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Girls track hosts Jenni’s ABC, deals with Ottawa version of event

in Girls Track by

Photo: Freshman Maddie Keifer (right) jumped 31-0.25 feet Tuesday in the triple jump. Senior Christina Delach (below) vaulted 10-09 in the pole vault. Photos by Mary Paulson

ABC meets test program depth

KANELAND—An April tradition, Jenni’s ABC meet is a chance to showcase what Kaneland girls track offers.

With a third-place finish at its own meet on Saturday, KHS also saw Huntley and Boylan Catholic’s best, as well.

Huntley’s 317 and Boylan’s 310’s bested the KHS total of 302. Rock Falls finished with 185 points and Lemont’s Mt. Assisi Academy’s 74.

Last Thursday in Ottawa, the Lady Knights traveled to the ABC Invite in Northern Illinois Big XII West division territory and took home a second with 255 points. Dunlap was second with 267 of its own.

On Tuesday, Kaneland also hosted Yorkville in a dual, losing to the Foxes 80-65.

On Saturday, with the athletes placed in “A” “B” and “C” tiers according to projected ability, KHS racked up the honors.

In the 100 meter dash C, it was Lauren Zick taking the event at 13.06 seconds, followed by capable freshman Nicole Sreenan at 13.27 for second.

Allie Heinzer won the 400m dash B with a time of 1:00.55, while the 4x100m relay B beat Huntley with a time of 50.63.

The field events saw Sydney Davidson finish second in the high jump A with a mark of 4-feet, 8-inches, and teammate Christina Delach took the pole vault B at 10 feet.

Zick came back again and impressed in the long jump C thanks to a 16-02.
In the shot put B, Elle Tattoni (33-11.5) and Brittany Kemp (30-11) took the top two spots, while the discus was taken by Tattoni at 110-11.

In Ottawa, the Dunlap-Kaneland duo was followed up by Huntley (237), Burlington Central (195) and Oregon (133.5) to fill out the exceptional tier of the eight squads.

Kemp had a second-place effort for the shot put B with a 30-9.5, while Tattoni took second in the A flight at 34-09. Kemp took the entire field in the discus throw C with a first place 84-01 effort, while teammate Marina Schaefer took second in the discus B at 77-09. In the A discus, Tattoni had a 92-03 for second place.

The pole vault C had Davidson’s 7-footer as enough to beat the field, while Delach won the A pole vault at 10-06.

Zick managed a 17-02 in the long jump A for the win in her challenge.

Relay action saw Kaneland’s 4x800m A try of Becca Richman, Aislinn Lodwig, Noelle Espino and Jessica Kucera finish second at 10:21.81, and the 4x100m A foursome of Carly Elliott, Heinzer, Zick and Sreenan win at 50.64.

Erika Carlson took the 3,200m run C for distance glory at 12:46.78, while Brianna Bower took second in the 3,200m run A at 11:26.19.

Rachel Steinmiller took first in the 100m hurdles C at 17.72, while Sreenan won the 100m Dash A at 13.25.

Richman won her 800m run B challenge with a 2:30.85, and Sreenan took the 400m dash A at 59.12. Jessie Weber managed a 54.14 for a 300m hurdles C win.

Other distance trials had Anna Piazza take the 1,600m run C at 5:59.02, while Bower finished second in the 1,600m run A at 5:30.28.

In the 200m dash section, it was Elliott win the B flight at 28.13, while Zick had a 26.72 try for first in A.

The 4x400m relay A unit of Olivia Galor, Sreenan, Heinzer and Sydney Strang won the race at 4:09.01 to close the Saturday accolades.

Against the Lady Foxes Tuesday, KHS got event wins from Rachel Steinmiller in the 100m hurdles, Zick in the long jump and 200m, Sreenan in the 100m and 400m and Jessica Weber in the 300m hurdles.

On Friday, April 25, Kaneland treks to Wauconda for the Wauconda Invitational.

Triple jump

in Boys Track/Girls Track/Kaneland by

April always time for KHS track atmosphere to shine
KANELAND—KHS track always seems to rise to the occasion, no matter the location.

For the month of April, the chance to rise, and go a little farther happens in a setting that has been home to top-of-the-class track competition.

For a handful of years, the Jill Holmes Invite, Jenni’s ABC Invite and the Peterson Prep have occupied three Saturdays in April, giving the best Kaneland and its invitees have to offer.

Renamed in 2001 for the Kaneland Hall of Fame member and former athletics director of the school, the Jill Holmes Invite has seen KHS girls track athletes shine since 1979.

Jenni’s ABC Meet—done in tiered “A,” “B” and “C” levels according to ability—is held in memory of former KHS athlete and cross country captain Jenni Kirwan, who died in a car accident in September of 1998.

The Peterson Prep, capping off the whirlwind track tour, yields the best boys track has to offer from Kaneland and others, and has a chance to do it again in its 45th year. The showcase, named after Bruce Peterson and recognizing his four-decade body of work as coach and AD, allows Kaneland to win consecutive Prep showcases.

“I think the meets offer solid competition and I think teams know when they come to any of those three meets, that it’ll be efficiently run,” interim AD Ralph Drendel said.

The month makes for a busy time on the organization end, but worth it.

“The Jill Holmes Invite offers great competition, Jenni’s ABC meet celebrates a young lady taken away too soon, and the Peterson Prep gets great teams up and down the Fox River Valley and has pretty good competition, and they know it’ll run smooth,” Drendel said.

The Peterson Prep, which housed 18 teams last year and saw KHS nab three of four relay events en route to a team trophy, offers KHS head coach Eric Baron a showcase.

“The Peterson meet has had some amazing talent over the years,” Baron said. “We take great pride in putting on a meet that shows respect to the talent of that meet. Bruce Peterson and Ralph Drendel set the bar very high for hosting quality meets that are set up for the athletes to perform well at. I try my best to continue that level of meet.”

With the Holmes invite history for another year, a level of greatness has made its way through the lanes, as eight of the meet records still standing were set by IHSA State champions.

It’s cause for a level of pride for the girls track program.

