Tag Archives: Nicholas Albano

Boys XC curbing loss of 3 key parts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boys XC wish to re-run great ending

Photo: Trent Holm (left) will serve in a senior leadership role for the Kaneland boys cross-country squad. File Photo

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—How does a team that finished fifth in the Class 2A boys cross country race a year ago repeat the appealing end?

With the same preparation and attack, and new personnel to replace the graduates.

“For the most part, everyone is healthy, but we are resting and repairing some pieces to our team,” coach Chad Clarey said.

Out of the 14 to go to State, nine return.

Clarey has some holes to fill, but the senior leadership of Grant Alef, Trevor Holm and Tommy Whittaker provide stability to a team that lost five of its top seven places.

“We return three seniors and each one of them is an All-State athlete in cross-country, track or swimming in 2009.

Holm finished 23rd in State and Clarey likes his trajectory.

“He has had a good summer. He’ll see where the best runners in the state are and compare himself to that,” Clarey said.

Alef was often the fifth runner for the Knights a year ago and was second and fourth in two events for swimming Junior Nationals recently.

“He’s finally on dry land now and ready to run. I think I’ll be a quicker transition for him. He worked his way up through the lineup last year,” Clarey said.

Whittaker, a sprinter by nature, “has groomed himself to be a nice distance runner and had an excellent offseason,” Clarey said.

The junior circuit includes Austin Paulson, Jake Ginther, Kelvin Peterson, Frankie Furco, Clayton Brundige, Stelios Lekkas, John Michek and Nate Rehkopf.

“We’ve got solid juniors and eventually we look for the frosh/soph runners to make their push during the season. Kids that might be in that mix are (sophs) Conor Johnson, Billy Hart, John Meisinger,” Clarey said.

Other sophomores include Nick Messina, Ryan Paulson, Gus Stott, Brad Kigyos, Nicholas Albano, Chris Wido, Brandon Huber and Justin Pollastrini.

Freshmen are Luis Acosta, Ryan Bower, Garrett Patterson, Dylan Kuipers, Phil Cutsinger and Kyle Carter.

A new opportunity for getting back to the postseason promised land also brings a new opportunity for fresh conference foes in the Northern Illinois Big XII.

“When we ran in the old Western Sun Conference, we only finished in the top four one time. It was that talented and Sycamore who was a State champ didn’t even win the conference. Geneseo has a nice nucleus, DeKalb is getting better. I think Yorkville would be the team to beat going into all this,” Clarey said.

The regular season begins on Tuesday, Aug. 31 against West Chicago and Wheaton Academy, while the Eddington Invite takes place on Saturday, Sept. 18. Conference is on Saturday, Oct. 16.