest, Matt Spitzzeri and Whittaker due to graduation.

Boys track win 3rd straight sectional

by Mike Slodki
ROCHELLE—Call ‘em champs.

With 90 team points, Kaneland pulled off the sectional three-peat. Sterling was second, tied with Burlington Central at 78 points.

Knights boys track began the State bus with the 4×800 meter relay unit as it placed fourth with a time of 8 minutes, 8.72 seconds.

Kaneland managed an event title in the 4x100m relay with a time of 42.76.

Taylor Andrews looks to finish his KHS tenure on a skyrocketing trajectory with a 14.35 championship in the 110m high hurdles, edging rival Tre Llanes of Burlington Central by .43 seconds.

With a 1:31.11 in the 4x200m relay, Kaneland finished fourth and qualified for Charleston, Ill.

“It’s been a focus from the beginning,” KHS coach Eric Baron said. “The program is at a point where we believe we can be successful year in and year out.”

400m dash qualifying glory went to Tommy Whittaker, whose 50.15 time was good for third in the finals.

Freshman Knight Dylan Nauert is going to EIU after qualifying in the 300m hurdles by .01 seconds (40.43, third place).

“I just ran scared,” Nauert said. “I just tried my best and wanted to qualify. I needed to be quicker and work on my steps, and I hopefully make it to Saturday.”

Standout Trevor Holm goes in the 1600m run after finishing third with a time of 4:26.19, and is involed in the 4x800m relay.

“For relays, I go into it not wanting to let my team down,” Holm said. “My mind’s a little different than an individual event for that one.”

KHS finished first in the 4x400m relay with a time of 3:20.96.

Knight Kory Harner, with a pole vault of 13 feet, 3 inches, met the qualifying mark in that event.

photo courtesy of yorkvilletrackandfield.com

Knights boys track visits 93-year old friend

by Mike Slodki
STREAMWOOD, Ill.—Millenium Field housed some Kaneland boys track performances to take notice of on Friday.

Perhaps the most pleasant conditions for a boys track meet this season was as good a reason as any for people to enjoy the 93rd annual Kane County Boys Track and Field Meet.

“I was worried the kids might fall over without wind or rain in their face today,” KHS coach Eric Baron said. “The tradition and pagaentry of the Kane County Meet, it’s one of the best meets, if not the best in the entire state.”

Hosted by Elgin High School at the Streamwood, Ill. locale, West Aurora ran away with the meet points count at 109.5 points. Batavia finished second at 82.5 points, followed by St. Charles North at 62 and the Knights at 57 points, good for fourth.

St. Charles East (49), Burlington Central (45.5) and Geneva (41) rounded out the top seven.

The lone Kane County Meet champion brandishing the 1970s retro orange track get-up on Friday was senior stalwart Taylor Andrews, who captured the 110 meter hurdles crown with a 14.38 second time in the finals. Andrews, who bested Batavia’s Rob Mohr by .14 seconds, also aced the prelims with a time of 14.69.

Kaneland’s 4x100m relay finished in second with a time of 43.36, and its 4x400m relay took second with a time of 3:24.98.

Third places went to the 4x800m relay foursome that ran in 8:08.37.

Senior anchor Tommy Whittaker was third in the 100m dash finals at 11.28 seconds. Whittaker also used his speed to take third in the 400m dash with an effort of 50.12 seconds.

Andrews also gathered a fourth place in the 300m hurdles in 39.48 seconds.

Teammate Trevor Holm also brought his name into the conversation with a fourth-place, 4:31.23 finish in the 1600m run.

Junior Frankie Furco represented Kaneland in the field events quite well with a fourth in the high jump (5 feet, 11 inches).

With a good showing against powerful Kane County-arrea squads, KHS coach Eric Baron likes where his team is situated with the regular season clock counting down to zero.

“I pulled my seniors aside and told them they had to get it going, and Tommy Whittaker just dominated his heat in the prelim. We know what were going to get out of our seniors, and the young guys will just catch on,” Baron said.

Field asset Matt Spitzzeri finished sixth in the triple jump with a tally of 42-07.75.

“I’ve been focusing on it more this year,” Spitzzeri said. “We’re doing pretty well, and when the seniors do good, it can give the young guys more confidence.”

Kaneland battles familiar competition in the first-ever Northern Illinois Big XII Conference meet in Ottawa, Ill., on Friday, May 13, at 5 p.m.

