High school track coach Doug Ecker (above) showing middle school summer campers how to get over a hurdle during last week’s youth track camp at Kaneland High School.
BLOOMINGTON, Ill.—The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) released the classifications breakdown for the 2015-16, and Kaneland will not see any changes to their sports landscape from the 2014-15 season.
• Baseball: 3A (four classes)
• Basketball (boys and girls): 3A (four classes)
• Cross Country
(boys and girls): 2A (three classes)
• Cheerleading: Middle
(three classes—small, medium, large)
• Dance: 2A (three classes)
• Football: Determined at the
end of the regular season
• Golf (boys): 2A (three classes)
• Golf (girls) AA (two classes)
• Softball: 3A (four classes)
• Scholastic Bowl: AA (two classes)
• Soccer (boys and girls): 2A (three classes)
• Track and Field (boys and girls):
2A (three classes)
• Volleyball: 3A (four classes)
• Wrestling: 2A (three classes)
Enrollment for the high school is up 19 students—1,310 to 1,329 —from the 2014-15 school year to the upcoming year. Since classification cut offs vary from sport to sport depending on the number of schools that participate in each sport throughout the state, the Knights had some close calls this upcoming season. Kaneland was 49 students away from moving up to 4A in basketball, 17 students away from moving to 4A in volleyball, and 11 away from moving up to 3A in track and field.
KHS earns medals in six events
CHARLESTON, Ill.—At the State track meet, it’s all about making the finals. No matter how well you run, jump or throw in Friday’s preliminaries, it doesn’t get you anything but style points and hardy handshakes. If you fail to advance to the finals, the State meet ends with you being in the stands on Saturday, rather than on the track, runways or throwing circles. So the door to winning medals, titles and team championships is opened by advancing from the prelims to the finals.
Last Friday, the Kaneland girls threw that door wide open by advancing sophomore pole vaulter Lexie Guerra, a 4x800m relay team of junior Carly Bartholomew, junior Noelle Espino, sophomore Sarah Daley and senior Aislinn Lodwig, a 4x100m team of freshman Shanya Hurston, junior Allie Heinzer, freshman Jamie Martens and sophomore Carly Elliott, Espino in the 800m, Heinzer in the 400m, junior Brianna Bower in the 1600m (with a school record 5 minutes, 9.45 seconds), and a 4x400m relay team of Bartholomew, Heinzer, junior Olivia Galor and Martens, to the big dance on Saturday.
Five individual event finalists (including Bower in the 3200m, which is a two-section final), plus three relays had the Knights heading into Saturday with the potential to score in eight of the meet’s 18 events.
On Saturday, the meet began with field event competition, where Guerra tied for seventh in the pole vault at 10 feet, 6 inches. On the track, the Knights were out of the scoring in the 4x800m relay, placing 10th in 9:48.43. But in the next event, the 4x100m relay, they placed fourth in a season-best 48.96. In the 3200m, Bower added six more fourth-place points, finishing in 11:15.53. In the 800m final, Espino finished eighth in 2:20.19 in a blanket finish where just 0.8 second separated second and eighth places. Next, in the 400m final, Heinzer placed third in 57.13. In the 1600m final, Bower was unable to score, doubling back from the 3200m. But in the final event of the meet, the 4x400m relay, the Knights finished with a flurry with a second-place finish—their highest placing of the day—in a school record time of 3:59.65 to place fifth in the final team standings—just one point away from a third-place trophy—among 67 scoring teams.
It was a fitting finish to an excellent 2015 season. But as great a campaign as it was, the best news is that everyone on the State meet team, with the exception of Aislinn Lodwig, will be back for an encore in 2016.
“We came a long way with this young team to do this well at the State meet. But we always run our best at the end of the season. Part of it is the schedule; we run against some really good 2A teams and 3A powerhouses,” head coach Doug Ecker said. “And one of the reasons we do so well in the relays is because we spend so much time practicing our baton exchanges. I’m really proud of the progress runners like Carly Bartholomex, Noelle Espino and Allie Heinzer made. They all left with All-State honors, and it was a privilege to have the opportunity to work with them.
“We have a bright future, but you never know what can happen a year from now. So we’ll just continue to work hard to get kids to join our program every year, coach them well and be sure they have fun. We may not always be this good, but it can always be this fun.”
Photo: Junior Allie Heinzer qualified for the Class 2A State Finals
in four events for the Knights. File Photo
Girls track wins third-straight Sectional; sends 12 to State Finals
HANOVER, Ill.—There won’t be many empty seats when the Knights travel to the IHSA Girls State Track and Field meet in Charleston, Ill. this weekend. The Knights almost doubled the score of second-place Erie-Prophetstown in the 17-team Galena Sectional May 15 to win their third-consecutive IHSA Sectional title and advance five athletes in six individual events, plus all four relays, to the State Championships—12 athletes total.
In the opening event on the track, a team of junior Carly Bartholomew, senior Jessica Kucera, junior Noelle Espino and senior Aislinn Lodwig punched tickets to the State meet with a third-place finish in a season-best 9 minutes, 45 seconds. Freshman Shanya Hurston, junior Allie Heinzer, freshman Jamie Martens and sophomore Carly Elliott then took four more seats on the bus by winning the 4x100m relay in a season-best time of 49.04, which is within a few hundredths of the school record. Next, in the 3200m, junior Brianna Bower added the sectional title to last week’s Northern Illinois Big XII mile title on her resume with a 23-second win in 11:22.07, while senior Victoria Clinton placed fourth in 12:28.78. Next, in the 100m hurdles final, senior Taylor Eaves didn’t advance or score, but ran a PR 16.48 in seventh place.
In the 100m dash final, Heinzer made her second of four trips to the top of the awards podium, winning in 12.76, while Hurston placed sixth in 13.31. Next, in one of the highlights of the meet, the fast-improving Espino beat a stacked 800m field in a PR 2:17.24. The 4x200m relay team of Elliott, Hurston, Martens and Olivia Galor then took its place on the podium after winning in a season-best 1:45.42. They were followed by Heinzer winning the 400m in an impressive time of 57.49—the third best time in the State.
Eaves finished a great meet, and closed out her high school track career, with another PR placing fifth in the 300m hurdles in 49.01. Brianna Bower and freshman standout Andrea Wells combined for eight-points in the 1600m with third- and fifth-place finishes in 5:17.80 and a PR 5:34.50. Elliott placed seventh in the 200m final in 27.26, then a foursome of Martens, Bartholomew, Galor and Heinzer won the final event of the meet, the 4x400m relay, in a school record time of 4:00.49. Heinzer, with wins in the 100m and 400m, and legs on the winning 4x100m and 4x400m relays, led all Knights’ scorers with 25 points.
In the field, sophomores Lexie Guerra and Sydney Davidson got things started by placing first and third, respectively in the pole vault on May 13 in Freeport, Ill., with state-qualifying marks of 10 feet, 3 inches and 9-09 to score 18points for the Lady Knights. The Sectional host did not have a pole vault facility, so the event was forced off-site and placed earlier in the week. Sophomore Maddie Keifer tied for fourth in the high jump at 4-010, and freshman Meghan Andrews placed third in the long jump with a PR jump of 15-011, then placed fourth in the triple jump at 32-04.
“It was a better overall meet than we thought it might be in terms of quality,” head coach Doug Ecker said. “As usual, our athletes competed really hard. And there were a lot of other teams who had kids step up to record season bests, PRs, and State-qualifying marks who weren’t on the radar screen. The 800m produced eight State qualifiers, the 4x400m relay produced seven State qualifiers and the 4x100m produced six. The discus produced five State qualifiers. It was also best organized Sectional meet I’ve ever been a part of. I wouldn’t mind coming here every year if it wasn’t 120 miles away.”
