Tag Archives: Phil Cutsinger

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Knight boys show tough State of mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Photos by Mary Paulson

Seniors lead way to Sectional

BURLINGTON, ILL—In the race for state, the Kaneland boys cross country team is heading in the right direction.

With a trio of seniors leading the way, a return trip to the state meet might be in the cards at Saturday’s Belvidere sectional.

Led by senior Kyle Carter’s 10th place in 16 minutes, 9.9 seconds, and a 14th place by senior Nathaniel Kucera (16:19), the Knights placed third in the Burlington Central Regional last Saturday. Vernon Hills was crowned team champion, while Crystal Lake Central placed second. CLC’s Ryan Pitner’s 15:26 was the best time of the day individually.

Behind his fellow seniors Carter and Kucera, Ryan Bower was the Knights third runner, placing 26th with a time of 16:47. Junior Andrew Lesak (28th, 16:47), sophomore Sean Spaetzel (31st, 17:00), and seniors Luis Acosta (34th, 17:04) and Phil Cutsinger (42nd, 17:25) rounded out the Knights.

Although the Knights advanced to the sectional, veteran coach Chad Clarey knows adjustments still need to be made for the Knights to advance.

“The split between our two and three (runners) will need to get tightened up,” Clarey said. “28 seconds is too much.”

However, it’s not the first time the battle-tested seniors have been entered in the historically tough sectional.

“Given the course we’re heading to, we’re confident that the seniors of this team will use their experiences to help tighten things up even more,” Clarey said.

The sectional is just as tough in 2013, with six of the top 25 teams in Class 2A represented in the field. No. 3 Vernon Hills is the favorite, but might be challenged by No. 6 Crystal Lake Central and No. 7 Dixon. No. 12 Sterling, No. 19 Belvidere North and No. 25 Kaneland will battle for the final two spots. The Knights defeated Sterling as recently as two weeks ago at the NIB-12 conference meet.

Boys XC battles health, competition

FREEPORT, Ill.—Being shorthanded may be a problem for other squads, but not the Knights boys cross country team.

Competing Saturday at the Freeport Pretzel Invitational without their top two runners this season in Nathaniel Kucera and Ryan Bower, the Knights still placed second in the 10-team field.

Winnebago ran tough, placing their scoring five all in the top 13 of the race to run away with the team title with 45 points. Kaneland was next with 78, followed by Rock Falls’ 108, Boylan’s 111 and Jefferson’s 123.

For coach Chad Clarey, it’s all about the packs for his group, and for a second week in a row, the Knights were running together throughout the field.

“Our team continues to do a nice job of packing up, finishing in groups,” Clarey said. “Our top three raced within 10 seconds of each other, and our fifth through seventh also split seven seconds between one another.”

Kyle Carter, who has been progressing since he began running again a little over two weeks ago, led KHS with a 10th place finish with a time of 16 minutes, 2 seconds. Carter was the top Knight a year ago.

“He is battling and taking small victories on this road to full strength,” Clarey said of Carter.

Luis Acosta had a break through race, finishing 11th, and just five seconds behind Carter. Andrew Lesak was the third Knight to finish, placing 15th in 16:12.

Brandon Park ran aggressive, placing 20th overall with a time of 16:46.

Then another KHS pack of Brock Robertson (25th, 17:03), Phil Cutsinger (27th, 17:06) and Mitch Reger (28th, 17:10) finished in a cluster.

Clarey was pleased with Robertson, a senior in his first year on the cross country team, performed.

“(He) finished as our No. 5 today, and he really pushed himself hard through the first 1.5 miles to establish that position,” Clarey said. “He has shown strong improvement these past four weeks.”

Dylan Kuipers (42nd, 17:42), Jimmy Walker (48th, 18:08), Phil Rawers (86th, 21:23) and Connor Pennington (88th, 21:40) also competed for the Knights.

With conference looming, the Knight harriers headed to the Byron Invitational Wednesday (results not available before press time) before the head west to their annual stop at the Sterling Invitational Saturday.