“Hosting a meet gives parents, relatives, friends a chance to see the KHS athletes compete without traveling,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “We have a tradition here at KHS of hosting quality meets with very good competition, The Holmes has been going on for 40 years, one of the oldest girls invitational meets in the state. Some of the best track & field athletes in the state have competed in this meet through the years.”

The Peterson Prep’s starting gun goes off on Saturday, April 26, at 10 a.m.

Second best

in Girls Track by
4x100 Nicole Sreenan

Photo: Freshman Nicole Sreenan has transitioned well in her first year at KHS, winning the 100m and 400m dashes Saturday, and also taking part in the champion 4x100m relay for Kaneland. Photo by Mary Paulson

Kaneland girls track has great day, but Hononegah takes Holmes
KANELAND—Saturday’s usual mid-April staple, the Jill Holmes Invitational, yielded plenty of great girls track efforts.

KHS just wishes one of the opposing teams didn’t have it in them.

It was only Rockton’s Hononegah, with 144.25 points, that eclipsed the capable Lady Knights roster, which had 133.25 points tallied.

Rosary (94.75), DeKalb (77) and Burlington Central (74.75) rounded out the top five. Sycamore (67), Dixon (51) and Rockford East (30) took the sixth, seventh and eighth spots, respectively, while Dundee-Crown (20) and Rockford Jefferson (10) rounded out the field.

In the 100m dash finals, it was rising freshman Nicole Sreenan, with a time of 12.79, that was crowned queen of the event. Classmate Carly Elliott took sixth with a 13.79 effort.

In the 200m dash, senior Lauren Zick aced her final Holmes Invite challenge with a 26.14-second effort for first place in the finals, and sophomore Allie Heinzer took fourth at 27.31.

“We’re definitely feeling good, the weather is great,” Zick said. “We’re really excited about that. We’ve been really working hard this week to specialize things. We also worked on relays that we’re running today. We’re basically injury-free, and that’s really nice.”

Teammate Heinzer is also taking the good atmosphere and circumstances to heart.

“My coach always says to just beat the first 100 so you can save enough energy for the rest of the race,” Heinzer said. “It’s exciting so far, and the energy is building up my confidence.”

The 400m dash was taken by Sreenan with a 59.31 effort.

In the 800m run, freshman Becca Richtman, with an effort of 2:32.78, took second overall. The 1600m run featured Brianna Bower’s 5:39.40 effort for fifth place, and her 11:52.01 third place in the 3200m run.

The 100m hurdles finals had Kyla Goodine in fifth (17.60), Taylor Eaves in seventh (17.75) and Rachel Steinmiller in eighth (17.84).

The 300m hurdles sweepstakes had Eaves take seventh in the finals (54.35).

In relay action, the Lady Knights took the 4x100m with a time of 49.48, the 4x200m at 1:48.81, finished fourth in the 4x400m at 4:31.51 and third in the 4x800m event at 10:30.61.

Field events also saw a degree of success, with Maddie Keifer finishing fifth in her first-ever Holmes meeting with an effort of four feet, 10 inches, and teammate Sydney Davidson taking eighth at 4’ 8”. Davidson also took eighth in the pole vault at 7’.

The long jump saw Zick battle through a stacked event to take third at 17’ 6”.

Going into the finals, Zick was liking her odds after breaking into the elite group.

“I felt pretty good,” Zick said. “The wind was definitely a factor in everyone’s jumps. We were talking about it at the end of the runway.”

Triple jump action had Keifer strike again at 32’ 8”, for fourth place.

Throws for KHS were highlighted by Elle Tattoni’s third in the shot put with a heave of 33’ 9.5”, and Brittany Kemp in fourth (31’). Tattoni also took second in the discus at 112’ 1”.

On Thursday, April 17, Kaneland heads to the Ottawa ABC Invitational, and hosts Jenni’s ABC Girls Track Meet on Saturday, April 19.

Rodriguez named NACC Athlete of week for track and field

in Girls Track/Hometown/Sugar Grove by
Screen shot 2014-04-17 at 9.28.33 AM

AURORA—Aurora University freshman Lisa Rodriguez of Sugar Grove was named the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Student-Athlete of the Week.

Rodriguez helped lead the Spartans to a second place finish at the Wheaton College Invitational April 5, winning the 200-meter dash (26.08 seconds), finishing third in the 100-meter (12.70) and participating in the winning 4×100 relay team (49.72). The times in the 200-meter dash and 4×100 relay set AU school records.

Lucky 13

in Girls Track by

Photo: Senior Kyla Goodine won the 100m Hurdles in 17.93 Tuesday. Photo by Mary Paulson

Outdoor opener nets 13 event wins for girls track and field
KANELAND—With favorable conditions compared to the majority of the spring thus far, the Lady Knights track and field team took advantage and coasted to an easy triangular win over visiting Oregon and Burlington Central.

KHS totaled 111 points, easily eclipsing BC’s 45 and Oregon’s 30.

Thirteen event wins highlighted the afternoon.

In the field events, Lauren Zick won the long jump with a 17 foot, 4 inch leap and Christina Delach put up a 10’ 3” Pole Vault to claim first.

On the track, Kyla Goodine won the 100m Hurdles in 17.93 seconds, while Nicole Sreenan won the 100m Dash in 12.97. Jessica Kucera won the 800m Run in 2:35.43, while Sydney Strang took the top spot in the 400m Dash with a 1:05.42. Taylor Eaves won the 300m Low Hurdles in 52.68. Brianna Bower won the 1600m Run in 5:30.64, and it was Zick again, this time winning the 200m Dash in 25.94.

In relay action, the Knights reigned supreme, sweeping all four events. The 4×800 led off the relay winning streak with a 10:39.03, while the 4×100 followed with a blistering 50.2, winning by almost 8 seconds. The 4x200m won with a 1:55.02, while the 4×400 notched a 4:11.9.

Saturday is a big day for the Lady Knights, as they host the Jill Holmes Invite at the Kaneland track starting at 10 a.m.