Girls track squad still sees plenty of success at soggy NIB-12 Championships
YORKVILLE—On a day when almost every other boys invitational and girls conference track meet in northern Illinois was postponed due to thunderstorms, they were somehow able to squeeze in the Northern Illinois Big XII Conference Girls’ Championships between lightning strikes and rain squalls on Friday night in Yorkville. There, the young Kaneland girls track squad placed second as the meet host won its second-consecutive league title.
The individual star of the meet for the Knights was junior Allie Heinzer, who won both the 200m in 25.72 seconds and 400m in a personal record (PR) 58.94. Joining her on the winner’s podium was junior Brianna Bower, who won her first conference track title by taking the 1600m in 5:18.87 after placing second in the 3200m earlier in the meet with a PR time of 11:14.97. Sophomore Carley Elliott, freshmen Shanya Hurston and Jamie Martens teamed with Heinzer to move the baton around the track to win the 4x100m relay in a season best time of 49.79—a new conference record.
Conference silver medalists were junior Noelle Espino, who placed second in the 800m in a 2:20.54; a 4x800m relay foursome of juniors Carly Bartholomew and Espino and seniors Jessica Kucera and Aislinn Lodwig that placed second in a season-best 9:49.42; the 4x200m relay team of Hurston, junior Olivia Galor, Martens and Elliott that was runner-up in 1:47.19; and the 4x400m relay of Bartholomew, Galor, Becca Richtman and Martens in 4:10.24 also earned all-conference with their second-place finish.
Other third-place team points were scored by Elliott in the 200m (26.95). Fifth-place points came from Lodwig in the 800m (a 2:28.0, PR), senior Taylor Eaves in the 300m hurdles (49.39, PR), sophomore Maddie Keifer in the high jump, (4 feet, 10 inches), and senior Ally Van Bogaert in the shot put, where the basketball star threw a 30-0. Sixth-place points came from Hurston in the 100m (13.56) and senior Victoria Clinton in the 3200m (12:04.86).
The long jump, triple jump and pole vault were not contested because of slippery, wet runway conditions.
“We were lucky to get the meet in,” head coach Doug Ecker said. “Everyone went home soaked, but several teams would not have been able to come back on Saturday, given their travel times and bus schedules. We lost some big points in the jumps that were canceled, but we weren’t the only ones. We were pleased with our second-place team finish, and are now totally focused on qualifying a bus-load of athletes for the State meet next Friday.”
That “next Friday” is the IHSA 2A Sectional Championships on May 15 at River Ridge High School in Hanover, Ill., where the top-two finishers in each event, plus those who meet the State-qualifying standards, will advance to the Girls State Championships on May 22-23 at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Ill.
On Monday, the Knights traveled to Oregon for the annual Sectional Prep meet. Event winners included the 4x100m relay team of Hurston, Heinzer, Martens and Elliott in 50.59, Eaves in both the 100m (17.04) and 300m (49.69) hurdle races, Elliott in the 100m (13.15), Bowers in the 800m (2:32.11), Bartholomew in the 400m (1:04.26) and Heinzer in the 200m (26.11). No team scores were kept at the Oregon meet.
Photos: Freshmen Sandra Gale (right) and Meghan Andrews (below) saw action at the Kane County Girls Invitational at St. Charles East April 30. Photo by Laura Gampfer
Knights fifth at Kane County Meet
ST. CHARLES—In competition as stiff as the frigid, gusty, north winds, the Kaneland girls placed fifth out of 16 local teams at the annual Kane County Girls’ Track and Field Championships on April 30. Kaneland was the highest placing Class 2A school in the meet and scored 31 more points than sixth-place St. Charles North. According to the website Dyestat Illinois, there were 129 state elite-level performers in the meet.
With wind chills that hovered in the 40s for the entire afternoon and evening, the Knights got things started on the track with a fifth place finish in the 4x800m relay in a season best time of 9 minutes, 51.70 seconds, with junior Brianna Bower, senior Jessica Kucera, junior Noelle Espino and senior Aislinn Lodwig on the baton carries. Despite losing their best short sprinter, sophomore Nicole Sreenan, for the rest of the season with a chronic lower back injury, next came a second-place finish by the Knights in the 4x100m relay in 50.46 with a team of freshman Shayna Hurston, junior Allie Heinzer, freshman Jamie Martens, and sophomore Carley Elliott. Then came unexpected points from freshman Andrea Wells in the 3200m. Wells, seeded 14th in the second heat, bucked the wind to place seventh with a :15 second personal best time of 12:10.06.
Next to put points on the Knights’ scorecard was Elliott with an eighth-place finish in 13.20 in the 100m final. Noelle Espino followed with a third-place in the 800m in 2:24.06, and three freshmen—Cierra Kuipers, Sayna Hurston and Jamie Martens—passed the baton on to Elliott in the 4x200m relay to anchor them to third place in 1:49.57. Heinzer followed by continuing her busy day with third place in the 400m in 59.69.
After failing to score in the 100m hurdle finals by one place, senior Taylor Eaves got points in the 300m hurdles with an eighth-place finish in 50.80. Bower doubled back from the 4x800m relay to run a :04 second lifetime best of 5:13.87 in the mile (1600m) for eighth place. Heinzer finished her day with a second-place finish in the 200m final in 26.11, and in her sixth race of the day, Elliott placed eighth in 27.56. The Knights closed out the meet on the track with a fourth-place finish in the 4x400m relay in 4:12.91 with a team of junior Carly Bartholomew, Kuipers, freshman Becca Richtman and Martens.
In the field, the Knights’ 1-2 punch of sophomores Lexie Guerra and Sydney Davidson placed second and third in the pole vault with jumps of 10 feet and 9-06, respectively. Sophomore Maddie Keifer was sixth in the high jump at 4-010. Freshman Meghan Andrews was seventh in the long jump with a new personal best of 15-07.25, and junior Julia Schaefer placed seventh in the discus with a season best throw of 92-07.
“This was one of the best Kane County meets I’ve seen in terms of the depth of talent in every event. We had a great meet and I’m really proud of how well our team competed, “ head coach Doug Ecker said. “The leadership we see from so many of the underclassmen on this team is a preview of the super-successful adult leaders they are destined to become. If we have good weather conditions for the conference meet, were going to completely rewrite our team (personal records) list.”
The Knights will travel to Yorkville on Friday, May 8, for the NIB-12 Conference Championships.
Five event wins, Guerra’s meet record highlight Wauconda Invite for Knights
WAUCONDA, Ill.—So close.
The Kaneland girls placed second by the narrowest of margins at the 10-team Wauconda Invitational last Friday evening. The final team scores read Grant 100, Kaneland 96, as both teams showcased their depth of running, jumping and throwing talent. The Knights won five events, placed second in two events, third in three events, and scored in a total 13 of the 18 events overall.
There is a saying that,“Track and Field is an individual sport, but winning track meets is a team sport.” Grant High School, located in northeast suburb of Fox Lake, Ill., won only two events, but they placed second in five events and scored in 16 of 18 events. Ultimately, they won the meet in the throwing events by placing first and second in the shot put and discus and scoring 35 points—compared to one point for Kaneland in those same events.
