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Kane and gain

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Castellanos wins triple jump, team takes 3rd at Kane County Invite
by Mike Slodki
GENEVA—For the first time since 2005, the girls version of the Kane County Invite was hosted by Geneva. You’d have to go back to the days of athletes like Kristen Heckert and Holly Gruenke from not-so-long ago.

This past Friday in Geneva, Kaneland girls did their best to keep up with ghosts of KHS past at the traditional homestretch meet, and did well for themselves.

With a total output of 83 points, the Lady Knights beat out Hampshire by 12 points for the third-place slot. West Aurora won its fourth straight invite with 131 points, followed by St. Charles East at 100.5.

The hosts finished with 69 to round out the top five. Former conference rival Batavia finished with 54 to take sixth.

Ashley Castellanos conquered the field in the triple jump by jumping a 35 foot distance. She also finished fourth in the 100 meter dash finals with a 13.27-second time.

“She’s doing very well and performing very consistently,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said.

Castellanos said she felt good things were in store for Friday, and with it, the season.

“It’s beautiful weather out here, it’s perfect and comfortable,” Castellanos said. “There’s a little breeze. I feel like I’m improving each and every meet in the triple jump and working on my phases.”

Teammate Lauren Zick took third in the 200m dash finals at 26.09, after winning the preliminaries, and ran a 59.14 in the 400m dash for a fourth place finish.

Productive sophomore Victoria Clinton, in the 1600m run, finished with a 5:19.22 time, while freshman teammate Brianna Bower managed a fourth overall in the 3200m run with a 11:38.76.

Lady Knight freshman Kyla Goodine can claim a finals appearance in her first-ever try in the Kane County setting, by taking seventh in the entire field of 100m hurdles girls with a time with a 17.69.

“I think it’s going good,” Goodine said. “I still think I have some room for improvement, but I’m working hard and hopefully I can get to State.”

In the 4x100m relay battle, KHS finished second overall with a time of 49.92, thanks to the efforts of Kaltrina Ismaili, Allie Heinzer, Castellanos and Zick. Kaneland came back in the 4x400m relay by having Amanda Lesak, Sydney Strang, Castellanos and Heinzer take fourth at 4:09.79. The 4x800m entries of Lesak, Strang, Aislinn Lodwig and Clinton took third at 9:47.34.

The field events turned out quite productive as well. In addition to Castellanos’s win in the triple jump, Zick earned second in the long jump at 17 feet, one inch.

Teammate Ellie Tattoni saw a good night in the discus throw, by completing a 119-02 try for third.

Against Morris and Yorkville on Tuesday, Kaneland earned a narrow three-point win over the host Lady Foxes, putting 86 points on the board.

Kaneland travels to the Northern Illinois Big XII meet on Friday, May 3, hosted by DeKalb.

Road trip success

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KHS girls track wins the day Monday at Bureau Valley
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—With the Dixon Relays gone by the wayside and Kaneland girls track looking for more meets before the usual Kane County Meet excursion in late April, the Lady Knights found one on Monday in an unlikely location.

That unlikely location provided big dividends, in the form of Bureau Valley High School’s four-team meet in Manlius, Ill.

KHS put together a total of 104 points, compared to Cambridge’s 58.5, Bureau Valley’s 54.5 and West Carroll’s 54.

“The meet at Bureau Valley was a weekday meet that everyone could run in,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “We could not find one locally. It went very well; a nice day. They run a very good meet.”

First-place honors scattered the home of the Storm, beginning with the Lady Knights’ 4×800 meter relay of Maggie Brundige, Amanda Lesak, Abby Dodis and Brianna Bower taking the course at 10:30.33. The 4x100m foursome for KHS ran a first-place 51.55 thanks to the efforts of Kaltrina Ismaili, Allie Heinzer, Ashley Castellanos and Lauren Zick.

Kyla Goodine’s 17.50 in the 100m hurdles took the crown, and teammate Sydney Strang claimed the 800m run at 2:24.89.

The 4x200m relay also enjoyed first-place spoils with a 1:55.34 effort from Ismaili, Rachel Steinmiller, Noelle Espino and Heinzer, and Victoria Clinton outran the field in the 1600m run with a 5:24.66 effort. KHS swept the top five spots in that event.