More KHS results from Tuesday: Pole Vault: Guerra (3rd, 7’6”) High Jump: Keifer (4th, 4’10”) Triple Jump: Keifer (2nd, 31’ 8.5”) Discus: Tattoni (2nd, 94’ 11”), Schafer (3rd, 86’ 4”) Shot Put: Tattoni (2nd, 34’ 6”), Kemp (4th, 32’ 6”) 100m Hurdle: Eaves (2nd, 18.04), Weber (3rd, 18.56) 100m Dash: Elliott (2nd, 13.48), Keinzer (3rd, 13.64), Spencer (4th, 13.83) 800m Run: Ritchman (2nd, 2:35.64), Lodwig (4th, 2:46.61) 400m: Bartholomew (3rd, 1:11.60) 300m Low Hurdle: Steinmiller (2nd, 55.44), Sanchez (3rd, 56.71) 1600m Run: Shaw (2nd, 6:18.05), Carlson (3rd, 6:19.96) 200m Dash: Sreenan (2nd, 26.36)

Lady Knights try to wow at Wesleyan

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill.—Illinois Prep Top Times meet action, held at the Shirk Center on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University, boasts the best the indoor track season has to offer.

You can include Kaneland girls track in that offering after performing admirably in the qualification-only setting.

“It is a meet that the kids always enjoy. As they always do, all the girls competed well,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said.

The Class AA 60m Dash featured finalist Lauren Zick, who finished sixth in the finals with a time of 7.93 second after a 7.87 effort in the prelims. The senior also managed a fifth place in the 200m Dash with a time of 26.16, .22 ahead of Mt. Vernon’s Charde Golliday.

Distance matters had Sydney Strang of KHS finish fifth with a time of 2:25.94 in the 800m Run, while younger classmate Brianna Bower took an eighth place in the 3200m Run thanks to an 11:47.46.

The 4x200m Relay squad of Olivia Galor, Nicole Sreenan, Zick and Carly Elliott ran a 1:46.76 for third place, and the Galor/Zick/Sreenan/Strang foursome took second with a time of 4:08.51 in the 4x400m Relay.

The field events saw Lady Knight Maddie Keifer manage a tie for 16th in the High Jump at four feet, eight inches. Teammate and State qualifier Christina Delach vaulted to a 9-06 in the Pole Vault for fifth in the standings.

Zick was at it again in the Long Jump, leaping to a 17-5.75 effort for third place.

An encouraging development, especially early on, is the performance of the lower-class tier.

“The freshman and sophomores continue to improve and gain confidence as they show that they can compete against very good competition,” Ecker said.

Outdoor track happenings begin in earnest out in Maple Park on Tuesday, April 8, with Burlington Central and Oregon invading at 4:30 p.m.

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.

An early jump

in Girls Track by

Photo: Sophomore Brianna Bower placed third in the 3200m run Saturday in Sterling, Ill., with a time of 12:00.28. Photo by Marshall Farthing

KHS girls track takes NIB-12 bragging rights in Sterling, Ill.
KANELAND—There’s only so much you can do to improve on a second place indoor conference meet finish from 2013.

That’s going straight to the top in 2014.

Kaneland girls track made an impact in Sterling, Ill., at the Westwood Sports Center at the Northern Illinois Big XII indoor conference meet on Saturday, and won the day with 108 team points. Yorkville took a close second with 102.

Sycamore was third with 76 points, followed by rival DeKalb with 56. Geneseo had 47 to round out the top five and lead the West division field. LaSalle-Peru had 23 team points, followed by Dixon with 21. Morris (18), Sterling (8) and Streator (6) rounded out the scoring teams.

Success came early and often for Lady Knights track, beginning in the 60m dash, thanks to Lauren Zick’s first-place 7.84-second time in her final indoor conference challenge. Teammate Nicole Sreenan finished third with an 8.01 time in her first conference gathering.

The Lady Knights (above) completed the meet sweep with the boys team Saturday in Sterling, Ill. Both teams won the titles at the NIB-12 Indoor Meet.  Photo courtesy of Keith Snyder
The Lady Knights (above) completed the meet sweep with the boys team Saturday in Sterling, Ill. Both teams won the titles at the NIB-12 Indoor Meet.
Photo courtesy of Keith Snyder
Zick got into the act again in 200m dash competition with a first-place 26.07, while Sreenan took third at 26.63. Sreenan’s classmate Carly Elliot won fourth at 27.83.

In the 400m Dash, Sreenan continued her torrid pace with a first-place effort of 1:00.05, while Lady Knight Allie Heinzer took third at 1:04.11.

In long-distance matters, Brianna Bower took third on 3200m turf with 12:00.28 effort.

The 4x200m relay was taken by KHS with a time of 1:50.91, besting Sycamore by 1.05., while Kaneland finished third in the 4x400m relay at 4:21.86, and fourth in the 4x800m at 10:29.69.

The field arena yielded more accolades for the Lady Knight troop, beginning with the Pole Vault crew of Christina Delach (10′ 0″) and Lexee Guerra (7′ 6″), who took the top two spots.

In Shot Put action, KHS competitor Elle Tattoni’s 34-9.25 was good for fourth.

The Lady Knights now travel to the Illinois Wesleyan’s Shirk Center Saturday for the Top Times 2A Meet Saturday morning before opeing up their outdoor season April 8 at home against Burlington Central and Oregon.

Knights qualify 23 to Top Times meet

in Boys Track/Girls Track by

Kaneland High School will be well-represented at this Saturday’s Illinois Top Times track meet at Illinois Wesleyan’s Shirt Center in Bloomington, Ill.

The meet kicks off at 9 a.m. Saturday morning, and will reportedly be broadcast at

For more information on the meet, visit For the meet program with seeds, click here.

Below is a list of the KHS qualifiers, plus where they rank in their events heading into the meet.