On the track, Kaneland once again showed its outstanding depth in the sprints, winning the 4x100m relay in 51.5, the 4x200m relay in 1:52.4, and placing 4th in the 4x400m relay in 4:09.7. Individually, junior Allie Heinzer was third in the 100 meters in 12.6 seconds, just behind a meet record 12.3. Later, Allie came back to win the 400m in 59.3, while sophomore Carley Elliott placed third in the 200m finals in 27.2 after having just the sixth best time in the prelims. Junior Noelle Espino continued to dominate in the 800m, winning by a :02 second margin in 2:26.2. Distance ace junior Brianna Bower was third in the 3200m in 11:40.7, and later placed seventh in the 1600m in 5:28.9—a race that saw just 2.7 seconds separate third and eighth places at the finish line. Kaneland didn’t score in the hurdles, but freshman Sandra Gale ran a lifetime best time of 18.7 in the 100m hurdle preliminaries.
In the field, one of the highlights of the meets was the Knights scoring 18 points in the pole vault with a 1-2 finish, as sophomore Sydney Davidson placed second at 9 feet, 6 inches, and sophomore Lexie Guerra won the event with a new meet record of 10’ 3”. In the high jump, sophomore Maddie Keifer tied for third with a height of 4’ 8”, while Sandra Gale also jumped 4’ 8” but didn’t score based on earlier misses at that height. In the long jump, freshman Meghan Andrews and Maddie Keifer fell just short of scoring with jumps of 14’ 6.5” and 14’ 6.25”, but Andrews came back later to place fifth in the triple jump at 32’ 4.5”. In the discus, junior Julia Schaefer placed sixth with a throw of 84’ 8”.
“We were really lucky to get all the field events completed except the pole vault before the rain started,” head coach Doug Ecker said. “It makes Lexie’s meet record in the vault even more impressive. As the track events progressed, the temperatures dropped from the low 50s to almost 40 degrees by the end of the meet. But our girls are really a tough-minded group, and they didn’t surrender a bit to being cold and wet and soaked to the skin. They compete like warriors, and we are really proud of them for that.”
Yorkville won eight events to seven for Kaneland and prevailed 63-55 in a dual meet Tuesday, April 21. The girls and boys pole vault and high jump was not contested due to the near gale-force winds.
Event winners for the Knights included Heinzer in the 100 and 200 meters in 12.8 seconds and 26.4, respectively. Carly Bartholomew teamed with fellow juniors Espino and Bower for a one-to-three Knights sweep of the 400m, winning in 64.0. And senior Ally Van Bogart won the shot put at 29 feet, 7 inches. The Knights also won the 4x100m, 4x800m and 4x400m relays. Other performances of note included two-three finishes in the 100m by sophomore Elliott and freshman Shanya Hurston in 13.2 and 13.6, third place in the 100m hurdles by freshman Gale in 18.3, and a third-place finish in the 200m by junior Olivia Galor in 27.7.
The Knights travelled out to Bureau Valley High School, scoring 116 points and placing second to the meet host this past Monday. Event winners for the Knights included the 4x800m relay, Taylor Eaves in the 300 hurdles, Bower in the 800m and Davidson in the pole vault.
This Friday, the Knights will compete in the Kane County Girls’ Track & Field Championships at St. Charles East High School.
Photos by Laura Gampfer
KANELAND—A back-to-back weekend for the Knights ended with a pair of runner-up finishes. Kaneland fell to Huntley by 13 points at Ottawa on Friday, 282 to 269, and lost to meet host Boylan Catholic by 18 on Saturday, 104 to 86.
At Ottawa’s ABC invitational, each team typically matches their best athletes up in the A heat, second-best in the B, and third best in the C.
In A flight action, Noelle Espino was the Knights’ lone event winner, winning the 800m with a time of 2 minutes, 21.76 seconds.
In th B flights, Carley Elliott won the 100m in 13.39, Olivia Galor won the 200m in 26.91 and the 400m in 1:03.36, and Sydney Davidson won the pole vault with a 9 foot, 6 inch effort.
In the C flights, Carly Bartholomew won the 400m in 1:04.34, and Abby Shaw won the 3200m in 13:03.86.
In the relays, the 4x100m team of Shanya Hurston, Allie Heinzer, Jamie Martens and Elliott won with a 50.08, while the 4x400m relay team of Martens, Becca Richtman, Espino and Heinzer won with a time of 4:07.92, and the 4x800m relay team of Brianna Bower, Espino, Aislinn Lodwig and Bartholomew won in 9:57.29.
The next day in Rockford, the Knights got wins from Elliott in the 100m dash (12.88), Bartholomew in the 400m (1:04.22), Taylor Eaves in the 300m hurdles (51.40), Maddie Keifer in the high jump (4’ 10”), Crystal Durham in the long jump (15’ 5.5”), and won the 4x200m (1:48.94) and 4x400m (4:09.49) relays.
Up next for the Knights is the Wauconda Invite on Friday at 4 p.m.
Girls track picks up 2 wins in as many tries
KANELAND—The Kaneland girls track team opened its 2015 outdoor season with a triangular meet at Oregon with Burlington Central last Tuesday. To say it got off to a good start would be an understatement. The team won 11 of the 12 running events and two of the six field events to double the team score on second place BC, 109-52.
On a cold, windy, damp afternoon that caused the Chicago Cubs to cancel their home game, the Knights persevered to overcome both the weather and their competitors with some impressive performances. They won the 4x800m relay by 1 minute, 32 seconds, and the 4x100m relay by three seconds—huge margins in those events.
Sophomore Allie Ganz won the 3200m by 26 seconds. The Knights took the first four places in the 100m dash behind sophomore Nicole Sreenan, and the first four places in the 300m hurdles behind senior Taylor Eaves. Led by junior Brianna Bower, they took the first three places in the 800m. KHS went 1-2 in the 400m, led by junior Carly Bartholomew, and took the first five places in the 200m behind junior Allie Heinzer. Kaneland closed the meet by winning the 4x400m relay by eight seconds.
In the field events, sophomore Maddie Keifer won the high jump at 5 feet, and freshman Jamie Martens won the long jump with a leap of 15’ 0“.
“These Tuesday meets are important to us because they give everyone on our team the chance to compete, which we cannot do in most of our weekend invitationals that have limited entries,” head coach Doug Ecker said. “This meet was especially important because it was the only opportunity we have to do the new events we add to the event schedule outdoors—the 4x100m relay, the longer dash and hurdle races, and the discus—before our big home meet invitational on Saturday.”
On Saturday—a day blessed with one of the first sunny, warm days of spring—the Knights hosted their 38th annual Holmes Invitational, where the 14-team field included many of their biggest northern Illinois AA rivals.
The meet’s namesake, Jill Holmes, was a teacher and coach at Kaneland for 33 years and served as its girls’ athletic director for 14-years until her retirement in 2000.
On the day, the Knights won three individual track events, three of the four relays, and Keifer continued her high jump winning streak with a mark of 5’ 2”. Showcasing their outstanding team depth, they scored in 15 of the 18 events, and had two athletes score in five of the eight running events and in three of the six field events.
Individually, sprint stars Sreenan won the 100m in 12.57, and Heinzer won the 200m in 25.60 and the 400m in 59.19. Junior Noelle Espino was third in the 800m at 2:21.41, and Bower was second in both the 3200m and 1600m in 11:31.31 and 5:34.40, respectively. Eaves was fourth in the 300m hurdles in 51.26.
Sreenan, freshman Shayna Hurston and sophomore Carley Elliott all ran on the winning 4×100 and 4×200 relays, with Heinzer in the former and junior Olivia Galor in the latter. Galor, Espino, Jamie Martens and sophomore Becca Richtman combined to win the 4x400m relay. Espino, senior Aislinn Lodwig, Bartholomew and senior Jessica Kucera combined to finish second in the 4x800m relay.