More relay glory was to come with the 4x200m relay unit of Jessica Kucera, Aislinn Lodwig, Castellanos and Heinzer taking first with a time of 4:20.65.

KHS also made its presence felt in the accompanying field events, thanks to athletes like Zick, with a first-place effort of 17 feet, 1.5 inches in the long jump. Castellanos owned the triple jump group with a mark of 34 feet, 6.25 inches.

On Friday, April 26, the Lady Knights make the leap to the annual Kane County Invite, hosted by current Upstate Eight Conference school Geneva. Tuesday, April 30, has KHS hosting Morris and Yorkville in a Northern Illinois Big XII triangular.

Kaneland looks to try to improve last year’s output, held at St. Charles North. KHS took eighth in the gathering won by West Aurora.

KHS takes 2nd at Jenni’s ABC meet

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Track team battles cold, competition at home on Saturday
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—What happens when you can’t get a grasp on your ABC’s?

Keep trying.

Kaneland girls track squad was able to take to the frigid grounds at Peterson Field for the annual Jenni’s ABC Meet on Saturday.

When the dust settled, the Lady Knights were able to walk away with a second-place finish out of six teams.

“In cold weather you have to stay more active, a longer warm-up where you build up more slowly, and dress appropriately for the cold,” said KHS head track coach Doug Ecker. “I thought the girls competed very hard on Saturday and were focused on not letting the weather distract them. It showed in their performances.”

The Huntley Red Raiders came away with the first-place honor, thanks to a 324-point output, compared to Kaneland’s 301. Boylan Catholic of Rockford managed third place thanks to a 219-point total.

Aurora outfit Rosary (203), Rock Falls (171) and Lemont’s Mt. Assisi Academy (66) filled out the bottom half of the standings.

With the track and field events grouped in “A” “B” and “C” flights, the room for success was ample for the Kaneland program.

For the 100 meter dash “A” event, it was Kaneland’s Lauren Zick who was able to power through the field and manage a first with a 12.30 second effort.

Zick came through again in the 200m dash “A” event with a first-place time of 25.65 seconds, followed closely by Kaneland teammate Allie Heinzer in second with a time of 27.57. In the 800m run “A” event, Kaneland’s presence was marked by the top two finishers: sophomores Victoria Clinton (2:34.47) and Jessica Kucera (2:43.76) followed with a win in the “B” flight.

The 1600m run “A” event saw Lady Knight Sydney Strang take the race with a time of 5:40.30, 22 seconds better than her closest competitor.

Meanwhile, in the 3200m run “B” event, it was KHS competitor Brianna Bower outlasting the field at 11:46.39, followed by fellow Lady Knight Abby Dodis at 12:27.80 in the “A” flight.

In the 300m hurdles “A” competition, the Lady Knights were represented in the top tier by Amanda Lesak with a second-place finish of 51.14 seconds.

Relay action saw a second place for the 4x400m relay “A” foursome of Lesak, Ashley Castellanos, Clinton and Zick with a time of 4:17.72, while the 4x800m relay “A” unit of Lesak, Kucera, Aislinn Lodwig and Maggie Brundige conquered the field at 10:29.45.

The field events had their share of highlights, beginning with Christina Delach in the pole vault. The junior managed a meet-best nine feet, six inches. Kaneland’s Zick (17-06) and Castellanos (16-08.25) took care of the long jump field at the top two places.

Castellanos’ 33-09.5 was also tops in the triple jump field.

Sophomore standout Elle Tattoni was able to wrangle second place in the shot put with an effort of 34-.5, and do well in the discus throw with a second-place, 98-1 effort. The top finisher in the category was Boylan’s Lindsay Herra at 124-1.

The girls head to the Wauconda Invitational on Friday, April 19.

Big win, small margin

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Junior Lauren Zick placed second in the long jump at the Jill Holmes Invitational Saturday with a leap of 16 feet, 9.5 inches. Photo by Patti Wilk

KHS earns slim team win at home meet
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—There’s nothing like seeing what you’re made of on your home track.

Kaneland girls track has a lot of substance and talent, based on the first-place output at the annual Jill Holmes Invite on Saturday.

The 160.5-point output from the Lady Knights beat Northern Illinois Big XII rival DeKalb by one.

