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2014 Boys Cross Country Preview: Boys XC always in the running

in Boys Cross Country by
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The 2014 Kaneland boys cross country team kicked off their season the morning of Aug. 13 at the Great Western Trail just north of Virgil. The team has qualified for state five out of the last six years, placing eighth in 2008, fifth in 2009, 15th in 2011, 13th in 2012 and 22nd in 2013. Photo by Patti Wilk

Harriers in no hurry to let up in 2014

KANELAND—They know the courses, they know the challenges, they know the drill.

It’s on the Kaneland High School boys cross country team members themselves to make sure every potential rival in the area knows them.

With the Chad Clarey-coached roster well-versed on how to approach and attack each season, 2014 remains no different, especially with such key losses to the varsity group that put together a 13th-place finish in 2012 and a 22nd-place finish last year down in Peoria, Ill.

“We learned a great deal in the past two years with qualifying for the State Finals,” Clarey said. “Actually, we’ve qualified five of the last six years out of arguably the toughest Sectional in Class 2A. We learned a lot about leadership in that 2012 season, and what works well for this program. That team wound up with the fastest team time in school history. Our 2013 team needed a stellar performance to make it out of our deep Sectional once again. They put everything they had into that race and wound up with a 34-second pack split, and qualified as the fourth team out. Our performance at State was not what we expected, and while we feel we had another top 15 team, sometimes things just snowball, and we just didn’t have our best races.”

The losses of such star personnel like Nathaniel Kucera, Kyle Carter, Ryan Bower and Luis Acosta are just part of the gig every season.

“That experience made a big difference for the team’s success,” Clarey said. “For the seniors, that sour note from the ending at the cross country finals became sweet motivation for their track campaign, which ended with a state trophy. Sometimes you need to fail at something to realize how hard you need to work to stay on top. We cannot replace the experience that those runners brought to the team. Not yet.”

A new rotation will have the hope of season-wide progression, but it may take some time. Hoping to solidify the Knight ranks on the Elburn Woods course in 2014 are athletes like Andrew Lesak (who’s still on the road back to 100 percent health from track), Sean Spaetzel, Brandon Park, James Walker and Mitch Reger. Kaneland also benefits from a transfer from Texas, Jared Murri.

“(Murri’s) been right up with the pack through the first week’s worth of work, and we look forward to seeing him in a checkerboard jersey. (Lesak, Spaetzel, Park) figure to be in the top 7 mix through much of the season,” Clarey said.

Members of Kaneland cross country looking to get a real shot at varsity time in 2014 include Will Kuipers, Alex Gale, Aaron French and Kyle Osborne.

Clarey is intrigued by the potential gains made by Walker and Reger, given the chance to shine on the courses.

“Walker was injured for much of last fall and never really got the chance to show what he could do. He’s a tremendous leader on the team this year, and he’s worked so hard this summer for his final season. Mitch is in that same boat. He’s not a real vocal leader, but he absolutely knows what he wants to get out of his running, and he works as hard as any senior we have,” Clarey said.

Dealing with a slightly modified conference in 2014 yields the same goals and wishes, i.e., keep up with Yorkville.

“The Yorkville Foxes continue to crank out big numbers in their program, and will look to repeat as conference champions,” Clarey said. “I doubt there is a team in our league this year that can break up what they have. If we can pull together, stay healthy, get some good experiences and confidence, then I think we could have a shot at finishing in the top 3. We see Dekalb, Sycamore, Sterling and Geneseo as prominent teams vying for that same distinction.”

On Tuesday, Sept. 2, the season begins with a trip to Sycamore. The Eddington Invitational is at Kaneland High School on Saturday, Sept. 20.

Joy Division: Knight athletes know what they’ve signed up for at D-I peak

in Boys Cross Country/Boys Track/Football/Girls Track/Softball/Sports by
Lexi Roach

KANELAND—High school athletes’ talent can bring them amazing things: wins, titles and even the chance to keep playing the sport they love.

With powerhouses like senior Joe Komel, future Central Michigan University Chippewa, it also brings certainty.