In the field, sophomore Sydney Davidson was third in the pole vault at 9’ 6”, and freshman Cierra Kuipers was fourth at 8’ 6”. Freshman Crystal Durham was third in the long jump, and freshmen Mehan Andrews and Jamie Martens were fifth and sixth—all over 15’. Keifer and Andrews placed third and fourth in the triple jump at 32’ 3” and 32’ 1.5”, respectively.
When the smoke from the starter’s gun cleared and the scores were tallied, the Knights claimed a 45-point team victory over Hononegah.
“This was the best weather conditions we’ve had for this meet in 30 years, and we tried to make the most of it,” Ecker said. “The performance of our sprinters was spectacular, and I was very pleased with how well we did in the jumps. Maddie’s high jump mark was an outdoor PR (personal record), and I don’t know if we’ve ever had three freshman place in the long jump—and all jump over 15 feet. And we think freshman Cierra Kuipers is going to be a star in the pole vault. It was a great day.”
BLOOMINGTON, Ill.—Last weekend, nineteen Kaneland track and field athletes headed south to Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Ill., to put an exclamation point on their 2015 indoor season at the annual Illinois Top Times High School Indoor Championship—the unofficial state indoor championship.
The meet features separate Class 1A, 2A and 3A competitions for both boys and girls, and they earned their way there by being among the top performers in their respective events during the 2015 season.
The meet started for the Knights on Saturday morning with a second-place finish in the boys’ long jump by senior Ben Barnes. The event was won by the national leader and field event “Athlete of the Meet,” Ja’Mari Ward from Cahokia, with a mark of 23 feet, 5.75 inches. Barnes, meanwhile, achieved his best mark of 22’, 2.5” on his final attempt to move from fifth place to second, with a mark that would have also won the class 3A meet title later that afternoon.
Elsewhere in the field events, Kaneland sophomore Lexie Guerra cleared 10’, 0” in the girls’ pole vault to place seventh, after which junior Mike Rinella placed ninth in the boys’ pole vault with a 12’, 6” effort.
On the track, junior Brianna Bower finished fifth in the 3200m with a 19-second season-best time of 11 minutes, 30.14 seconds, and senior Victoria Clinton ran a 10-second season best to place 13th in 12:11.42. In other distance races, junior Noelle Espino placed 10th in the 800m in 2:27.96—just .05 second behind fifth. In the sprints, sophomore Nicole Sreenan duplicated her 7.85 time in the prelims to place fifth in the girls’ 60m dash final, just two-thousandths of a second out of fourth. After not advancing to the 60m dash final, junior Allie Heinzer ran the 400m with a vengeance, placing fifth and dipping under 60-seconds for the first time ever with a new lifetime best of 59.66.
In the boys’ relays, a Knights foursome of junior Austin Kintz, senior Andrew Lesak, junior Drew Franklin, and junior Sean Spaetzel placed 11th in the 4x800m in 8:35.06. In the 4x200m relay, a team of Barnes, junior Brandon Cruz, senior Tevin Fitzgibbons and junior Tanner Robertson placed 13th after a poor first exchange put them in the back of the race.
“Ben Barnes came through with his patented last-minute heroics to move up to second place on his last attempt in the long jump, and Mike Rinella—and all our other juniors in the relays—gained some big meet experience that will be invaluable to us later in the season,” head boys coach Eric Baron said, “They do a great job with this meet, but it is chaotic with some 600 boys and girls trying to check-in, warm-up on a basketball court, and compete in a small, crowded fieldhouse with an event schedule orchestrated to the minute. The outdoor State meet is the same way, and there is no way to prepare for that other than to be part of it.”
The Kaneland girls, meanwhile, placed fifth in the 4x200m relay with a team of Nicole Sreenan, freshman Shanya Hurston, junior Olivia Galor and sophomore Carley Elliott. Their hotly-contested heat saw a Kankakee runner fall while making the final baton exchange, causing Elliott to have to stop, then leap over the fallen runner to avoid spiking her and, in doing so, lose more than a second to the heat winner and overall second place team, Springfield Southeast. In the final event of the meet, the 4x400m relay, the Knights finished on a high note, however, placing second overall with a four-second season best time of 4:09.62. Freshmen Jamie Martens, Heinzer, Espino, and junior Olivia Galor combined to wage another rousing battle with Springfield Southeast in the second and final heat of the race, which was decided in the final stride to the finish line.
“This was a good meet for us, with everyone performing at or above their season best marks,” head girls coach Doug Ecker said. “We had some bad luck in the 4×200 relay, but we closed the meet with a great race in the 4×400, where Allie Heinzer ran a superb 58.7 split on her second leg to move us into the lead.”
The Knights open their 2015 outdoor season with the girls taking on Oregon in an away dual meet on Tuesday, April 7, then hosting the Holmes Invitational at Kaneland’s Peterson Field on Saturday, April 11. The Kaneland the boys will open their outdoor season at the Kaiwani’s Boys’ Track & Field Invitational at East Moline High School April 11.
Photos submitted by Keith Snyder to firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Sophomore Sarah Daley hands off to sophomore Becca Richtman in the 4x800m relay
Saturday. Photo by Marshall Farthing
Girls impressive on the track
STERLING, Ill.—A young girls’ track team came home from the Northern Illinois Big XII Conference Indoor Invitational last Saturday with second-place honors—and a dominating 96-point performance in the meet’s 10 track events.
Held at the Westwood Sports Center, the Knights won the 60 meter, 200m, 400m, and 4x200m relay, and placed second in the 400m, 800m, 3200m, 4x400m relay and 4x800m relay. They had two scorers in every track event except the 60m hurdles, where they did not place. Ten of the Knights’ 12 scorers in individual events were underclassmen.
Heavily-favored Yorkville continued its conference meet winning streak, however, by amassing 146 points to Kaneland’s 110. The difference came in the field events, where the Knights’ only points came from first- and fourth-place finishes in the pole vault by sophomores Lexie Guerra and Sydney Davidson, respectively.
The Knights were missing some jumpers who were playing in a major Midwest club volleyball tournament, and others who were ill and did not compete. Yorkville, on the other hand, scored in all five field events, won the high jump and shot put, and had two scorers in the high jump, pole vault, triple jump, and shot put. In total, the Foxes tallied 61 field event points to Kaneland’s 14.
Meet highlights for the Knights included sophomore Nicole Sreenan overcoming early-season low back problems to win the 60m dash and contribute a great leg to the 4x200m relay, which set a new conference indoor record. But the star of the meet was junior Allie Heinzer, who was third in the 60m, won the 200m and 400m meters, and anchored the winning 4x200m relay. The meet was a “coming out party” for Allie who, as a sophomore, had a great season last year but was hidden individually to a degree by running mostly the sprint relays. In total, Allie scored 28.5 points for the Knights.
Other standout performances for Kaneland included junior Brianna Bower’s second place in the 3200m and fourth-place finish in the 1600m, freshman Jamie Marten’s second place in the 400m, and junior Noelle Espino’s second place in the 800.
“We’re especially proud of Noelle,” head coach Doug Ecker said. “She’s overcome some major challenges and lowered her 800m best by almost 10 seconds from last season to win that silver medal in the 800m, and she won another silver in the 4×400 meter relay.”
Other critical team scoring came from sophomore Carly Elliott with fifth place in the 200m, senior Victoria Clinton with fifth place in the 3200m, and from junior Carly Bartholomew and senior Aislinn Lodwig with sixth-place points in the 800m and 1600m.
Looking ahead to the outdoor season, Ecker was optimistic.
“We are very pleased to have more than 50 girls out for track and a lot of young talent,” he said. “I feel that we have the potential to score more points in the field events as the season progresses, now that we can finally leave training in the hallways behind and actually jump outdoors off runways and into pits. We are very excited about this team.”