Hononegah, Oswego East and Rosary rounded out the top five with 120.5, 118.5 and 108, respectively.

Rival Sycamore took sixth with 77 points, while Burlington Central was seventh with 63. Familiar foe to the north Belvidere took 11th with 21 points.

Capable senior Ashley Castellanos left the 200 meter dash field in her wake with a first-place finals effort of 27.49 seconds, .2 seconds better than Belvidere’s Kelsey Stone, while junior Lauren Zick’s 59.80 time in the 400m dash earned a first as well.

Junior Sydney Strang took fourth in the 800m run finals with a time of 2:27.75, and teammates Victoria Clinton (5:29.40) and Brianna Bower (5:34.66) acclimated themselves well in the 1600m run, taking second and third, respectively.

Bower came back to finish second in the finals of the 3200m run, thanks to a finish of 11:53.04, while senior Abby Dodis took fourth at 12:41.27.

Lady Knight Amanda Lesak battled through the 300m low hurdles final field to take fourth with an effort of 51.52.

In the 4x100m relay race, Kaneland’s foursome of Kaltrina Ismaili, Allie Heinzer, Olivia Galor and Zick won the field with a time of 51.34 in the finals.

Ismaili, Lesak, Strang and Heinzer managed a fourth for the 4x400m relay finals, thanks to a 4:23.17 time, while Lesak, Jessica Kucera, Clinton and Strang won the 4x800m relay race at 10:17.5

Junior Christina Delach’s second place in the pole vault was due to an effort of eight feet, six inches, while Zick’s 16-9.5 was second in the long jump finals.

Castellanos put in productive field time with a second-place 35-6.25 in the triple jump.

The throwing events were handled quite well by sophomore Elle Tattoni.

The KHS talent took fourth in the shot put at 29-11.25, and claimed the discus mantle at 101-04.

Tattoni was glad to get outdoors for track competition and is seeing what works with plenty of time left in the season.

“I was a little shaky on that first Tuesday meet,” Tattoni said. “Now it’s early in the season and the weather’s warming up, so we should be good. I’m seeing what works and trying some new things.”

The Lady Knights also did battle with host Sycamore on Tuesday and returned home on the wrong end of a 73-63 result.

The Lady Knights head to Ottawa for the ABC Invitational on Friday, April 12, followed by Jenni’s ABC Meet on Saturday, April 13, in Maple Park.

Girls track makes case at IWU

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Illinois Top Times outing sees 11th-place finish for indoor
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—The Illinois Indoor Track Championship Top Times Track and Field held on Saturday marks the unofficial state meet for indoor track competition.

Kaneland girls track made sure to officially put a stamp on the festivities in a nice send-off to the indoor slate.

The Class AA gathering at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Ill. saw KHS nab 11th place overall with a finals point total of 19 points, tied with downstate Mahomet-Seymour.

Carbondale was first overall with 36 points, followed by Chicago fixture Lindblom with 30. Area rival Marengo was third with 26, followed by Burlington Central with 25.5. Nearby Hampshire was seventh with a total of 23.5.

The Lady Knights made their presence known in several events, beginning with the 60 meter dash. Junior Lauren Zick placed eighth with a time of 7.96 seconds, after earning seventh in the preliminary heat with a 7.97.

Kaneland did well for itself in the demanding 3200m run field, with freshman Brianna Bower taking fourth at 11:26.46, and senior teammate Abby Dodis taking ninth at 11:48.27.

In the 4x400m relay, Kaneland’s entry worked toward a fourth-place nod with a time of 4:08.82, and the 4x800m counterpart took 11th with a time of 10:10.79.

The Lady Knights saw Zick at it again in the field categories, with a mark of 18 feet, five inches in the long jump, just an inch behind Lakes’ Brittani Griesbaum.

“I thought that everyone who competed did well,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “We had indoor personal bests from almost everyone. Brianna Bower in the 3200 meter run and Lauren’s long jump stand out. Abby Dodis in the 3200 meter run was a big breakthrough for her. We are relatively healthy and ready for some good weather for the outdoor season,” Ecker said.

The outdoor season commences for KHS on Tuesday, April 2, at Burlington Central, in a triangular also featuring Oregon.

Indoor success

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KHS girls track takes 2nd at NIB-12 indoor meet
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—The number 100 has a nice round edge to it, especially when Kaneland girls track gets that edge.