“I think every kid wants to ideally compete at that next level,” Komel said.

That’s echoed by speedster classmate Kyle Carter.

“I just knew I wanted to go to the next level and I knew I didn’t want to stop,” Carter said.

Last month, 13 Kaneland High School athletes participated in National Signing Day, with several athletes signing letters of intent with Division I schools.

For a speedster like Brandon Bishop, who signed as a preferred walk-on at the University of Iowa, he’s aware of the unique task and slot that awaits him on the gridiron.

“I just look at it as I get to do a sport that I love to play. I don’t look at it as a job,” Bishop said.

One of six Knight football players that signed to play with various levels of college programs, Bishop doesn’t know how big of a role he’ll have as part of the Hawkeye program, but will take what comes.

“Any level of college football is big time,” Bishop said. “I was originally with a D-II school, but once you experience a Big 10 program, you dream about that stuff. It’s a big-time mentality there.”

Bishop was also present at a Hawkeyes practice when the squad was practicing for the Outback Bowl in Tampa, that resulted in a 21-14 loss on New Year’s Day to LSU.

“It’s an eye-opener, and I was fortunate to see it,” Bishop said. “They have great facilities in the Big 10.”

Bishop, who wishes to major in social work and possibly be a position coach, is no stranger to the work as a gridiron and track standout.

“It just matters that I compete. I believe in myself to play at that level,” Bishop said.

Bishop joined fellow Knight football gladiators Justin Diddell (Indiana State), Gary Koehring (St. Cloud State), Komel (Central Michigan), Dylan Nauert (St. Cloud State) and Tyler Slamans (Western Illinois) in the Class of 2018 football group.

Komel joins a Mid-American Conference outfit that also boasts former Knight offensive threat Blake Serpa.

“Blake is good friends with my older brother, Sam, and he was able to help me meet with officials from the football program. I had been looking at MAC and Missouri schools,” Komel said.

Komel, part of the solid offensive line that yielded three consecutive Northern Illinois Big XII championships, feels the success at KHS helped buoy him and his chances at the top collegiate level.

“When CMU talked with me, they told me that I came from a program that knows how to win, and that’s what a lot of those schools are looking for,” Komel said. “Kaneland prepared me for that and they know how to win.”

The spring season action in the higher collegiate ranks look to highlight Sydney Strang (Indiana-Purdue at Fort Wayne) and Carter (Southern Illinois), who are joined by Nathaniel Kucera, who recently committed to Stanford track.

Kucera’s options opened up after receiving a packet from universities following the June Midwest Distance Festival at Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill.

“Things really opened up for me after that,” Kucera said. “I would have competed at any level after high school, Division III, whatever, but I jumped at the chance.”

Kucera, who’s a verbal commitment to the Pac-12 Conference school, visited the Palo Alto, Ca., institution in the fall.

“It was a surreal moment whenever you get out there. They are such high-caliber athletes, but I was able to talk to everyone on the team. There’s no big egos there,” Kucera said.

The senior looks to be taking a different path than his fellow classmates, all the way to the west coast.

“The first time I got there, it was mindblowing and not something I pictured. It’s a really beautiful city,” Kucera said.

Carter, who’s excelled at cross country and track for his four years as a State qualifier, always had a continuation of his gifts in mind.

“I was getting contacted by D1 schools. I think going to State multiple times and being the best in the NIB-12 prepared me,” Carter said.

Strang, headed to Division 1-AA territory, echoes her distance counterpart.

“I’m glad to move on,” Strang said. “Running is such a part of me. I have so much passion for it. My teammates and (coach Doug) Ecker helped me through it all and help keep that. I just want to continue getting better and keep my love for it.”

Commonplace among the Knight athletes that get picked is a flexibility that comes with the wide-eyed enthusiasm.

“I’ll be able to go anywhere, and wherever they need me next year,” Carter said. “I just want to compete with the best.”

Kaneland’s presence of Division I athletes, which includes the trio of Lanie Callaghan (Valparaiso), Lexi Roach (Youngstown State) and Lauren Zick (St. John’s) that committed to D-I softball outfits in late 2013, not only have the athletic talent, but also seem to know what to expect.