Talent, effort goes the distance for Knights

Photo: Trevor Holm remains a key component of the Kaneland High School boys track success the last several years, especially in the 1600m run. Photo by Linda Bell

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It was a high ceiling for Kaneland High School boys track in 2010, and by the end of the season in Charleston, Ill., it turned into a celebration.

A second-place finish in the Class 2A State meet and a State championship in two events were reason to party, and Kaneland hopes to extend it.

But, it’ll have to come with a lot of preparation, which fifth-year coach Eric Baron has already started on.

“It started at track camp in June, and we took a look at what we have coming back,” Baron said. “We looked at areas we need to strengthen. It’s a reloading program. We lost a lot of good seniors. I think the group of freshmen that’s coming in might be better than the group that just left, talent-wise.”

In terms of sprints, Tommy Whittaker’s name will come up early and often.

“Tommy is not only going to win a lot of races, he is just a tremendous leader,” Baron said. “It’s a senior class of seven. Their leadership is outstanding.”

Whittaker, Taylor Andrews, Matt Spitzzeri and Trevor Holm will be counted on to give that frosh-soph class some leadership.

“It’s gone on since before I was coach. You listen to the upperclassmen because they’ve been through the wringer,” Baron said.

Sprints and hurdlers will see an Andrews presence, who competed side-by-side with new Golden Gopher Logan Marcusson.

The entire 4×100 and 4×200 meter relays return to give KHS an added boost, fresh off a Charleston trip last year.

Brandon Cottier, Andrew Essex, Curtis Secrest and Quinn Buschbacher also look to contribute. Sophomore Dylan Pennington is also expected to make the most of his time on the track.

Holm takes care of the distance question.

“Trevor could be an All-Stater in pretty much any event we decide to go with,” Baron said.

Baron touted freshmen Luis Acosta and Kyle Carter as pleasant surprises in the early goings, especially in relays.

In the field, Frankie Furco has high jumped over six feet in indoor competition.

A young jumper looking to help the Knights is Marshall Farthing, also excelling in indoor action.

Spitzzeri in triple jump looks to make the State meet after missing by 1.5 inches last year.

“Matt Cowans is coming in in great shape off of basketball and is jumping real well,” Baron said.

Kaneland remains quite young in the throws and looks to several underclassmen to step in to spots previously held by personnel like Phil Christensen.

“There’s the potential for several Phil Christensens in our throwing crew right now, like Alex Snyder and Nate Dyer and Tom King,” Baron said.

On Saturday, April 9, the Knights begin the outdoor season at East Moline United. The Peterson Prep is hosted at KHS on Saturday, April 23.

Boys track takes Sterling Sectional; 11 events to State

by Mike Slodki
STERLING—Kaneland boys track isn’t just getting hot at the right time, it’s smokin’.

With 126 total points and 11 State qualifying events coming out of Friday’s Class 2A Sterling Sectional, Kaneland beat its closest competitor, DeKalb, by 57 points.

Burlington Central finished third with 58 points, followed by Yorkville at 55 and Rochelle at 52.

The Knights’ 11 events was the most since 1998, in which Kaneland qualified in 12 events.

Coach Eric Baron’s crew now gears up for a trip to the Class 2A State finals in Charleston, Ill. at Eastern Illinois University.

Kaneland’s entry in the 4x800m relay (Dominic Furco, Sean Paulick, Joe Levita, Trevor Holm) earned sectional champ honors with a time of 8 minutes, 6.99 seconds, beating BC by 1.73 seconds.

In other relay action, the 4x100m relay squad (Andrew Essex, Brandon Cottier, Taylor Andrews, Tommy Whittaker) finished second with a time of 43.57 seconds, just .19 behind DeKalb.

In 110 meter high hurdles action, the tandem of Taylor Andrews and Logan Markuson pushed each other to higher levels all season, and it was no different in Sterling as the two Knights finished in the top two spots. Andrews finished first at 14.54 seconds, while Markuson took second at 14.74.

With a second-place nod in the 100 meter dash, Whittaker’s 11.17 was good enough to send him packing to EIU.

Kaneland will send two competitors to State in the 800m run, as stalwarts Edgar Valle (1:58.27) and Derek Bus (1:59.04) took the top two spots in the event.