With the 100 point total on the grounds of Sterling High School for the Northern Illinois Big XII Conference indoor meet, the Lady Knights are sitting quite well leading into the outdoor season.

“(It was) a very good effort all the away around for all the girls,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “It was a step in the right direction for outdoor season when we should have the full team in place.”

Yorkville’s group finished first with 110 points. Geneseo at 88, DeKalb at 55.5 and Sterling at 34.5 rounded out the top three.

Sycamore (29), Morris (19), Dixon (10), Rochelle (10), Ottawa (7) and LaSalle-Peru (2) completed the indoor field.

The exemplary scores were frequent for the Kaneland-clad team in the field events.

Junior Christina Delach’s 8 foot, three inch pole vault effort earned a second-place. Junior Lauren Zick’s 16-10.25 in the long jump was good for third place overall. Senior teammate and triple jump standout Ashley Castellanos took fourth in her event with a 34-foot effort.

Elle Tattoni continued the KHS fortunes in the field by earning third place in the shot put, chucking 34-1.5.

In the track events, freshman Brianna Bower took third in the 3200m run with a time of 11:35.47, while elder teammate Abby Dodis took fourth at 12:24.48. The Kaneland 4x800m relay was second-best at 10:38.27, and in the 60 meter dash, Zick excelled with a first-place 7.92 time.

The KHS 4x200m relay foursome was first overall with a time of 1:51.77, beating DeKalb by .30 seconds, while Zick made her presence felt in the 400m dash by taking second at 1:00.08, and first in the 200m dash at 26.62, while Castellanos took fourth in the same event at 28.01.

Kaneland’s day ended with a 4:15.95 first-place time.

“We were very happy with the 4×200 and 4×400 relay to win those races with very good times without Zick running on either one. (Brianna) Bower ran an excellent 3200 in 11:35, with only Amy Eddington, the 1987 State champion at that event, having run faster for Kaneland. Lauren Zick and Ashley Castellanos had excellent days placing in four events,” Ecker said.

KHS girls take to the outdoor track at Burlington Central, meeting the host Lady Rockets and Oregon Hawks on Tuesday, April 2, at 4:30 p.m.

Weather delays season start

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Kaneland—The cold and lingering snow forced Kaneland to cancel all outdoor sporting events through at least Saturday, March 23.

Officials made the decision due to a combination of predicted cold temperatures that would make some of the sports unsafe to play outdoors, as well as poor field conditions with the remaining snow on the ground.

According to Kaneland Athletics Department Secretary Linda Kelley, revised practice schedules and specific locations will be determined by each sport’s coaching staff. She said that schools will try to reschedule conference games as soon as possible, while non-conference games may end up being cancelled outright.

As of press time, KHS sports schedules will return to normal on Monday, March 25.

Back On ‘TRACK’ | 2013 Spring Sports Preview

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Photo: Ashley Castellanos (right) put in good work last year at the Jill Holmes Invitational, including winning this 100 meter dash. File Photo

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—For Kaneland girls track, each season is a like a new generation. As athletes advance through their careers, they gain experience and attain success, and then pass down what they’ve learned to the younger athletes just starting on their own paths.

“The girls have always had a good work ethic, for the 28 years I have been here, and that is due to younger girls learning from the older ones by their actions and approach to practice and meets,” long-time KHS head coach Doug Ecker said.

There are many lessons to be learned from the successes of last year. Kaneland will see one state finalist return to the fold, as well as five other state qualifiers. Add to that an individual Northern Illinois Big XII Conference Champ, and Ecker has plenty of reasons to feel good about this year’s prospects.

Returning from a trip downstate to close out last season are Sydney Strang, an 800 meter State Finalist, distance runner Maggie Brundige, sprinter Kaltrina Ismaili, distance runner Jessica Kucera, distance/hurdler Amanda Lesak, and jumper/sprinter Lauren Zick. In addition, NIB-12 shot put champ Elle Tattoni returns as well, to help form a solid core of team leadership. Even beyond those who advanced in the postseason last year, Ecker said there are already plenty of examples of upper classmen helping the younger members of the team.

“We are proud of all the girls. We have seen leadership from Zick, Ismaili, Ashley Castellanos and the senior distance runners,” Ecker said.