Top Times Qualifiers
Maddie Keifer: High Jump
Lexie Guerra: Pole Vault
Brianna Bower: 3200m
Victoria Clinton: 3200m
Noelle Espino: 800m
Jamie Martens: 400m
Allie Heinzer: 60m & 400m
Nicole Sreenan: 60m
The Knights won the Class 2A Sectional Championship last season and placed 11th at the 2014 State meet. Five individual State qualifiers return from that team, along with seven members of four relay teams that advanced to the State meet.
With senior leadership coming from Aislinn Lodwig in the middle distance races, the Knights expect big meet points to come from junior Brianna Bower in the metric mile and 2-mile races (1,600 and 3,200 meters), and from sophomore Nicole Sreenan, junior Allie Heinzer, sophomore Carley Elliott and junior Olivia Galor in the sprints and sprint relays.
Despite having to train indoors in crowded hallways with the boys during a winter that went seven weeks with only one day above freezing, to date the Kaneland girls have the fastest 2A indoor times in the state in the 4x200m and 4x400m relays, and the fifth-fastest time in the 4x800m relay.
In the field events, the Knights will be led by sophomores Maddie Keifer in the high jump and Lexie Guerra in the pole vault—events in which they were both county and conference meet scorers and state qualifiers last season as freshmen.
And the hits just keep on coming.
Head coach Doug Ecker reported that he has a large group of freshman who appear to be a very good track and field class, with sprinter/jumpers Crystal Durham, Shanya Hurston, and Jamie Martens, distance runner Andrea Wells, and pole vaulter Cierra Kuipers all having the potential to be varsity contributors this season.
Looking around the NIB-12, Ecker says that Yorkville is the clear favorite to win conference team honors this season, with its biggest competition expected to come from Geneseo. Despite their indoor season training limitations, he says he has been impressed by how high Maddie Keifer has jumped indoors (5 foot, 3 inches) and how Lexie Guerra has been vaulting consistently at, and above, 10 feet. The performances of junior Noelle Espino in the 800m and 4x400m relay indoors has been another pleasant surprise.
“Season to season, our goals are always the same. Train and compete in a way that keeps everyone healthy. Show steady improvement throughout the season. Try to win or place high in our invitational meets. Place among the top two or three teams at conference. Qualify for State and medal there in a number of individual events and relays,” Ecker said.
March 5 @ Bureau Valley
(Westwood Center, Sterling, Ill.)
TEAM SCORES: No team scores kept; five teams
60M: 1) Sreenan, 7.95; 4) Heinzer, 8.46; 6) Hurston, 8.53; 8) Elliott, 8.6; 9) Martens, 8.65; 10) Durham, 8.91; 19) Waweru, 9.47; 20) Bumsted, 9.49; 21) Jackson, 9.52; 27) McCauley, 10.19
200M: 1) Heinzer, 27.87; 2) Galor, 28.41; 3) Martens, 28.52; 5) Hurston, 29.00; 6) Elliott, 29.85; 10) Richtman, 30.53
400M: 3) Bartholomew, 1:08.20; 4) Kucera, 1:09.89; 5) Daley, 1:10.89; 6) Durham, 1:14.45
800M: 1) Espino, 2:28.64; 3) Shaw, 2:41.08; 4) Clinton, 2:41.13; 5) Ganz, 2:46.94; 12) Dries, 3:11.57; 13) Garcia, 3:15.99
1600M: 1) Bower, 5:33.33; 3) Wells, 6:06.48; 8) Klingensmith, 7:10.62; 9) Sommerville, 7:12.37; 10) Penkala, 7:15.51
4X200 RELAY: 1) Kaneland, 1:52.50; 4) Kaneland, 1:59.69; 8) Kaneland, 2:13.00
4X400 RELAY: 5) Kaneland, 5:09.02
4X800 RELAY: 1) Kaneland, 10:44.93; 2) Kaneland, 11:07.25; 3) Kaneland, 11:37.52
HIGH JUMP: 1) Keider, 5-02; 3) Davidson, 4-06
POLE VAULT: 1) Guerra, 10-00; 3) Davidson, 8-06; t-4) 6-06
LONG JUMP: 6) Martens, 13-09; 9) Durham, 13-03; 15) Ganz, 11-08; t-20) Andrews, Ransford, 11-08
TRIPLE JUMP: 3) Keifer, 31-04
SHOT PUT: 4) Crimmins, 28-00.5; 5) Van Bogaert 27-01.5; 8) Schaefer, 22-04.5
11) Collins, 20-01.5
March 9 @
Hononegah (HS) Classic
TEAM SCORES: 1) Cary-Grove, 84; 2) Lakes, 79.5; 3) Yorkville, 74; 4) West Aurora, 46; 5) Hononegah, 43; 6) Kaneland, 31; 7) Lake Park, 30.5; 8) Fenwick, 28; 9) Niles North, 24; 10) Harlem, 20; 11) McHenry, 18; 12) Joliet West, 17; 13) Schaumburg, 16; t-14) Burlington Central, Niles West, St. Charles East, Stagg, Streamwood, 12; 19) Guildford, 11; t-20) Hampshire, Maine South, 10; 22) Boylan, 9; t-23) DeKalb, St. Viator, 5; 25) Bartlett, 2; 26) Northside College Prep, 1
55M PRELIM: 12) Heinzer, 7.97; 20) Hurston, 8.10
55M FINAL: 6) Heinzer, 7.80
200M: 14) Elliott, 29.20
400M: 5) Henizer, 1:03.04; 7) Martens, 1:04.47
800M: 35) Richtman, 2:48.23; 36) Bartholomew, 2:48.49
1600M: 28) Kucera, 6:04.84
3200M: 3) Bower, 11:52.92; 11) Clinton, 12:21.49
55M HH PRELIMS: 18) Eaves, 10.14
200M HURDLES: 4) Eaves, 32.23; 24) Richtman, 34.80
4X200 RELAY: 18) Kaneland, 1:59.21
4X400 RELAY: 8) Kaneland, 4:26.64
DISTANCE MEDLEY RELAY: 4) Kaneland, 13:36.01
HIGH JUMP: 11) Keifer, 4-10; t-22) Gale, 4-06
POLE VAULT: 4) Guerra, 10-00; t-17) Davidson, 8-00; t-23) Kuipers, 7-06
LONG JUMP: 24) Martens, 14-01.25; 50) Durham, 12-02.25
SHOT PUT: 51) Crimmins, 26-02; 73) Edwards, 23-07.5; 82) Schaefer, 22-00; 92) Schultz, 21-01; 98) Collins, 19-00.5
March 9 @ Mustang Relays
(North Central College, Naperville, Ill.)
TEAM SCORES: No team scores kept; 35 teams
4X200 RELAY: 3) Kaneland, 1:45.21
4X400 RELAY: 12) Kaneland, 4:13.28
4X800 RELAY: 24) Kaneland, 10:15.84
WHEATON, ILL.—Competing against five teams with an average enrollment approaching 2,500 students, coach Doug Ecker’s girls track and field team last week opened the 2015 season against some of the best.
The Knights travelled to Wheaton-Warrenville South’s indoor track Feb. 26 and walked away with a fifth-place showing. Naperville Central ran away with the meet, scoring 133 points, followed by the host’s 106, Palatine’s 92.5, Hoffman Estates’ 74, KHS at 48.5 and Waubonsie Valley’s 42.
The Knights had one event winner in Lexie Guerra in the Pole Vault (10 feet). Sydney Davison tied for fourth in Pole Vault with a 7-06 effort. Also in the field events, Maddie Keifer opened with a 5-02 for third place in the High Jump.