KHS also sends the unit that participated in the 4x200m relay (Essex, Cottier, Curtis Secrest, Whittaker) to State, as it finished third with a qualifying time of 1:31.82.

“We have underclassmen in both the 100 and 200 (relay); that’s impressive,” Baron said. “Really, the guy who got the ball rolling for us was Whittaker. He had a huge night in the 100 and won his heat in the prelims, and once he did that it kind of carried over to the rest of the team.”

Markuson came back to take the sectional champ crown in the 300m low hurdles, running in 39.62, and will be joined by teammate Andrews (second place, 40.68 seconds).

The Knight foursome that ran the 4x400m relay (Whittaker, Bus, Valle, Markuson) finished first with a time of 3:23.01, beating out BC by 3.71.

Markuson qualified for a third event with a second-place pole vault effort of 13 feet, 3 inches, continuing Kaneland’s long standing tradition of sending pole vaulters to the big meet annually since 1983.

“We’ve had great coaching,” Baron said. “Kaneland is about pole vaulting, and Andy Drendel came in this year. He and Logan felt a great deal of pressure. Logan stepped up when it mattered in his last attempt.”

Nick Sinon returns to Charleston, based on his second-place high jump at 6-07.

Matt Spitzzeri makes it to State for the first time by capturing fourth in the triple jump at 43-07.

The State finals are Friday, May 28, and Saturday, May 29.

Boys track excels at Peterson Prep 2010

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Knights boys track is performing at a high level at this season’s juncture, judging by Saturday’s home meeting and Tuesday conference action.

Kaneland took the annual Peterson Prep Invitation held in Maple Park this past Saturday with a showing of 100 points. Geneva came in second at 86 points, followed by West Aurora (77 points), Dundee-Crown (52) and Lincoln-Way Central (36).

KHS saw exceptional finishes throughout the afternoon. Derek Bus, with a run of 1 minute, 56.83 seconds, finished second in the 800 meter run, while teammate Edgar Valle took fifth with a time of 1:58.31.

In the 1600m run, Matt Reusche of Kaneland finished sixth at 4:38.68.

In the 3200m run, Trevor Holm ran the track in 10:03.77, good for sixth in the finals.

The hurdles yielded big gains for the Knights, with Taylor Andrews and Logan Markuson having a productive afternoon.

Andrews and Markuson finished in the top three of the 110m hurdles semifinals, before Andrews finished first at 14.55 second, and Markuson finished .06 behind to cinch the top two spots.

In the 300m hurdles, Markuson finished second (39.53) and Andrews finished third (40.25).

Relay action saw the foursome of Tommy Whittaker, Bus, Valle and Markuson win the 4x400m relay at 3:22.55, a new meet record.

Kaneland also had a fifth-place finish in 4x800m relay competition thanks to Sean Paulick, Joe Levita, Dominic Furco and Clayton Brundige running in 8:23.64.

Nick Sinon finished with an effort of six feet, six inches in the high jump for second place.

Marksuon vaulted to a 14 foot pole vault effort, good enough for the top spot at the invite, while Jemmar Parrenas finished second at 13 feet.

Sinon was at it again with a second-place long jump try at 21-09, followed by teammate Paulick at 21-05 for fourth place.

“It was a tremendous effort by Sean and Nick today,” coach Eric Baron said. “Sean is talented, but that was a huge jump, and the long jump is Nick’s best event.”

Paulick, who jumped a foot farther than his usual effort in the prelims, was pleased with the outcome.

“I did the same thing that I always do after warming up,” Paulick said. “I thought it was just a typical jump and it ended up being a foot farther. This season is starting out great, you couldn’t ask for anything more, and the whole team is clicking.”

Brock Dyer had an encouraging third-place showing in the discus at 135-02.

Tuesday saw the boys travel to Geneva and score 75 points to beat the Vikings’ 62 point total and DeKalb’s 46.

Boys track looks to top themselves

Photo: Preparation continues for members of the Kaneland boys track squad that finished 13th in Class 2A a year ago. Photo by Mike Slodki
by Mike Slodki
Maple Park—Can the Kaneland High School boys track roster top last year’s exceptional finish?

Seven separate events saw Kaneland representation at the Class 2A State meet in Charleston, and the team finished 13th overall.

Senior Logan Markuson was crowned State champ in the 300 meter intermediate hurdles.