New additions to the varsity mix could be in line for big things in 2013, with the onset of freshmen sprinters Olivia Galor and Allie Heinzer.

“(Galor and Heinzler) give us good depth in the sprint and sprint relays, something we have not had in a long time,” Ecker said.

Shoring up the middle distance and distance ranks, according to Ecker, are cross country strengths Brianna Bower, a freshman, and sophomore Victoria Clinton.

The Lady Knights will do their best to hang with the conference rivals, and looks to be in good standing to to so.

“It is early, but the conference seems to be balanced this year. Yorkville has their distance crew and an All-State transfer in the jumps and sprints. DeKalb will be strong, and Sycamore is improved. Geneseo is always strong in track and will be this year, as well,” Ecker said.

Kaneland takes to the outdoor meets in 2013 on Tuesday, April 2, in Burlington, along with fellow visitor Oregon. The noted Jill Holmes Invite occurs on Saturday, April 6.

KHS Girls Track Roster

Carly Bartholomew 9
Brianna Booton 9
Brianna Bower 9
Maggie Brundige 12
Angelia Carbonara 12
Erika Carlson 11
Ashley Castellanos 12
Victoria Clinton 10
Christina Delach 11
Laken Delahanty 12
Abby Dodis 12
Noelle Espino 9
Olivia Galor 9
Ashley Garcia 9
Murphy Garcia 10
Kayla Girolamo 9
Kyla Goodine 11
Samantha Havlin 10
Jordan Hedgren 9
Allie Heinzer 9
Kaltrina Ismaili 10
Brittany Kemp 11
Lilah Klingensmith 9
Sarah Kolzow 9
Jessica Kucera 10
Amanda Lesak 12
Aislinn Lodwig 10
Sydney Luse 12
Hallie Miles 9
Madeline Mohatt 9
Alexia Orosco 10
Nicole Partipilo 10
Lauren Pence 10
Anna Piazza 11
Natasha Ring 12
Kaprice Sanchez 11
Sophia Sandquist 9
Julia Schaefer 9
Sam Sommerville 9
Rachel Steinmiller 11
Sydney Strang 11
Elle Tattoni 10
Amy Vanderschaaf 9
Lauren Zick 11

Spring kind to Kaneland athletics in awards season

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Photo: Delani Vest capped a stellar senior season for Lady Knights softball by nabbing the NIB-12 MVP honor. File photo

KANELAND—A highly successful 2011-12 spring season was recognized with team awards dished out earlier this week, as well as honors from the end-of-year senior athletic banquet.

Awards were released on June 3.

Leading the charge was sectional semifinalist softball, which boasted the Northern Illinois Big XII MVP in pitcher Delani Vest. Joining the senior on the all-conference list was Paige Kuefler, Hayley Contorno, Allyson O’Herron and McKinzie Mangers, with teammate Lexi Roach an honorable mention.

Vest, Mangers, O’Herron and Sam Hansen were recognized as captains. O’Herron was named defensive player of the year, while Roach was named most improved player. Kuefler and Lanie Callaghan were named co-offensive players of the year, while Contorno and Kristen Gabrielson took home the Lady Knight award.

The senior athletic banquet awards recognized University of Wisconsin-Whitewater bound Sean Carter as Male Athlete of the Year, Kelly Evers as Female Athlete of the Year, Clayton Brundige as the Male Birkette award winner for dedication, and both Evers and Katy Dudzinski as the Female Birkette award for dedication recipient.

For boys track, Carter was named the Track MVP, while Nate Dyer took home the Field MVP honors. Brundige and Brandon Stahl were co-winners of the Drendel Award. Brundige, Carter, Miki Marin, Stahl, Nate Rehkopf, Kelvin Peterson and Mitch Dienst were recognized as captains. Dylan Nauert was named the winner of the Ron Probst award.

Finally, Kaneland’s boys track group of Luis Acosta, Brandon Bishop, Kyle Carter, Sean Carter, Dyer, Shane Jorgensen, Nate Kucera, Nauert, Tanner Andrews, Brandon Cottier, Marshall Farthing, Kory Harner, Conor Johnson, Dylan Pennington, Brundige and Marin were recognized as All NIB-12.

Meanwhile, the 11 State qualifiers were also lauded for their trip to Eastern Illinois University.