For those that have seen the group in action, that comes as no surprise.

Knight boys show tough State of mind

in Boys Cross Country/Local News by
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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

32 Knights earn NIB-12 honors

in Boys Cross Country/Boys Soccer/Football/Girls Cross Country/Golf/Tennis/Volleyball by
nib12

KANELAND—Kaneland High School announced its fall all-conference athletic honorees Tuesday. In all, 32 Knight athletes were honored by the Northern Illinois Big XII.

• Cross Country
Boys: Luis Acosta, Kyle Carter, Nathaniel Kucera and Andrew Lesak
Girls: Brianna Bower, Erika Carlson, Victoria Clinton, Aislinn Lodwig and Sydney Strang

• Golf: Matt Yonkovich and Brody Kuhar

• Football: Brandon Bishop, Drew David, Cole Carlson, Justin Diddell, Gary Koehring, Joe Komel, Dylan Nauert, Jaumaureo Phillips, John Pruett and Alex Snyder

• Soccer: Arsim Azemi, Anthony Parillo, Tyler Siebert and Chris VanDinther

• Tennis: Jelly Emmanouil, Madi Jurcenko, Stephanie Karolewicz, Colleen Landers and Sammie Schrepferman

• Volleyball: Ellie Dunn and Jenny Lubic

Kaneland takes care of sectional challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seniors lead way to Sectional

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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.

Taking on the field

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Photo: Junior Brandon Park was the Knights sixth man on Saturday at the NIB-12 championships, placing 26th with a time of 16:16.8. Kaneland placed third in the meet. Photo by Ben Draper

Third-place Knight boys cross take on field at Morris for NIB-12
MORRIS—Kaneland boys cross country personnel has never needed prodding when it’s time to get serious.

That was helpful when dealing with the talented stock at the Northern Illinois Big XII meet at Morris on Saturday.

With 36 points, the Yorkville High School outfit took the conference mantle, followed by Dixon’s 48-point total, but Kaneland made a decent third-place showing with 78 points. In fourth place was Sterling with 92, and Sycamore in fifth at 111.

Yorkville’s twin tandem of juniors Jake and Luke Hoffert took the top two spots in the race with times of 14:40.1 and 14:45.2, respectively.

The Knights’s top finishers were all-conference reps Kyle Carter, senior, with a time of 15:35.8, and classmate Nathaniel Kucera in 10th place at 15:39.3. Junior Adam Lesak was 16th at 15:52.9, and senior Luis Acosta placed 21st. Both Lesak and Acosta earned all conference as well.

“Starting off, the course is right into the wind. Usually running into the wind slows you down, but we had the beginning energy to push us through that. You just have to move your legs at the end, and it carries you through,” Lesak said.

Senior Ryan Bower finished in 23rd at 16:05.5 to close out the KHS scoring.

On tap for the boys is the Class 2A Burlington Central Regional on Saturday, Oct. 26, at 11 a.m., with the exemplary teams making it to the Belvidere Sectional.

Stopping by Byron

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boys XC battles health, competition

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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.

Come together

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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

KHS boys secure 6th at Eddington

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knights solid at First to the Finish

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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.

A running start

in Boys Cross Country by
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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

Photo Gallery: 2013 Knights Under the Lights

in Boys Cross Country/Boys Soccer/Football/Girls Cross Country/Golf/Kaneland/Tennis/Volleyball by
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Photos from Thursday, Aug. 22.

2013 Boys CC Preview: Stride right

in Boys Cross Country by
BXC

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.

Boys CC hosts baggo tournament fundraiser

in Boys Cross Country by

Sugar Grove—The Kaneland boys cross country team will host its inaugural Baggo Tournament Sunday, Aug. 25, at Kaneland Harter Middle School.

Entry fees for two-person teams are $20 per team for the high school and under division, and $40 per team for the adult (18-and-over, post-high school) division. The high school division begins at noon, and the adult division begins at 1:30 p.m. Entry deadline is Aug. 24. A limited amount of “day of” entries will be available.