Graduate Josh Bloome and Markuson both medalled in the pole vault, and senior Nick Sinon took third in the high jump.

It sounds daunting on paper, but with a roster eclipsing the 70-person mark and with a glut of talent familiar with success, it’s possible for huge things to happen for KHS boys track.

“I would say we’re pretty excited,” KHS coach Eric Baron said. “We started with a lot of ambition and excitement about what we think we can accomplish. Winning the indoor invite this week was a first step.”

Markuson, now quickly climbing up the record books for Knights track, is appreciated by Baron for what he brings.

“He’s just a great person,” Baron said. “ It’s about more than just athletic ability. He hasn’t missed one day of school ever. Every meet, he’ll go out and do what you ask him to do.”

Markuson will look to make a mark in the hurdles, pole vault and 4×400 relay once again.

Sinon returns to the ranks after some offseason experience and has already cleared 6-8 in the indoor long jump.

“He’s looking at big things this year and is a real student of the sport,” Baron said. “We’ll be strong in all of our jumps, and this is going to be a big year for him.”

Helping the KHS cause was a Western Sun Conference indoor championship last week.

Also back on the sprint side is Taylor Andrews, who qualified in the 110m high hurdles and benefited from racing alongside Markuson.

Much will have to be done to absolve the loss of Lucas Ross, Colin Zagel and Brendan McCarthy.

“We’re looking for Tommy Whittaker to have a nice year and Serpa ran well for us, and then there’s some young guys like Curtis Secrest and Andrew Essex, who are working super hard,” Baron said.

On the relay side, Whittaker, Edgar Valle and Markuson return from the 4x400m.

Valle, who Baron marked as an unsung contributor to track during his tenure, also qualified for the 4x800m relay, along with Derek Bus, Sean Paulick and graduated Hayden Johnson.

“Bus qualified for State last year and has come out this year so far and made a statement,” Baron said.

“(Edgar) doesn’t get a lot of limelight, but he’s been a relay guy for us every meet,” Baron said.

The freshmen class comes in with personnel like Brandon Cottier, Alex Gil and Chad Swieca, who are primed for action.

“Cottier looks like a special athlete, and we’re figuring out what his best event is,” Baron said.

On the field side of things, it’s open season.

“Alex Mollohan and Brett Ketza are throwing for us and they look ready to step up,” Baron said.

Baron added Ben Kovalick to the throwing list.

For vault, Markuson and Jemmar Parrenas take the reins. Parrenas has gone over 12 feet in indoor competition.

For now, Baron mentions only a couple of nagging injury issues to Blake Serpa and Whittaker.

“A big thing right now is taking it easy on people when we can,” Baron said.

Seniors looking to contribute are Justin Choate, Brock Dyer, Dominic Furco, Kevin Hodge, Carlos Hufshlag, Joe Levita, Lukas Liebich, Justin Phillips, Matt Swift and Kyle Wagner.

Juniors looking to get in the mix are Cody McGinnis and Matt Spitzzeri.

Baron cited Matt Reusche on the senior side and juniors Matt Cowans and Trevor Holm as athletes that are capable of big things.

Sophomores are Chase Borneman, Clayton Brundige, Tom Chidester, Joe Cozzi, Mitch Dienst, Evan Dukes, Andrew Essex, Frankie Furco, Jake Ginther, Thomas King, Jimmy Lagness, Mickey Marin, John Michek, Thanasi Pesmajoglou, Kelvin Peterson, Nate Rehkopf, Brandon Stahl, Devin Swearingen and Nicholas Wieglos.

Freshmen are Trevor Anderson, Tanner Andrews, David Barnhart, Ryan Euting, Marshall Farthing, Dan Goress, Kory Harner, Billy Hart, Brandon Huber, Conor Johnson, Brad Kigyos, Jay Markuson, John Meisenger, Jimmy Merletti, Nick Messina, Liam Mulloy, Ben Nelson, Ryan Paulson, Dylan Pennington, Nick Sharp, Ben Sommers, Gus Stott, Chad Swieca, Zach Theis, Chris Wido and George WIlson.

The outdoor season for Kaneland boys track begins on Saturday, April 10, at East Moline United with conference action against visiting Batavia and Rochelle on Tuesday, April 13.

The Kane County Meet is on Friday, May 7, at West Aurora, with the final Western Sun Conference meet on Friday, May 14, at Geneva.