On the track, Nicole Sreenan placed second in the 55m dash, running a blistering 7.48 seconds. The KHS 4x200m relay also took runner-up honors with a 1:53.48. Allie Heinzer placed third in the 400m dash in 1:05.09. The 4x800m relay placed fourth in 10:55.45, while the 4x400m relay was fifth in 4:29.75.
The Knights travel northward this Saturday to take on the 34-team field at the Hononegah Classic, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Then they head to North Central College in Naperville, Ill., Monday for the Downers Grove South Mustang Relays at 6:30 p.m.
KHS inducts 16 track and field athletes into Hall of Fame
MAPLE PARK—Kaneland High School on Feb. 7 and 14 inducted 16 track and field alumni into its Hall of Fame in recognition of their personal athletic achievements. All were individual State champions or members of State championship relay teams.
The class of nine tracksters recognized on Feb. 7 is the largest single Kaneland Hall of Fame class to be inducted in any sport. They were introduced during halftime of the Knights’ Girls Basketball Shoot-Out game versus Aurora Central Catholic following a reception and induction ceremony in the school library.
The inducted class included 1975 boys State champion 4x400m relay team members Marty Lyle, a Harley-riding, U.S. Navy veteran who now owns Marty’s Automotive Repair Shop in Aurora; Larry Will, a four-sport letterman who went on to help Illinois win two Big Ten Conference track championships, then, during his 26-years as an international airline pilot, became a national karate champion, multiple business owner, and private investment banker in Fort Myers, Fla.; Mark Claypool, founder and CEO of the global website company Optima Worldwide, who earlier at the 1975 State meet won the 440-yard dash and long jump, then in 1977 set the still-standing school 200/400m records before becoming a Big Ten champion, team captain, and NCAA All-America at Illinois; and Ron Ackerman, a three-sport star who also won the 1975 State title in the 880-yard run with a school record time that went unbroken for 38 years, then attended the University of Kentucky on a track scholarship before beginning a 31-year career as a West Chicago fireman, the last nine years of which he served as chief of the department before retiring in 2011.
Also celebrated on Feb. 7 were 1986 girls State champion 4x400m and 4x800m relay team members Amy Eddington-Fehrenbacher, daughter of Kaneland Hall of Fame track coach Larry Eddington, and herself a four-year State track meet qualifier, a six-time State track medalist, 1987 State 3200m champion, and the Knight’s first cross country State qualifier and All-State performer, who attended Marquette University on a track scholarship and is now a physical therapist, residing with her family in Batavia; Kerry Rink, an All-State performer in cross country, basketball and track, a three-time State champion in the 800m, and a third-place finisher in the State cross country meet before earning NCAA All-America honors at the University of Kentucky, and following from the Washington University School of Medicine, is now an occupational therapist who has worked for the Chicago, Los Angeles and San Diego school systems; Heidi Hagberg-Modaff, a four-year State track meet qualifier and member of school record 4×400/4x800m relay teams who, after graduating from Parkland College as a dental hygienist, has been employed for the past 27 years at Fairview Dental in Aurora while residing in Sugar Grove with her husband and three daughters; Malora Carson-Baumgartner, a four-sport letter-winner who went on to graduate from Northern Illinois with a degree in interior architecture and work for RGLA Architects before becoming a full-time soccer/swimming/ orchestra mom, chauffer, and super-fan for her two children while organizing local art awareness and faith-based activities; and Shelly McManus-Kalmas, a three-sport athlete, Kanelands’ first State track medalist, a four-time medal winner and member of its first State championship track team, who, after graduating from Lewis University, has continued to run competitively and is a nationally-ranked marathoner in her age group while being employed as a director of operations.
The seven inductees honored on Feb. 14 brought the Knights’ track and field Hall of Fame membership to a total of 25. They began with three of the four members of the 1989 boys State champion 4x800m relay team: Jim Probst, a pastor at Eastview Christian Church in downstate Illinois who was an All-Conference performer at North Central College after setting the still-standing Kaneland freshman mile record of 4:45; Dave Beebe, who recently succeeded his brother Don as athletic director and head football coach at Aurora Christian High School, after graduating from Northern Illinois University following a career as a three-sport athlete for the Knights; and Jon Stultz, currently a high-level USSS softball player and coach who was an All-Conference wide receiver at Kaneland, starter on the basketball team, and track team captain and State qualifier in three events.
Also inducted Feb. 14 were Jerry Oksas, co-owner of Tailwind outdoor furniture manufacturers, who was raised in a Maple Park family of pole vaulters before placing third in the state in 1989, winning the boys’ State title in 1990, and going on to compete collegiately at Southern Illinois University; Marty Keifer, the 1998 boys State pole vault champion whose career began in sixth grade, clearing a bar suspended between two trees in his back yard, and culminated with him clearing a personal best height of 17 feet, 1 inch, at the Missouri Invitational as a University of Illinois senior, before joining the staff of Knights head coach Ralph Drendel and coaching multiple state pole vault medalists and champions himself; Kurt Long, 1999 boys State pole vault champion and member of the exclusive 15-foot vaulters’ club, a member of 1998-99 Kaneland State football championship teams who, with his wife Mary, now reside in Sycamore and enjoy supporting their three children’s interests in sports; and Janine Zylinski, owner of an Algonquin custom cake business who was the 2004 girls State shot put champion before going on to compete at Illinois State and then Ohio State, where she was a NCAA All-America performer with a best throw of 54’, 6.5”.
Kaneland grad Heckert utilizes experience to coach, run marathons
PLAINFIELD, Ill.—As a multi-sport athlete at Kaneland High School nearly a full decade ago, Kristen Heckert used her immense talent to cross many a State-qualifying finish line.
Now as a math teacher and coach at Plainfield South High School, she’s been responsible for honing young athletes’ talent, while finding time to reach finish lines as a member of New Balance Chicago racing.
Having finished her college athletics career at University of Illinois-Chicago, Heckert soon made her way to a teaching post at KHS before landing at Plainfield South before the 2012-13 school year.
Heckert was the girls cross country coach this past season and assistant track coach, and plans to step into an assistant XC role to better concentrate on marathons when the New Balance banners fly.
There’s important overlap with the two.
“I try to talk about my running a little bit,” Heckert said. “I stepped down to an assistant for more time to train. My running is really important to me and I want to see what I can do with it. I didn’t want it to conflict with coaching. They should have a coach that is with them 100 percent, and nothing is more important than that,” Heckert said.
If anything, Heckert gets a built-in support staff in addition to her New Balance racing outfit, which most recently saw a 36:03 effort at United Run For The Zoo at Lincoln Park Zoo, tops in the 10K women’s division.
“They know that I am competing and know what my end goal is, but it’s not about me, it’s about the girls. They are so supportive, and the coaching staff and boys program is so supportive. It helps, because you let them know they always have to stretch and run. These kids are doing it all the time and combined with school. It just gives you an extra push,” Heckert said.
Now a three-time veteran of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon held in October, Heckert finished in 20th in the womens’ division with a 2:47.56 in 2012 and 2:44.12 in 2013. From the former Lady Knight’s perspective, there’s nothing not to like about the experience.
“There’s not outside pressure ever,” Heckert said. “There’s so many people. The pressue comes from ourselves. It’s kind of ‘go out there and see what you can do.” The racing team is so supportive and everyone wants the best for you. It’s a wonderful experience. To get that support from people who don’t even know you and are out at six in the morning, it’s wonderful and it’s a great accomplishment for anyone who does it.”