“We will hopefully be back at full strength and depth at conference (Oct. 19 at Morris),” Clarey said. “In the meantime, we work to get healthy, freshen up, and keep pushing that pack further toward the front of the field.”

Clarey is optimistic about his team as they head into the home stretch of the season.

“It’s tough to be patient, but we feel good about where we are headed with such a tight-knit pack,” he said.

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Come together

Boys CC packs it up at ACC
AURORA—A change of format at the Charger Classic, hosted by Aurora Central Catholic at Oakhurst Forest Preserve in Aurora, saw the Kaneland boys cross country team in the gold, larger-schools division of the annual event. The gold division not only included four ranked teams in 2A or 3A in Dyestat’s weekly poll, but a strong Trinity team from Kentucky and Linn-Marr from Ohio.

Kaneland placed 11th with 251 points, just seven behind neighbor Burlington Central. Trinity won the meet with a scant 63 points, followed by Linn-Marr’s 81 and local Batavia’s 101.

Although finishing in the middle of the field, KHS head coach Chad Clarey was pleased with his group’s efforts.

“Our team continues to build some momentum, this week with a very solid pack split of just 24 seconds (from first to fifth runners),” he said. “Brandon Park capped a 40-second pack split from 1-7.”

Leading the way with a tremendous final kick to the finish, Nathaniel Kucera ran a 15:52 to place 40th overall. He was followed closely by Ryan Bower’s 15:54, which was good for 44th.

Luis Acosta (57th, 16:12) led the next three Knights, who were separated by only four seconds, which included Andrew Lesak (59th, 16:15) and a recuperating Kyle Carter (60th, 16:16).

“There’s a big ‘up’ side to this team,” Clarey said. “The way they feed off of one another within the race bodes well for our future in the post season.”

Phil Cutsinger and Park were neck-and-neck with each other, placing 73rd and 74th with times of 16:31 and 16:32, respectively.

The Knights also had three more competitors in the varsity race, with Mitch Reger (91st, 17:04), Brock Robertsen (94th, 17:13) and Dylan Kuipers (108th, 17:33) all contributing.

“We had a great team day, and look forward to getting healthier, faster and stronger team results as the season winds down and we head to October,” Clarey said.

Courtesy photo by Andrew Franklin: Andrew Lesak

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Knights solid at First to the Finish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A running start

ELBURN—A short-handed Kaneland boys cross country team fell just short of a season-opening win.

In their first taste of competition for the 2013 season, the Knights harriers were edged by visiting Wheaton Academy 27-30. West Chicago placed third in the four-team meet with 100 points, while Hinckley-Big Rock did not field a full team.

Expected front-runner Kyle Carter wasn’t in the lineup for the Knights.

KHS was led by Nathaniel Kucera and Ryan Bower, as both battled up front with eventual winner Noah Van Dyke of Wheaton Academy over the three-mile course. In the end, Van Dyke opened a 14-second cushion on Kucera, who placed second with a time of 17 minutes, 15 seconds, while Bower was third in 17:21.

“Nathaniel Kucera and Ryan Bower were in the neighborhood of their course records from last year,” head coach Chad Clarey said. “I think they could use the home course to their advantage a little more, and we know how to help them do it.”

Luis Acosta used a fierce kick to place fourth for the Knights in 17:28, but then a wave of Wheaton Academy maroon came across the line to take places 5-9, sealing the win for the Warriors. Junior Adam Lesak placed 10th with a time of 18:04, while senior Phil Cutsinger placed 11th in 18:53.

“We like seeing Lesak less than 45 seconds from our leaders,” Clarey said. “Phil Cutsinger rallied as our No. 5 and capped off our scoring.”

The Knights run next Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at Elburn Woods in a triangular meet with East Aurora and Yorkville.
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Photo: Nathaniel Kucera led the Knights with a 2nd place finish, followed closely by Ryan Bower in 3rd, Tuesday night at Elburn Woods.
Photo by Ben Draper

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

BXC

2013 Boys CC Preview: Stride right

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Modified lineup takes Byron Handicap meet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.