Boys Qualifiers Girls Qualifiers
• Long JumpBen Barnes 4th

Dalvell Triplett 7th

• Pole Vault

Dylan Kuipers 4th

Dan Evers 7th

• Shot Put

Nate Dyer 1st

Shane Jorgensen 11th

• Triple Jump

Dalvell Triplett 5th

• 3200m Run

Ryan Bower 18th

• 60m Hurdles

Dylan Nauert 13th

Brock Robertson 17th

• 4x800m Relay

Lesak, Acosta,

Carter, Kucera 2nd

• 4x200m Relay

Robertson, Bishop,

Cruz, Swithers 5th

• 4x400m Relay

Robertson, Acosta,

Carter, Kucera 2nd

• Long JumpLauren Zick 5th

• High Jump

Maddie Keifer 13th

• Pole Vault

Christina Delach 4th

• 3200m Run

Brianna Bower 6th

• 60m Dash

Lauren Zick 6th

Nicole Sreenan 10th

• 200m Dash

Lauren Zick 3rd

• 800m Run

Sydney Strang 11th

• 4x200m Relay

Galor, Sreenan,

Zick, Elliott 9th

• 4x400m Relay

Galor, Sreenan,

Richtman, Strang 6th

2014 Girls Track & Field Preview: Making their mark

in Girls Track by

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

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

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

KHS is hoping it’s no different in 2014.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Girls make strides in Hononegah

in Girls Track by

Photo: The Lady Knights track and field team secured fifth place in the 34-team Hononegah Classic Saturday. Photo by Ben Draper

ROCKTON, ILL.—A fifth-place finish is quite respectable, especially when it’s out of 34 teams.

The Lady Knights travelled north to Hononegah High School’s domed fieldhouse and came home with a lot of hardware.

In the team standings, Kaneland only trailed West Aurora (87), St. Charles East (76), Lakes (64.5) and Cary-Grove (52). Kaneland’s 50 points put them five ahead of Downers Grove South.

The KHS quartet of Nicole Sreenan, Lauren Zick, Becca Richtman and Allie Heinzer earned first place in the 4x400m relay, crusing to a 4 minutes, 14.94 time. That’s the fifth-fastest time in Class 2A so far this season in that event.

The 4x200m relay of Olivia Galor, Zick, Carly Elliott and Sreenan was edged at the line, placing second with a 1:52.22. Zick also placed second in the 200m dash with a 26.87.

In the 55m dash, it was Zick again, this time placing third with a 7.51, while Sreenan was sixth in 7.67.

Christina Delach was fourth in the pole vault with a leap of 9’ 6”.

Brianna Bower earned a fifth place in the 3200m with an 11:46.58 eight-lap tour of the track.

Allie Heinzer was sixth in the 400m dash (1:04.11) and the 4x800m relay of Sydney Strang, Richtman, Jessica Kucera and Aislinn Lodwig was also sixth with a 10:35.35.

The Lady Knights head to the Plainfield South Invitational Friday night at 5 p.m.

Lightning quick

in Community Sports/Girls Track/Kaneland/Softball by

Photo: Kaneland Knights fans know Lauren Zick: Track Athlete. But the senior has verbally committed to play softball for St. John’s University, located in Queens, N.Y. Speedy on the track as well as the basepaths, Zick plays softball for the New Lenox Lightning, and runs for the KHS track and field team in the spring. Courtesy of Mike Gombar

Kaneland’s Zick excels on diamond
KANELAND—Lauren Zick’s athletic career at Kaneland certainly has taken a unique path.

Zick verbally committed to play softball for St. John’s University last summer, yet the senior has never stepped into the batter’s box wearing a Knights’ uniform. Instead of circling the bases for Kaneland’s softball team in the spring, she circles the track for the Knights girls track and field squad as a sprinter and long jumper.

So, the question begs asking: You’re getting a full ride to St. John’s for softball, but you run track?

Well, Zick is quite a talented track athlete, too, having qualified for the state meet each of the past three years.

“She was running times that were state-qualifying times in high school as an eighth-grader,” said Keith Snyder, the Knights’ sprints and relays coach. “We (the Kaneland track and field coaches) held out hope she’d choose track, and luckily she did.”

Zick was being recruited to run track collegiately, but she’s had to inform recruiters that she’s agreed to attend St. John’s on a softball scholarship.

“I’ve had various schools show interest in me,” she said. “I’ve gotten letters and stuff. I’ve had to tell a few colleges that have given me calls that I’m committed to softball.”

In addition to loving track, Zick explains that the sport helps her hone her softball skills; specifically, improving her speed as a leadoff hitter, as well as her strength.

“Overall, I thought track would help me with softball with my speed and my start (out of the batter’s box),” she said. “My starts for a leadoff hitter weren’t as explosive. I’ve gained a lot of muscle and physical strength through track; we have a pretty rigorous lifting schedule and lift three to four times a week.”

However, it’s not as if she hasn’t considered suiting up and playing softball for the Knights.

“There’s always been the temptation,” she said. “Coaches talk to me every year, asking if I’d come out.”

Even though she doesn’t play for her high school team, Zick logs plenty of innings throughout the year as a leadoff hitter and center fielder with the New Lenox Lightning travel team. The Lightning’s summer schedule includes around 80 games. She’s currently in the final stretch of the club’s fall schedule, which is between 30 to 40 games. In fact, Zick and her teammates are heading to Orlando, Fla., for a fall showcase tournament that’s being held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

These types of tournaments are usually attended by many college coaches and scouts, Zick noted. Zick, who next summer will be part of the Lightning’s U18 Gold team, got the exposure to college coaches she needed by playing for the Lightning. The Lightning, she added, places 100 percent of their players who graduate from the program with college teams.

“I knew that since I didn’t play high school softball, I needed the exposure,” she said.

Zick’s coach with the Lightning contacted St. John’s because he knew they were looking for a girl in Zick’s graduating class (2014) to replace the team’s current center fielder—a senior who’ll be graduating next spring.

“It was beautiful,” Zick said of the campus at St. John’s, located in Queens, N.Y. “It’s completely different than Illinois. It’s a pretty area and I like how close it is to big city; it’s fun and there’s a lot to do.”

The coaching staff at St. John’s wants Zick to continue working on her skills as a slap hitter, which is an important part of the Red Storm’s game. Zick is a natural right-handed hitter who was converted to a left-handed slap hitter.

“I think the hardest challenge for me (making the switch) was seeing the ball from different angle,” she said. “You use the left eye for visualization from right side (as a right-handed hitter), and you use your right eye for visualization as a left-handed hitter. I still work on the visualization of it all.”

She talks to Red Strom coaches regularly as she prepares herself to join the team for their 2014 fall season.
“They’re checking in on me, asking what my stats are and what I’m working on,” Zick said. “They have a pretty quick lineup; all their outfielders are slappers. They basically told me as a freshman that I should expect to make an impact. There’s always going to be competition and your spot obviously is not guaranteed.