Proceeds will help the boys cross country team purchase new meet warmups, and portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Marklund Home for disabled adults in Geneva.

To register or for more information, email kanelandxc@gmail.com.

Kaneland Foundation hosts cross country race

in Boys Cross Country/Girls Cross Country/Kaneland by

Kaneland—The Kaneland Foundation will host its 2nd annual 5k Cross Country Race on Friday, June 21, at 8 p.m. at the Kaneland High School campus/football stadium, 47W326 Keslinger Road, Maple Park. There will also be a 1/4-mile Kids Track Run at 7 p.m. and a 1-Mile Cross Country Fun Run/Walk at 7:30 p.m.

The 5k and 1-Mile runs will cover a flat cross country course entirely on the Kaneland campus.

Racers will finish on the Kaneland track for a spectator-friendly and exciting event. The 5K will be timed, and awards will be offered in age groups and overall categories. Prizes will be awarded to the top three overall male and female finishers in the following age groups for the 5K Cross Country Race: 14 and under, 15-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-65, 65 and over.

All runners will receive a T-shirt for participating, provided they are registered by Saturday, June 15.

Packet pick-up begins at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, June 21, near the track at the Kaneland High School campus.

Schedule of Events
7 p.m.: 1/4-Mile Kids Track Run—$5 registration fee, signed waiver must be on file.
7:30 p.m.: 1-Mile Fun Run/Walk—$10 registration fee; signed waiver must be on file.
8 p.m.: 5k Cross Country Race—$20 registration fee; signed waiver must be on file.

Download the race applications from www.kaneland.org, or register and pay online from the website on the Webstore (click on Kaneland Foundation). For more information, please call (630) 365-8295 or email beth.sterkel@kaneland.org. To mail in forms and money, please address it to: Beth Sterkel, Kaneland Foundation, 47W326 Keslinger Road, Maple Park, IL 60151.

KHS fall sports announce awards

in Boys Cross Country/Boys Soccer/Football/Girls Cross Country/Golf/Volleyball by

Kaneland—The Kaneland High School fall sports programs recently concluded their respective awards nights.

Cross Country—Boys
• Most Valuable Runner: Kyle Carter, Conor Johnson
• Most Improved Runner: Nathaniel Kucera
• Larry Eddington Award for Courage, Leadership and Strength—Nick Messina
• Captains—Kyle Carter, Conor Johnson, Brad Kigyos
• Golden Knight Award—Freshman: Kyle Osborne; Sophomore: Andrew Lesak; Junior: Ryan Bower; Senior: Gus Stott
• State Qualifiers—Kyle Carter, Conor Johnson, Nathaniel Kucera, John Meisinger, Ryan Bower, Brandon Huber, Ryan Paulson, Luis Acosta
• All Conference—Kyle Carter

Cross Country—Girls
• Captains—Abby Dodis, Maggie Brundige, Ashley Castellanos
• Most Improved Runner—Jessica Kucera, Sydney Strang
• Most Valuable Runner—Victoria Clinton
• All Conference—Victoria Clinton, Brianna Bower, Abby Dodis, Sydney Strang, Amanda Lesak
• State Qualifiers—Victoria Clinton, Aislinn Lodwig, Sydney Strang, Abby Dodis, Ashley Castellanos, Maggie Brundige, Amanda Lesak, Brianna Bower
• All State, State Champion—Victoria Clinton

Football
• Captains—Blake Bradford, Ryan Lawrence, Dan Goress, Kory Harner, Nick Sharp
• Most Improved Player—Bradley Johnson
• Most Valuable Player—Blake Bradford
• Offensive MVP—Zach Martinelli
• Defensive MVP—Gary Koehring
• Special Teams MVP—Matt Rodriguez
• NIB XII All Conference—Zach Theis, Nick Sharpe, Alex Snyder, Zach Martinelli, Jesse Balluff, Drew David, Justin Diddell, Jaumaureo Phillips, Blake Bradford, Kory Harner, Gary Koehring, Ryan Lawrence, Matt Rodriguez