Having also competed in the Chicago Half-Marathon in September with a time of 1:19.18 and the DeKalb Corn Classic 10K last summer in 36:11, Heckert has plenty of great performances to draw from and still tries to match memorable runner highs.
“That first marathon was so perfect, it felt good. I thought they were all going to be that way, but the last two were so painful and hurt so much. I’ve been so lucky when it comes to injuries. You always wake up sore, but I haven’t had anything where I need to take time off, so I’m very thankful for that,” Heckert said.
With her 2012 Bank of America time in Chicago and top Illinois finisher, Heckert was able to be invited to a marathon in Osaka, Japan, but declined the task because it coincided with Plainfield South cross country regionals.
She was once again the top Illinois finisher in 2013, and Osaka won’t be a problem with an assistant coach job.
“If Osaka is offered to me this year, I’ll definitely take it,” Heckert said.
Heckert has more aspirations, only in the form of U.S. Olympic Trials in Los Angeles in 20 months, where she’ll need a 2:43.
“I would love to run in the Olympic Trials (March 2016), that’s the end-all, be-all goal. I have a lot of opportunities with coaching and teammates. I would love to do that with running, and be running with the top Americans ever,” Heckert said.
With her brothers and sisters in cross-trainers, the journey will be noteworthy and fast.
“We always do the Palos race, the Soldier Field 10-miler—those will wipe me out—and the Zoo race is sponsored by New Balance,” Heckert said. “We do the Human Race in Oak Brook, which has the money go to great causes. I don’t like racing a lot, and I’ve raced a lot this year. I love training.”
Photos: Freshman Nicole Sreenan (right) earned All-State accolades in four events at the IHSA State Meet: 100m dash (eighth, 12.50), 400m dash (third, 56.34), 4x100m relay (sixth, 49.03) and 4x200m relay (eighth, 1:45.25). Freshman Carly Elliott (1899) hands off to sophomore Allie Heinzer (below, left) during the 4x100m relay final at the IHSA State Meet Saturday. The quartet of Elliott, Heinzer, Nicole Sreenan and Lauren Zick placed sixth.
Photos by Ben Draper
Kaneland girls track’s trek to EIU ends with 11th place in team standings
KANELAND—Chalk up the recent trip to Charleston, Ill., as a productive one for Kaneland girls track.
With 21 team points at the Class 2A State meet held at O’Brien Field on the campus of Eastern Illinois University, the Lady Knights took 11th overall in the state out of all qualified 2A programs.
The Lady Knights beat out Northern Illinois Big XII crossover rival Dixon by two points to hold onto 11th, while KHS was just three points behind Fenwick of Oak Park, Ill., for 10th.
“It was by far the most talented team we have ever had as far as speed was concerned,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “We also had very good depth at the other events as well, as shown by the fact we had individuals or relay teams qualify in 11 events for state and then be able to place in six of those at State.”
Cahokia (61), Normal University (54), Chicago’s Noble Street Charter/Johnson (38), Springfield (36) and Chicago’s Brooks (33) filled out the top five slots.
Kaneland even saw All-State finishes from three of their relays. The 4x100m relay squad of Carly Elliott, Allie Heinzer, Nicole Sreenan and Lauren Zick finished sixth overall with a time of 49.03 after running 49.13 in Friday’s prelims. The 4x200m relay of Olivia Galor, Becca Richtman, Heinzer and Elliott ran a 1:45.25 for eighth place. Finally, the 4x400m group of Galor, Sreenan, Sydney Strang and Heinzer took seventh at 4:01.60 for all-State honors.
Sreenan was also All-State in both the 100m (eighth) and 400m (third) dashes. Sreenan finished her 2014 season with a 56.34 in the 400m final gathering, .69 off the pace of Cahokia’s Mariya Hudson. Her 12.50 effort in the 100m earned her the final All-State spot in that event.
Other finalists from Saturday’s action representing Kaneland were Christina Delach, finishing seventh in pole vault with 10 feet, 9 inches, which earned the senior all-State honors.
Maddie Keifer finished 15th in high jump with a 5-footer.
In the 3,200m run finals, Brianna Bower finished 13th with a time of 11:26.53.
KHS also had plenty of other State entries compete on Friday, with Elle Tattoni throwing a 35-08 in the shot put and a 108-02 in discus.
The 4x800m relay of Richtman, Aislinn Lodwig, Jessica Kucera and Strang ran a 10:01.18.
Capping a productive girls track season saw highlights on the point scale, but also in the personnel themselves.
“The indoor NIB-12 invitational championship and the second sectional team championship were the team highlights,”Ecker said. “(It was a) responsible and hard-working group of girls with excellent leadership from the seniors.”
Eleven separate events qualify for Charleston, Ill., State gathering
KANELAND—You can’t count out the Kaneland High School girls track unit just yet, if anything, because the IHSA Class 2A State finals would have many holes to fill.
The Lady Knights made themselves at home during the Class 2A Freeport Sectional on Friday afternoon, winning the event and getting 11 separate events through to Eastern Illinois University and the IHSA Class 2A State finals.
Kaneland’s 100-point total was two better than rival Sycamore, while Freeport (70), Boylan Catholic (62) and Burlington Central (61) rounded out the top five. Sterling (47), Dixon (35), Genoa-Kingston (23), Winnebago (23) and Pecatonica (14) completed the top 10 rankings.
Kaneland’s bounty headed to EIU begins with Elle Tattoni, who first qualified in the discus with a fourth-place effort of 112 feet, four inches, and became shot put sectional champion with a mark of 37-08.
In the high jump, Kaneland’s Maddie Keifer finished second with a mark of 5 feet.
“It was terrific and a great experience,” Keifer said. “I didn’t know what to expect going in, but to get out of Sectionals was really great.
The whole team keeps our spirits up, and they made me realize I want to be like that.”
Christina Delach of Kaneland punched another ticket to Charleston, Ill., by winning the pole vault with a mark of 10-03.
In her second year of qualifying, Delach decided to mix it up.
“This year was a lot less strength training and more technique. It was me getting out of my own way, mostly,” Delach said.
Nicole Sreenan continued to cap her stellar freshman season by conquering the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.55 seconds.
Brianna Bower, with an 11:27.84 time, took third in the 3,200m run and qualified for State.
In relay action, the Kaneland foursome of Jessica Kucera, Aislinn Lodwig, Sydney Strang and Becca Richtman took third place with a 9:50.84 time, after an initial time issue was later resolved by the IHSA and the unit was allowed into the State gathering. A #letkanelandrun hashtag had been repeated on Twitter to compel the IHSA to allow Kaneland in.
Strang, who qualified in both the 4×800 and 4×400, was relieved at the eventual good fortune.
“We would have qualified with a 9:50, but the clock circuit went out mid-race. They just told us they’d take the top two, even though we made it. We found out Saturday night, so we were pretty bummed for awhile,” Strang said.
In the 4×100 event, KHS took first with a 50.13 effort. The 4x200m relay had Kaneland finish second at 1:47.36 for another State qualification.
Sreenan found another berth with a second place in the 400m dash with a time of 57.54.
Relay went Kaneland’s way again in the 4x400m, thanks to a first-place 4:04.29 effort.
“The 4×800 is heavily distance girls, and the 4×400 is sprinters.
They’re all different groups, but we all mesh together,” Strang said.
The 2A finals begin on Friday and conclude on Saturday at Eastern Illinois University.
sparks social media push
for Lady Knights relay
by Ben Draper
KANELAND—Late Friday evening, Kaneland pole vault coach Andy Drendel posted a frustrated tweet on social media website Twitter.com. At the end of the post, he included a hashtag: #LetKanelandRun. Over the next 24 hours, a whirlwind of support surrounded a relay team that thought they had qualified, but due to an IHSA rule, had the opportunity seemingly stripped from them.