“It’s definitely going to be a lot of work. I can’t wait; I’m so excited to improve myself and play at the caliber level that I’m going to play at.”

But before you know it, it’ll be track season again. Snyder says the sky’s the limit for Zick in regard to what she could accomplish next spring.

“I would say that with her and the team, we have some pretty high hopes,” he said. “She has the potential to be all-state (in) anywhere up to four events. She has that kind of ability. The long jump and 200 (meter dash) are her favorite events. We’re going to look at the 100 and 400, or the 4×100 or 4×200. Whatever looks like the best chance to help out and get state medals.”

“I definitely want to be able to do well enough (in track),” Zick said, “so when I look back in the future, I can be proud of what I do while I did have the time competing in track.”

Photos: Flying through the air

in Boys Track/Girls Track/Kaneland by

Pole vaulters from around the district gathered the first three weeks of June for the annual Kaneland Pole Vault Camp. The camp began with two weeks of “free” vaulting, followed by the official camp, which was held last week. Thirty athletes took to the skies every evening, and some even participated in a meet held at Yorkville Saturday. Dan Evers takes a shot on a practice vault. Coach Drendel gives instruction in the background while vaulters wait their turn. Mitch Groen about to land after a practice vault. Dylan Kuipers prepares for a practice vault.

Late surge leads to Kucera win

in Boys Track/Girls Track by
Kucera — File Photo

Trio of KHS track athletes compete in elite meet; Kucera wins the 800-meter

KANELAND—Kaneland High School track state champion Nathaniel Kucera continued his dominating year by setting a school record in the 800m run on Saturday.

Kucera was one of three Kaneland High School track stars invited to the second annual Midwest Distance Festival on Saturday, held at Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill.

The Midwest Distance Festival, is an event geared to give student-athletes an opportunity to run against elite athletes from the region. Athletes must qualify for entry in the meet by achieving qualifying times during track meets this year.

Junior state champions Kyle Carter and Kucera both competed in the 800 meter run, and long-distance runner Victoria Clinton competed in the two-mile run.

One fourth of the Class 2A championship 4X800m relay squad, Kucera put on a burst in the final 200 meters of the run, weaving inside one runner and outside of another as he moved from fifth to the front. He crossed the line with a winning time of 1:51.33, .36 ahead of the second-place runner, Brad Johnson of Brookfield East, Wisc. Carter finished in 11th place, with a time of 1:55.31.

“Nathaniel and Kyle are both very confident. They knew the only expectation was to have fun and learn from the experience. Kucera had a huge break out. That broke the school record set by Ron Ackerman in 1975,” KHS track coach Eric Baron said.”Did I expect it? I’d say not yet, but the both of them are the best two middle runners I have ever coached or seen at this level.”

The video is available at, or at the bottom of this article.

Just one of the eight boys and girls races held on the campus of Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill., the 800m field had 17 athletes, including Oswego East’s Chase Skenadore.

An accomplished runner having just completed her sophomore campaign, multiple State qualifier Clinton finished fifth in the two-mile run with a time of 11:29.84.

Fellow Northern Illinois Big XII standout Michelle Dobbs of Rochelle won the girls 800m run with a time of 2:10.96.

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2013 Spring Athletic Banquet Awards

in Baseball/Boys Track/Girls Soccer/Girls Track/Softball/Spring Sports by

The Kaneland High School Athletics Department on Thursday, June 6, announced the award winners for varsity high school athletics.

Below are those winners.

Knight Award

for three-sport athletes:
Ashley Castellanos—Cross Country,
Basketball, Track and Field;
Sarah Grams—Tennis, Basketball, Softball;
Brooke Harner—Tennis, Basketball, Soccer;
Dan Miller—Golf, Basketball, Baseball
Female Athlete of the Year: Sarah Grams
Male Athlete of the Year: Matt Limbrunner
Female Birkette Award: Sarah Grams
Male Birkette Award: Dan Miller

2013 Spring NIBXII
All Conference

Girls Track:
Brianna Bower, Ashley Castellanos, Victoria Clinton, Christina Delach, Allie Heinzer, Jessica Kucera, Amanda Lesak, Aislinn Lodwig, Sydney Strang, Lauren Zick, Abby Dodis, Kyla Goodine, Kaltrina Ismaili, Rachel Steinmiller, Elle Tattoni
Boys Track:
Dylan Kuipers, Kory Harner, Tanner Andrews, Nate Dyer, Brandon Cottier, Brandon Bishop, Ben Barnes, Isaac Swithers, Conor Johnson, Nathaniel Kucera, Kyle Carter, Luis Acosta, Dylan Nauert
Girls Soccer:
Jordan Ginther, Delaney Stryczek, Madi Jurcenko, Courtney Diddell, Sage Schlehofer
Hayley Contorno, Allyson O’Herron, Lanie Callaghan, Lexi Roach, Paige Kuefler
Matt Limbrunner, Dan Miller, Tyler Carlson

2013 Boys
Track and Field Awards

MVP—Track: Dylan Nauert
MVP—Field: Tanner Andrews
Drendel Award: Jay Markuson
Conor Johnson, Kory Harner, Brad Kigyos, Brandon Cottier, Marshall Farthing, John Meisenger
Ron Probst Award: Ben Barnes
All Conference:
Dylan Kuipers, Kory Harner, Tanner Andrews, Nate Dyer, Brandon Cottier, Brandon Bishop, Ben Barnes, Isaac Swithers, Conor Johnson, Nathaniel Kucera, Kyle Carter, Luis Acosta, Dylan Nauert
State Qualifiers:
Conor Johnson and Kyle Carter—
4x800m, 4x400m Relays;
Luis Acosta—4x800m Relay;
Nathaniel Kucera—4x800m,
4x400m relays, 400m Dash;
Brandon Bishop and Brandon Cottier—
4x100m Relay, 200m Dash;
Ben Barnes—4x100m Relay;
Dylan Nauert—4x100m Relay, 4x400m Relay,
110m Hurdles, 300m Hurdles;
Tanner Andrews—Triple Jump;
Marshall Farthing—High Jump;
Nate Dyer—Shot Put;
Dylan Kuipers and Kory Harner—Pole Vault