Logan’s Run

Markuson, Sinon earn All-State honors for KHS boys track
by Mike Slodki
This past weekend, Kaneland High School junior Logan Markuson lept right over hurdles and into the IHSA State record books.

Markuson, who had competed at the State level last year, was crowned Class 2A champion in the 300m intermediate hurdles event with a time of 38.57 seconds.

For KHS, it marks the first track State champ for the school since 2004 girls track entry Janine Zylinski, who threw a 42 foot, two inches effort in the shot put.

The last boys track State champion occurred 10 years ago, when Kurt Long pole vaulted at 14-9. The last race champ for the Knights was 1977’s Mark Claypool, running a 47.18 in the 440-yard dash.

“It’s weird. I finished the race and it was like ‘what do I do now?’” Marksuon said. “It hasn’t completely sunk in yet.”

Logan Markuson in the Polve Vault during Friday's prelims.
Logan Markuson in the Polve Vault during Friday's prelims.

Kaneland as a team finished 13th overall in the 2A ranks (20 points).

Hillcrest took the title at 93 points. Cahokia finished a distant second at 47 points, and Springfield Lanphier finished third at 44 points. Western Sun Converence rival Sycamore finished 12th at 22 points, while Glenbard South finished 15th at 18 points.

Markuson’s memorable day also included a seventh-place finish in the pole vault at 13-6. Streator junior Logan Pflibsen won the event at 15-6. Knight Josh Bloome also earned a noteworthy finish at 10th overall (13-3).

Junior Nick Sinon earned All-State honors by placing third in the high jump. Photo by Ben Draper
Junior Nick Sinon earned All-State honors by placing third in the high jump. Photo by Ben Draper

Sectional champion Nick Sinon was up to his old tricks in the high jump, earning an all-State finish with a third-place, 6-7 launch.

“It was amazing,” Sinon said. “Going into this year, I didn’t think I’d do as well, but it all worked out.”

Sinon added,” I think I can go higher next year.”

In the 3200m run, Paul Davies’ 10:00.48 run was good for 13th place in Illinois.

Markuson’s 110m high hurdles dreams were stopped with a false start in the finals.

“I knew there were a couple colleges out there, and they looked at how you recover from things like that,” Markuson said.

“After Logan false started in the 110, I said to him, ‘Champions are measured by how they overcome adversity.’ Logan demonstrated what a champion is in so many ways this season, and the 300 Race at State showed everyone that Logan is a champion,” KHS coach Eric Baron said.

His State-winning effort in the 300m was .20 better than second-place Wana Wauna of Oak Forest.

Markuson’s point total as a junior is six points shy of Claypool’s total.

Markuson and Sinon’s All-State honors are the first since Phil Christensen’s discus honors in 2008.

In the 4x800m relay, Kaneland’s Derek Bus, Hayden Johnson, Sean Paulick and Edgar Valle ran the track in 8:14.01.

110m hurdles entry Taylor Andrews ran his event in 15.35, .12 behind Harlan’s Brandan Presley for the final qualifying spot.

In the 4×400 meter relay, Knight foursome Johnson, Markuson, Tommy Whittaker and Valle finished in 3:27.22 in the preliminaries.

Photo: Kaneland’s Logan Markuson became the first Kaneland boys track and field athlete to win an individual state championship since Kurt Long won the pole vault in 1999, when Markuson won the 300m intermediate hurdles Saturday. He is also the first state champion in the hurdles for the Knights, and placed seventh in the pole vault as well.

Photos by Ben Draper

Kaneland boys anticipate sectional

by Mike Slodki
Kaneland saw plenty of top finishers as it prepares for the important Freeport Sectional this Friday, May 22.

The 1-2 combo of Taylor Andrews and Logan Markuson finished in the top two spots in the 110 meter hurdles event. Andrews ran in 14.69 seconds while Markuson took second at 14.84.

The two Knights were at it again in the 300m hurdles event, as Markuson won with a 39.41 final effort, with Andrews taking third at 41.03.

“Taylor and Logan both feed off each other in the 110’s,” Kaneland coach Eric Baron said. “They have used each other as a gauge to see how well each one is running. It will be interesting to see how they run when they both have a good clean race. Taylor has a built-in role model, and Logan has one as well in Taylor. They are both great kids, and coach Robbie Bieritz has done an amazing job with all of our hurdlers.”