Earlier that evening, the FAT (Fully Automated Timing) system went down at the worst-possible time: in the middle of a race at the Freeport Sectional. Due to a IHSA rule stating that if there aren’t official FAT times at a sectional meet, only the top two teams would be allowed to advance to this weekend’s state meet. This meant that Kaneland’s 4x800m relay of Jessica Kucera, Aislinn Lodwig, Sydney Strang and Becca Richtman, who placed third and were over eight seconds under the qualifying time, would not be allowed to compete at the IHSA State meet.
However, Drendel’s tweet spurred support from not only the Kaneland community, but from athletes, coaches, teams and more from all over the state. Newspapers published opinion pieces calling for a common sense solution. Coaches scratched their heads at how an opportunity could so easily be taken away from deserving athletes. But the #LetKanelandRun hashtag kept the momentum alive, with many directly mentioning the IHSA on Twitter or over email, but receiving only silence from the organization.
Kaneland head girls coach Doug Ecker said Saturday that he didn’t expect a reversal on the decision.
But shortly after 10 p.m. on Saturday, the IHSA showed it was in fact listening. The organization announced that Kaneland, as well as the fourth-place team Rock Falls, would in fact be allowed to compete in Friday’s state meet prelims.
It took some behind-the-scenes actions from interim athletic director Ralph Drendel working with IHSA Assistant Executive Director Ron McGraw on Saturday, but the best possible scenario played out for the four girls that should have been assured they earned a spot the day prior: The IHSA would in fact #LetKanelandRun.
Photo: Elle Tattoni had a big day in the throws, placing second in the shot put and third in discus at the NIB-12 Conference Championship in Dixon, Ill. Photo by Mary Paulson
Girls track takes second at conference
KANELAND—KHS girls track did about at as well as it could have, when the Yorkville adversary had a day like it had.
Kaneland’s 104.5 point total at the fourth-ever Northern Illinois Big XII meet in Dixon, Ill., was second only to Yorkville’s 152.
Geneseo (70), Sycamore (52) and Sterling (50) rounded out the top five. DeKalb at 48, Dixon at 37 and LaSalle-Peru at 22.5 took the sixth through eighth spots, and Morris (20) and Ottawa (1) rounded out the scoring schools. Rochelle and Streator failed to register points.
“I was happy with their effort as usual,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “I thought we were the second-best team coming in and thats how it finished. The sprinters and throwers at the varsity level performed very well.”
Friday also marked the final NIB-12 girls track gathering to feature Dixon and Streator, with both schools vacating the conference at the end of the current school year.
In the 100m dash, the sprints held their own, with Lauren Zick taking second at 12.57, followed by Nicole Sreenan in third just .02 behind.
Sreenan became NIB-12 champ in the 200m dash with a time of 26.22, while Zick was overcome with a leg injury during the race and was unable to finish.
“From what I saw, Lauren was into the straight away after a fantastic curve and appeared to lose her balance because her legs were moving so fast and just fell down mid stride,” KHS assistant track coach Keith Snyder said. “She got X-rays Monday at Fox Valley Ortho, which showed no fracture, but that it is a high ankle sprain. She and our trainer have been diligent and aggressive in her rehab. She’ll go back to Fox Valley on Monday for a follow-up, and they’ll let her know whether they think she can run at State or not.”
Nothing fundamentally changes, according to Zick’s event coach.
“Luckily, we have more depth than we are accustomed to this season and are able to put in great runners into the relays for her,” Snyder said. “This group of girls is accustomed to success with and without her; we’re going to put together our best relays and see where that puts us. For these young girls, it’s an opportunity to go out and make a name for themselves just like Lauren did when she was an underclassman.”
Sreenan continued her productive evening by finishing second in the 400m dash at 58.53, ahead of teammate Allie Heinzer’s third and 1:01.37.
Hurdle happenings saw Kyla Goodine take sixth in the finals of the 100m at 17.26.
In the relay section, the foursome of Lexie Guerra, Heinzer, Sreeenan and Carly Elliott claimed the 4x100m event at 50.58. The 4x200m also won at 1:47.57, thanks to the efforts of Olivia Galor, Zick, Becca Richtman and Elliott. In the 4x400m, Kaneland’s Galor, Richtman, Sydney Strang and Heinzer took fourth at 4:10.24. The unit of Richtman, Aislinn Lodwig, Jessica Kucera and Strang managed a fourth at 10:03.82.
Field events also had a degree of success, with Maddie Keifer taking fourth in the high jump at 5 feet. Zick’s 17-07 in the long jump secured second place for Kaneland, while pole vault benefitted from Christina Delach’s win (10-6) and Guerra’s sixth place (8 feet).
Throwing competition saw Elle Tattoni take second in the shot put at 35-09.75, 3-9.75 behind YHS standout MacKenzie Lee, while Kaneland’s Brittany Kemp took sixth at 32-11. Tattoni also took a third in the discus at 105-02.
On Friday, May 16, the postseason charge begins for the Lady Knights roster at the Class 2A Freeport Sectional. KHS rivals also slated to appear in the 16-team event are Burlington Central, Dixon, Rochelle, Sterling and Sycamore.
Lead-up to Kane County competition yields plenty of good news with first place
KANELAND—On a Friday night at Grant High School in Fox Lake, Ill., the Lady Knights’ track outfit was out hunting hardware and great totals.
Now in the homestretch to the pivotal and historic Kane County Invite, the Lady Knights took it to the field at the Wauconda Invitational by nabbing a first place with 111 team points.
The next closest team was co-host Grant with 98.3 points. KHS rival Hampshire’s 93, Lake Forest’s 88.3 and Vernon Hills’ 61 rounded out the top five in the nine-team exchange, with Wauconda, Deerfield, Carmel of Mundelein, Ill., and Round Lake bringing up the rear.
A scheduled Monday trip to Manlius, Ill., for a meet at Bureau Valley High School was cancelled.
Noteworthy finishers up in Lake County for the Knights included the 4×100 meter relay foursome of Carly Elliott, Allie Heinzer, Lauren Zick and Nicole Sreenan, who torched the lane with a 49.40 first-place effort.
Other relay action included the 4x200m unit of Olivia Galor, Heinzer, Zick and Elliott winning at 1:46.40. The 4x400m group of Galor, Sreenan, Strang and Heinzer took second at 4:06.0.
KHS coach Doug Ecker said that the foursomes aren’t completely set in stone, but off to a great start.
“The relays are progressing well,” Ecker said. “The 4×200 and 4×100 are pretty much set for who will be running on them. We are still not sure who will be on the 4×800 relay and 4×400 relays. There is still competition for those relays spots. They have run well in all the relays, but there is still room for improvement in each, especially the 4×800 and 4×400 relays. We have seen improvement from all the girls the past few weeks.”
On the distance front, Lady Knight Brianna Bower finished second with an effort of 11:23.70, and second in the 1,600m run with a 5:23.70 pace. Teammate Sydney Strang secured second place in the 800m run at 2:26.
Sprints saw Zick master the 200m dash at 25.00, 1.20 better than her Lake Forest challenger.
Field events saw Zick best the long jump at 17 feet, 6 inches. Maddie Keifer finished second in the high jump with a 5-foot launch. Elle Tattoni threw a 111-10.5 for third place in discus action, and Christina Delach’s 10-foot try in the pole vault won the event.
Friday, May 2, sees Kaneland host the annual Kane County Invitational, with the Lady Knights looking to defend the Maple Park turf against 21 other opponents, with a 4 p.m. start.