2013 Girls
Track and Field Awards

MVP: Ashley Castellanos, Lauren Zick
Most Improved:
Murphy Garcia, Kyla Goodine
Maggie Brundige, Ashley Castellanos,
Abby Dodis
State Qualifiers:
Brianna Bower—3200m Run;
Victoria Clinton—1600m Run;
Ashley Castellanos—Triple Jump,
4x400m Relay;
Amanda Lesak—4x800m Relay,
4x400m Relay;
Sydney Strang—4x800m Relay;
Lauren Zick—4x400m Relay, Long Jump;
Christina Delach—Pole Vault;
Allie Heinzer—4x400m Relay;
Jessica Kucera—4x800m Relay;
Aislinn Lodwig—4x800m Relay

2013 Varsity Girls
Soccer Awards

Jordan Ginther, Anne Marie Giese,
Brooke Harner
Most Improved Player: Emily Grams
Rookie of the Year:
Sage Schlehofer, Kiandra Powell
Coach’s Award:
Courtney Diddell, Heather Ortiz,
Delaney Stryczek
Lady Knights Award:
Michelle Ortiz, Brittany Olson,
Madison Jurcenko
Most Valuable Player: Jordan Ginther
All Conference:
Sage Schlehofer, Jordan Ginther, Delaney Stryczek, Madison Jurcenko, Courtney Diddell
All Conference-Honorable Mention:
Kiandra Powell

2013 Softball Awards
Defensive Player of the Year:
Hayley Contorno
Offensive Player of the Year:
Allyson O’Herron, Lexi Roach
Lady Knight Award: Lexi Roach
Captains: Allyson O’Herron, Lanie Callaghan
NiB-12 All Conference:
Paige Kuefler, Hayley Contorno, Allyson
O’Herron, Lexi Roach, Lanie Callaghan
All Conference Honorable Mention:
Sarah Grams, Ellissa Eckert
Conference MVP: Allyson O’Herron

2013 Boys Baseball Award
Mr. Kaneland Baseball: Dan Miller
MVP Offensive: Matt Limbrunner
MVP Defensive: Joe Pollastrini, Dan Miller
Most Improved Player: Tyler Bellock
NIBXII All Conference:
Matt Limbrunner, Dan Miller, Tyler Carlson
All Conference Honorable Mention:
Joshua Cohrs, Tyler Bellock

Hometown Hall of Famer

in Girls Basketball/Girls Cross Country/Girls Track/Kaneland by
Screen shot 2013-06-07 at 10.00.17 AM

The Kaneland School District last week inducted Kerry Rink, pictured here from her days as a Kaneland High School cross country runner, into its Hall of Fame in the Personal Athletic Achievement category. Rink was a three-sport athlete at Kaneland, standing out in cross country, track and basketball. Courtesy Photo

Former KHS athlete inducted into District Hall of Fame
by Mike Sandrolini
ELBURN—Kerry Rink received a phone call out of the blue a couple of months ago from Dr. Jeff Schuler, superintendent of Kaneland Community School District 302.

Needless to say, she was pleasantly surprised to hear from him.

Schuler gave Rink, one of the most successful athletes in Kaneland High School history, the word that she had been selected for induction into the Kaneland School District Hall of Fame.

“That was kind of nice,” said Rink, who starred in track and field, basketball and cross country during her four years at Kaneland from 1984-88. “I was just honored that I was going to be inducted.”

Rink was officially inducted last week during Kaneland’s Senior Athletes’ Night. Members of her family, including her mother, Gerry, and her father, Richard—her varsity high school basketball coach—attended the ceremony.

“I think it’s a great honor,” said Richard, who coached the Knights during the 1980s, first as an assistant and then as head coach. “They finally got her in there, and she deserves to be in there. It’s good that they did it (induct Kerry) in front of the seniors to see what can be done by their athletes.”

Legendary career
Although she excelled in each of the three aforementioned sports, what Kerry accomplished on the track is legendary around the area. She was the Class A 800m state champion three consecutive years, and capped her stellar career by setting the state 800m record in a preliminary heat at a meet in 1988.

She then broke that record during the finals en route to the championship.

Her state record in the 800 stood for 19 years.

In addition, Kerry ran on the Knights’ 4x400m and 4x800m relay teams, the latter of which also set a state record and won a Class A title. The Knights captured the overall Class A team crown in both 1987 and 1988.

In cross country, she was a three-time all-state runner and placed third overall at the 1987 state meet, which at that time was not divided into classes.

Kerry’s track and field prowess landed her a scholarship to the University of Kentucky, where she achieved All-American status her freshman year.

She unfortunately ended up tearing the medial meniscus ligament in her right knee during her sophomore year while running for the UK cross country team. Kerry ran track the following spring, but the injury didn’t allow her to compete in either cross country or track her junior and senior years.

However, Kerry did graduate from UK with honors, and then went on to earn her master’s degree in occupational therapy from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

“I’m proud of the way she handled things on the court and off,” said Richard, who is an assistant boys basketball coach at Hinckley-Big Rock and was a sixth-grade teacher at Kaneland Middle School until his retirement in 1999. “I’m proud of the way she handled herself and came back and got her master’s degree after all the adversity.”

Kerry had been living and working in Los Angeles for the past seven years, but recently moved back to the area to be closer to her family. She now works in occupational therapy in DeKalb.

Rarely did a day go by in the Rink family when either Kerry or one of her five siblings—four brothers and a sister—wasn’t taking part in a practice, game or meet.

Kerry’s oldest brother, Patrick, wrestled and played football at Kaneland.

Her sister, Amy, was the starting point guard on Kaneland’s 1982 Class A state champion basketball team. Kerry’s two older brothers, Mike and Danny, each played football and basketball and ran track, as did her younger brother, Greg.

Gerry and Richard Rink had three of their children going to high school at the same time.

“I wish the microwave (oven) had been invented a few years earlier,” Richard said with a laugh. “There was someone in sports all the time. My wife and I used to parcel out watching games. She’d go to one event and I’d go to another. It was somewhat chaotic sometimes, but it worked out.”

Richard, of course, didn’t have to attend Kerry’s basketball games because he was her coach. Coaching one’s daughter or son isn’t unusual, yet Richard was always wary that he didn’t treat Kerry differently from the rest of her teammates.