“A lot of it is Logan,” Andrews said on Saturday morning. “In the hurdles we push each other to succeed and get better.”

Kaneland’s 4x800m relay foursome of Hayden Johnson, Sean Paulick, Derek Bus and Edgar Valle finished second with a time of 8:19.12.

Nick Sinon became conference champ with a six-foot result in the high jump.

“Nick had a great week last week, and he handled the presure of being the top ranked high jumper in conference, and that will bode well for the sectional,” Baron said.

Markuson took home the WSC crown in the pole vault (13-9), while teammate Josh Bloome was third at 12-9.

On the frosh/soph side of things, Tommy Whittaker continued his road back from injuries with a second place, 53.81 second final effort in the 400m dash.

Whittaker also took part in the f/s 4x400m relay that finished third at 3:52.40. Whittaker, Andrews, Curtis Secrest and Jake Ginther made up the contingent.

The Knights’ 4×800 relay featuring Trevor Holm, Nick Dunetman, Clayton Brundige and Jake Ginther managed a second in the frosh/soph race by running 8:54.09.

Knight Josh Bloome represents Kaneland pole vaulting on Tuesday. Coach Eric Baron’s crew looks to make a dent in the Freeport Sectional on Friday, May 22. Photo by Ben Draper

KHS boys track off to quick outdoor start

by Mike Slodki
Coach Eric Baron’s boys track team is performing about as well as expected.
Luckily for the black-and-white clad Knights, that’s pretty good.

This past Saturday, the Knights traveled to East Moline United Township High School for the United Township Kiwanis Invite and managed a fifth-place finish (149.5 points), with the host school taking the top prize at 292 points.

The Knights also traveled to Batavia High School on a blustery Tuesday to clash with the Bulldogs and fellow Western Sun Conference school Rochelle.

With A, B, and C heats for all the events, Kaneland saw success near the Quad Cities. Matt Reusche took second place in the 1600 meter run “B” with a time of 4 minutes, 44.8 seconds. Logan Markuson was first in the 300m hurdles “A” at 39.9 seconds. Teammate Taylor Andrews was second in the “C” heat with a time of 42.1 seconds.

The 4x100m relay foursome finished third at 44.72 seconds, while the 4x400m relay team also took third at 3:31.6. The field events featured athletes like Nick Sinon finishing second in the high jump “A” with a six-foot jump. Markuson took third in pole vault “A” with a 13-foot vault. Jemmar Parenas finished first in the “C” vault at 10 feet.

On Tuesday, Kaneland finished second behind Batavia with 76.5 points thanks to seven firsts.

“Our kids have come to compete against the best kids in the conference,” Baron said. “I’m really happy with all of them-the first conference meet of the season-and we look good.”

Photo: 2009 Boys track and field team. Courtesy of kaneland.org

Spring Sports Preview: Fully loaded: Kaneland boys track brings the talent

by Mike Slodki
Fourth-year head coach Eric Baron is happy where things are at with boys track.

“We’re ahead of where we’ve been since I’ve been here. We are as deep and as good as we’ve been in awhile,” Baron said.

That’s good news for KHS fans, and uneasy news for their competition.

Drawing comparisons with the Class A juggernaut from 10 years ago that sent personnel like Bill McKeown and P.J. Fleck, the 66-person team is quite deep.

“We have people fighting for spots, but it’s a pleasant problem and they can’t wait to get out there,” Baron said.

A year removed from sending graduated Phil Christensen to State in the shot put and discus, Logan Markuson in the pole vault, Lucas Ross, Colin Zagel, Brendan McCarthy and Tommy Whittaker in the 4×200 relay and Hayden Johnson, Whitaker, Edgar Valle and Markuson in the 4×400 relay, the Knights return all the State-goers but Christensen.

“Kids get their eyes opened the first time down there, and they get very serious about getting back a second time,” Baron.

Armed and ready for a repeat trip to State are runners like Ross, who looks to make his mark in the 100m dash, 200m dash and relays.

“He’s as fast as I’ve ever seen him,” Baron said.

Hayden Johnson is ready for the 400 and 800 runs and provides great leadership, according to Baron.

Matt Weaver will try to separate himself in the hurdles, and both the 400 and 800.