Golf
• Varsity Most Improved Player—Jessy Denton
• Varsity MVP—Matt Yonkovich
• Fresh/Soph MVP—Jeremy Faletto
• Fresh/Soph Most Improved Player—Tori Guyton, C.J. Wehrmann
• All Conference—Matt Yonkovich, Connor Williams, Brody Kuhar, Luke Kreiter
• State Qualifiers—Connor Williams, Luke Kreiter, Matt Yonkovick, Brody Kuhar, Dan Miller, Sean Glennon

Soccer
• Captains—Alex Gil, Anthony Parillo, Marshall Farthing, Sam Rymarz, Alec Koczka, Ivan Bohorquez
• Most Improved Player—Jason Biddle, Marshall Farthing
• Most Valuable Player—Alex Gil, Anthony Parillo
• Rookie of the Year—Ivan Bohorquez
• Coach’s Award—Tyler Siebert, Alec Koczka, Chris Van Dinther, J.T. Karr
• Offensive Player of the Year—Anthony Parillo
• Defensive Player of the Year—Sam Rymarz
• Player of the Year—Anthony Parillo
• All Conference—Marshall Farthing, Alex Gil, Anthony Parillo, Alec Koczka, Sam Rymarz
• All Conference-Honorable Mention—Arsim Azemi
• All Sectional-Honorable Mention—Arsim Azemi
• All Sectional—Alex Gil, Marshall Farthing
• All State—Anthony Parillo

Tennis
• Team Spirit Awards—Varsity: Jess Woodward; JV: Katelyn Blaszynski
• Most Improved Awards—Varsity: Colleen Landers; JV: Mallory Dugan
• MVP—Sarah Grams, Stephanie Zwick
• Outstanding Achievement Awards—School Record: 38 wins—Madison Jurcenko, Angelica Emmanouil; 1st Singles player to qualify for the State Tournament—Samantha Schrepferman
• State Qualifiers—Madison Jurcenko, Angelica Emmanouil, Samantha Schrepferman
• All Conference—Madison Jurcenko, Angelica Emmanouil, Samantha Schrepferman, Sarah Grams

Volleyball
• Most Improved Player—Emily Laudont, Keri Groen
• Spirit Award—Rachael Clinton
• MVP—Jenny Lubic
• Top Offensive Player—Ellie Dunn
• Top Defensive Player—Shayna Tucek
• All Conference—Ellie Dunn, Lauren Banbury

KHS fall athletes earn accolades

in Boys Cross Country/Featured/Football/Girls Cross Country/Golf/Volleyball by

Kaneland—A number of Kaneland High School fall athletes were recognized for their performance from throughout the 2012 season.

Leading the way for Kaneland’s post-season honors was senior offensive lineman Zach Theis. He was named to the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association All-State Team, was the NIB-12 East Division Offensive MVP and All-Conference.

Joining Theis as Kaneland football All-Conference Team members were senior offensive lineman Nick Sharp, junior offensive lineman Alex Snyder, senior wide receiver Zack Martinelli, junior running back Jesse Balluff, junior quarterback Drew David, junior defensive lineman Justin Diddell, junior defensive lineman Jaumaureo Phillips, senior defensive back Blake Bradford, senior defensive back Kory Harner, junior linebacker Gary Koehring, senior linebacker Ryan Lawrence, and junior kicker Matt Rodriguez. Balluff was also an All-State Honorable Mention. Balluff, David, Snyder and Koehring were each named to the All State Academic Team.

Earning All-Conference honors from the Kaneland High School volleyball team were sophomore Ellie Dunn, senior Lauren Banbury and senior Ashley Prost.

Girls cross country All-Conference honors went to sophomore Victoria Clinton, freshman Brianna Bower, senior Abby Dodis, junior Sydney Strang, and senior Amanda Lesak.

Junior Kyle Carter earned All-Conference distinction for boys cross country.

All-Conference golf team members were juniors Matt Yonkovick and Brody Kuhar, and seniors Luke Kreiter and Connor Williams.

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