“It was fun coaching her,” he said, “but it was kind of hard when you coach your own kid. You maybe have to be harder on your kid than you would on the other kids; otherwise it looks like favoritism. But I thought she was a very good player, and she did quite well for herself.”

That she did. Kerry was an all-state player in 1988 and tied a school record for most points scored in a quarter (17). She shares that record with Beth Creamean, a former two-sport star (basketball and softball) at DePaul University.

“It was hard sometimes because I didn’t know whether to call him Dad or coach,” Kerry said, “But I’m honored to have him as a coach. It was a good experience overall. We had a good team.

“He was a great coach and still is. I learned quite a lot from him. He helped me with my shooting and defense, and think I was the basketball player I was because of him.”

Kerry lists her parents and siblings as being among her biggest influences, both on and off the field and court.

“I went to school, went to practice, studied and went to bed (during high school),” said Kerry, a straight A student at Kaneland. “I was very serious and very driven. They were always good about telling me, ‘It’s OK if you get a B (in a class).’ They tried to help take the pressure off me a little bit, but I put a lot of pressure on myself from within (to succeed).

“My parents had a big influence on me, and my siblings did, too. I come from a very sports-minded family. My sister was an influence, as well, because she was a really good point guard.”

Kerry also mentions Lea Ann Machais, her sister’s teammate on the 1982 championship team; Pat Sheetz, the head track and field coach during her varsity career at Kaneland; Doug Ecker and Tom Todd, who also coached her in track and cross country; and Mr. Davis, her favorite high school teacher, as inspirations.

“My teammates inspired me, too,” she said. “There were a lot of different personalities and talents (on those teams).”

Boys track going the Midwest Distance

in Boys Track/Girls Track by

Two Kaneland runners compete at Benedictine
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Not content with the productive goings-on at Eastern Illinois University two weekends ago, Kaneland High School track members Kyle Carter and Nathaniel Kucera, junior State medalists, have more work to do.

On Saturday, June 8, the two members of the Class 2A 4x800m relay champion foursome travel to Lisle, Ill., to compete at the 2013 Midwest Distance Festival, hosted by Benedictine University.

The second annual festival switches locations from the Joliet, Ill.-based Memorial Stadium.

The track tandem set a school record in Charleston, Ill. at the Class 2A State gathering along with junior teammates Luis Acosta and Conor Johnson with a time of 7:50.26.

Carter and Kucera are one of 16 athletes competing in the 800m run, which had a qualifying time of one minute, 56 seconds. Carter’s leg of the State run was 1:54.46, while Kucera’s entry was 1:54.40, fifth and ninth in the entire field, respectively.

Carter is not approaching the event any differently now that he is, by definition, one of the best in Illinois at what he does.

“I still get nervous before these things,” he said. “You never know what could happen. I just have to go in and see and run my own race.”

The two Class of 2014 members helped spur on a sixth-place team finish for boys track with 24 team points.

Slated to witness the race are the two runner’s families and KHS coach Eric Baron.

Lady Knight Victoria Clinton will also compete in the girls 2-mile run.

The festival consists of five events for the boys and three for the girls, along with a co-ed 5,000m run. The top three runners will be medaled after each event.

Benedictine University is located at 5700 College Rd. in Lisle, Ill.

Fine finish

in Girls Track by
Freshman Brianna Bower (19) cruised to an 11:19.33 in Saturday’s 3200m Run Final at the IHSA State Meet. Bower placed seventh overall, earning all state honors. Photo by Ben Draper

Girls track concludes season at state finals
KANELAND—It was a weekend well spent in Charleston, Ill.

With a select few events able to go down to Eastern Illinois University for the Class 2A girls track State meet, Kaneland made the most of it.

Seven events saw Kaneland garb grace the track, and the Kaneland’s four team points in the finals earned it 52nd place in the entire Class 2A landscape.

Six events, with the exception of the long jump, made PRs.

Lauren Zick still managed to finish 11th overall in the long jump with a mark of 16 feet, 11.25 inches, despite no PR and battling an illness.

Christina Delach took a 10th place tie in the pole vault with a 10-foot effort, same as in her prelim group.

Amanda Lesak, Aislinn Lodwig, Jessica Kucera and Sydney Strang took ninth in a crowded 4x800m relay field with a time of 9:40.76. They raced a 9:39.47 in prelims.

In the 3200m run, Brianna Bower broke the school record held for 26 years by Amy Eddington, with a time of 11:19.33, good for seventh overall.

Ashley Castellanos concluded a productive career in the triple jump by hitting a 35-06 in her Friday effort.

Victoria Clinton raced a 5:18.32 in her 1600m run effort on Friday, while the 4x400m relay unit of Lesak, Castellanos, Allie Heinzer and Zick raced a 4:04.11 on Friday.

“I think the consistent effort you see each year from the girls is a combination of learning from older girls, the work ethic and the fact we get quality girls to come out for track and field at KHS,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “Girls like Clinton and Bower show up with a great work ethic. But it’s much easier to keep the ball rolling than to start from scratch each year.”

The team sweepstakes was taken by Springfield Southeast, with 66 points.