“We’ve seen what he could do in cross country and we really need him out there,” Baron said.

The distance end of things reveals Paul Davies, who saw a personal best in the two-mile indoor race this season. McCarthy, Brett Ketza, Alex Mollohan and Eric Dratnol also see action at various events.

Matt Reusche can make an impact in the distance and the relays after qualifying for State in cross country.

Nick Sinon, who saw a productive indoor season that included a first-place finish at the WSC indoor meet, looks to do damage in the high jump, and Dominic Furco is set up for distance.

Sinon could also be an entry in the triple jump, while Sean Paulick will try the long jump.

Other ingredients to the mix are Taylor Andrews in the triple jump and Johnson in the long jump.

Newcomers to the track program are Blake Serpa, who’ll try his craft at sprints and relays, and Jimmy Boyle in the throwing events.

The hurdles look to have Markuson, Andrews and Weaver helping the Knights’ cause.

Trying to fill the shoes of Christensen and remaining healthy will be tantamount to the KHS success, but Baron feels that this crew can turn the local competition on its ear.

“This is a group that’s extremely eager to please and great to be around, and we’d like to see improvement from last year. That’ll determine a successful year, rather than trophies,’ Baron said.

The outdoor season begins on Tuesday, April 14, as Kaneland and Rochelle go to Batavia. The famed Peterson Prep kicks off on Saturday, April 25. The Kane County Meet takes place on Friday, May 8, and the WSC meet happens on Friday, May 15, at Batavia.

Photo: Alex Mollohan, seen throwing at the WSC indoor meet last week at Sycamore, looks to be one of the field contributors for a successful 2009 in Kaneland boys track. Photo by Ben Draper

Drendel gets due; KHS mainstay inducted into coaches’ hall of fame

by Mike Slodki

When asked to reflect on the recent honor bestowed upon him, former Kaneland track coach Ralph Drendel simply said, “I’ve got a lot of Kaneland in my system.”

It might be that all-encompassing take on his career that inducted Drendel into the Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame on Jan. 10 in a ceremony at Oak-Park River Forest High School.

Drendel was accompanied to the ceremony by coaches Eric Baron, Joe Thorgesen, Matt Smith, Barney Callaghan, Randy Olesen, Robby Bieritz and Chad Clarey, along with the rest of the Drendel family.

“I’ve never had a more passionate coach,” Clarey said. “He stressed working hard and putting on the best home meets possible.”

A KHS teacher from 1978-2005, Drendel coached track and field athletes to over 60 State medals and two State trophies (90-99), and was coach of the year on three occasions (90-91-99).

Fellow former Kaneland coach Bruce Peterson is also a member of the Hall of Fame. Current Kaneland assistant coach Randy Olesen was also honored with the Dave Pasquinini Award for Assistant Coach of the Year. Current boys track coach Eric Baron was given the award in 2001 for cross country.

Other honorees at the hall-of-fame gathering were OPRF coach Glenn Cothern, Springfield Lanphier’s Mike Garcia, John Lemke of Rolling Meadows, Barrington’s Debbie Revolta, OPRF coach Josa Sosa and Champaign Central’s Dike Stirrett.

Drendel, who’s resume includes being the point man for home track invites and doing P.A. for athletic events, was humbled by his peers joining him in the hall, and about those who already reside there.

“You sit there and watch all these great coaches and these guys are really good. You can’t believe you get to join them,” Drendel said. “I just wanted to do a good job at being in charge of the events.”

Drendel joins the the elite brethen, but not without remembering what it took to get there, and with whom.

“Eddington, Bob Pederson, Bruce Peterson, Joe Thorgesen, these are pretty important people in my life. I learned from guys like them,” Drendel said.

Upon learning of the honor, Clarey asked Drendel to be at KHS to give a talk to the cross-country team before the WSC meet, where Peterson and Drendel’s family joined in announcing the honor.

“It was after practice, and I was so excited and proud that they would choose my dad,” said current sophomore volleyball coach Kelsey Drendel, Ralph’s daughter. “I most want to emulate his ability to motivate his athletes to always give their best effort and to reach for something higher than they could even imagine.

The hall-of-fame member of the Drendel clan summed up his continuing Kaneland story.

“I went to Kaneland, my kids went here and it’s a good place to have your kids grow up. At the end of the day you did this for the kids and tried to do the best you could.”