Junior Christina Delach vaulted 10’0” at Saturday’s Pole Vault Final during the IHSA State Meet, placing 10th overall. Photo by Ben Draper
Junior Christina Delach vaulted 10’0” at Saturday’s Pole Vault Final during the IHSA State Meet, placing 10th overall. Photo by Ben Draper
Brianna Bower nears the end of the 3200m Run Final at Saturday’s IHSA State Meet. Photo by Ben Draper
Brianna Bower nears the end of the 3200m Run Final at Saturday’s IHSA State Meet.
Photo by Ben Draper
Amanda Lesak hands off to teammate Aislinn Lodwig during Saturday’s 4x800m Relay Final at the IHSA State Meet. Photo by Ben Draper
Amanda Lesak hands off to teammate Aislinn Lodwig during Saturday’s 4x800m Relay Final at the IHSA State Meet.
Photo by Ben Draper
Junior Christina Delach vaulted 10’0” at Saturday’s Pole Vault Final during the IHSA State Meet, placing 10th overall. Photo by Ben Draper
Junior Christina Delach vaulted 10’0” at Saturday’s Pole Vault Final during the IHSA State Meet, placing 10th overall. Photo by Ben Draper
Senior  Amanda Lesak  gets a good start to the 4x800m Relay. The Lady Knight quartet of Lesak, Aislinn Lodwig, Jessica Kucera and Sydney Strang ran the relay in 9:40.76, good enough for ninth place and a state medal. Photos by Ben Draper
Senior Amanda Lesak gets a good start to the 4x800m Relay. The Lady Knight quartet of Lesak, Aislinn Lodwig, Jessica Kucera and Sydney Strang ran the relay in 9:40.76, good enough for ninth place and a state medal. Photos by Ben Draper
Freshman Brianna Bower (19) cruised to an 11:19.33 in Saturday’s 3200m Run Final at the IHSA State Meet. Bower placed seventh overall, earning all state honors. Photo by Ben Draper
Freshman Brianna Bower (19) cruised to an 11:19.33 in Saturday’s 3200m Run Final at the IHSA State Meet. Bower placed seventh overall, earning all state honors. Photo by Ben Draper

Leading the way at Burlington Sectional

in Girls Track by

Lady Knights qualify for state in seven events
KANELAND—Friday’s Class 2A Burlington Central Sectional had many good teams, but only one collective winner.

That would end up being the local outfit from Maple Park.

With 73 points as a team, Kaneland girls track edged Hampshire to become 2013 sectional champs.

The hosts, at 69 points, took third, followed by Sterling with 57 and Sycamore with 52.

Kaneland ended up with seven events in the state-qualifying range, with the end-of-season meet at Eastern Illinois University this weekend.

“They always rise to the occasion, just like they did at conference,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “We never try to win a sectional; we try to qualify kids, but I think if they did what they were supposed to do, they would have a chance. Hampshire is a very good team.”

Junior Christina Delach got the party going with a third place, 9-9 effort in the pole vault.

Delach said she is happy to continue the long line of successful State-bound vaulters.

“I’ve been with a lot of girls that have qualified before, so it’s just kind of cool to be down there. I’ve been there to watch, now I can jump,” Delach said.

Junior Lauren Zick took second in the long jump, thanks to a 16-6.5.

Senior Ashley Castellanos was crowned sectional champion in her triple jump group by covering 34-08, which she did on her second, as well as her final jump.

Going for multiple events, Castellanos knew the value of practice and form.

“Every day I practiced, it made me a little bit better,” Castellanos said. “In something like the 4x400m, it’s how I can push through and how I can hold on to running that whole lap.”

In relay action, the KHS 4x800m foursome of senior Amanda Lesak, sophomore Aislinn Lodwig, junior Sydney Strang and sophomore Jessica Kucera captured the event with a time of 9:51.73, 2.23 seconds ahead of the Dixon challenge.

Freshman sensation Brianna Bower, with an 11:37.52 time in the 3200-meter run, secured a first-place honor.

Sophomore 1600m run rep Victoria Clinton continued along on her stellar 2012-13 athletic season by qualifying with a second-place, 5:20.92.

Finally, the 4x400m relay group of Castellanos, freshman Allie Heinzer, Lesak and Zick finished in second with a 4:07.45.

“I’ve definitely been working on race plans,” Zick said. “Basically getting ready for the competition and being ready for whatever comes our way.”

Lesak, a 4×4 veteran since the beginning of the campaign, thinks this week’s prep is simple.

“The most important thing we have to remember is to stay relaxed,” Lesak said. “Sometimes if you’re really nervous or tense up or thinking too much, that’s when the mistakes happen.”

The State meet occurs Thursday, May 16, through Saturday, May 18.

Zick Shines at NIB-12 meet

in Girls Track by

KHS sprinter takes 3 conference crowns
KANELAND—Friday’s Northern Illinois Big XII girls track meet in DeKalb gave many individuals an opportunity to see how they measure up conference-wide.

For Kaneland sprinter Lauren Zick, it became clear that others need to use her as the basis for comparison.

Zick left the competition in the dust in all three of her track events, winning the conference title in the 100-, 200-, and 400-meter dashes.

She blew away the field in the 100-meter dash, winning by 0.49 seconds with a time of 12.46. She both doubled the distance and nearly doubled the margin of victory in the 200-meter dash, winning by 0.94 seconds with a time of 25.78. Zick earned the hat trick with a .98-second win in the 400-meter dash, crossing the finish line at 1:00.01.

She nearly took her fourth victory in the long jump, just missing first by less than three inches. Her jump of 17-08.75 was good for second place.

Zick wasn’t the only Lady Knight to earn a conference championship, however. Kaneland’s 4×400-relay team of Jessica Kucera, Amanda Lesak, Sydney Strang and Allie Heinzer won their event with a time of 4:13.99.

While there were many individual accolades for Kaneland, the team overall proved strong as well, putting up 104 points in a second-place effort.

Bested by only West Division foe Geneseo’s 110, Kaneland’s second place was ahead of Yorkville by 14 points. Rounding out the top five were DeKalb at 69 and Sterling at 58.

Sycamore finished sixth with 52, and Dixon was well behind in seventh at 21 points.

“If they had put forth their best effort and they had finished sixth I would have been happy with that,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “We try to concentrate on working hard, being prepared for the conditions and the competition, and just executing the race, or jump, or throw. The girls have been very consistent and shown steady improvement as the season has progressed.”

That steady improvement led to a series of strong finishes in a variety of events, which supported the team’s strong showing.

Elle Tattoni took second in the discus with a 101-10 .

On the field, it was Lady Knight Christina Delach who earned second in her pole vault category by vaulting a 9-3.

Brianna Bower managed a third in the 3200-meter run with a time of 11:33.53.

In the relay groups, the KHS foursome of Kaltrina Ismaili, Ashley Castellanos, Noelle Espino and Allie Heinzer took third in the 4x200m relay at 1:51.81. The 4x800m relay group of Lesak, Kucera, Aislinn Lodwig and Strang took second at 9:58.50.

Ahead for Lady Knights track is the Class 2A Sectional held on Friday, May 10, at Burlington Central High School. Dixon, Rochelle, Sterling and Sycamore round out the NIB-12 contingent at the meet.

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