For Knights baseball, Tom Fox, Drew Peters, John Hopkins, Trevor Storck, Jake Razo and Tyler Heinle were named to the All NIB-12 team, with Bryan VanBogaert an honorable mention.

VanBogaert, Storck and Ray Barry took home the most improved player nods, and Trever Heinle was the recipient of the 41 Award in memory of Jeff Malewig. Fox was named the offensive MVP and Tyler Heinle was named defensive MVP, with Razo nabbed Mr. Kaneland Baseball for 2012.

The girls track season yielded quite the prestigious awards, with Amanda Lesak, Jessica Kucera, Maggie Brundige, Sydney Strang, Jen Howland, Lauren Zick and Kaltrina Ismaili being recognized as state qualifiers.

Christina Delach, Nicole Ketza, Elle Tattoni, Lesak, Gabby Aguirre, Strang, Zick, Ismaili and Howland also secured Northern Illinois Big XII honors.

Carolina Tovar and Ketza were recognized for their work as captains. Lesak took home the team’s most improved trophy.

The Track MVP honor was given to Strang, while the Field MVP honor went to Tattoni.

Kaneland soccer congratulated Jess Coia, Jordan Ginther, Delaney Stryczek and Katie Taylor for making All NIB-12, while Brittany Olson made the honorable mention list.

Melissa Bohorquez, Ginther, Taylor and Taylor White were recognized as captains, while Brooke Harner was named Most Improved Player for the Lady Knights.

Courtney Diddell and Madi Jurcenko capped impressive campaigns by garnering Rookie of the Year honors.

Taylor Opperman, Heather Ortiz and Stryczek were named winners of the Coach’s Award.

Michelle Ortiz and Olson were named winners of the Lady Knights Award, while the co-MVPs were revealed as Taylor and Ginther.

Girls track sees 2 finalists at 2A State meet

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Photo: Sydney Strang was part of Lady Knight relay action during the Class 2A State meet in Charleston, Ill. Courtesy Photo

KANELAND—While it wasn’t on the scale of the final finish in 2011, the Lady Knights track outfit still came out of the weekend at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Ill. with elite totals in terms of the rest of the state.

When the dust settled from the Friday and Saturday meet, the top finishers brandishing Kaneland duds were Sydney Strang and Jen Howland.

Strang, the lone Lady Knight to make it from prelims to finals on the weekend, qualified for the final 800 meter run group with a time of two minutes, 19.29 seconds and finished 11th in the state with a finals time of 2:20.12.

Kelsey Cramsey of Effingham won the event with a time of 2:12.54. Rochelle’s Michelle Dobbs took third with a time of 2:14.33.

Other Lady Knight final competition included Howland competing in the 3200m run and finishing 11th at 11:36 in an event won by Kristen Busch of Freeburg at 10:54.74.

Additional KHS competition in the prelims included the 4x800m relay foursome of Amanda Lesak, Jessica Kucera, Maggie Brundige and Strang finishing tenth in its heat at 10:07.04.
Lauren Zick, after earning a finals berth last year, finished sixth in her prelim heat of the 400m dash at 59.36 seconds, and the 4x400m unit of Lesak, Zick, Strang and Kaltrina Ismaili finished its prelim run in 4:05.53, less than two seconds from qualifying for the finals.

Teamwise, Springfield Southeast won the trophy with 63 points, followed by Walther Lutheran’s 46. Chicago’s Lindblom (38), Freeport (29), Freeburg (27) and Marengo (27) rounded out the top six.

Kaneland says goodbye to seniors Ashley Cottier, Caroline Eichelberger, Kelly Evers, Howland, Christina Janes, Nicole Ketza, Carolina Tovar and Shannon Wallace.

Lady Knights track now Charleston crew

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Photo: Just a sophomore, Sydney Strang takes part in three events for the Class 2A State meet beginning on Friday. File photo

Lady Knights track qualifies for State in five events after Sterling meet
by Mike Slodki
STERLING, Ill.—Some might shake their head at a fourth-place showing for a girls track meet.

Kaneland will instead keep running to the campus of Eastern Illinois University, due to exemplary performances.

With the needed qualifying scores in five events, Kaneland has a healthy presence for the Class 2A State finals for girls track, scheduled for Friday through Saturday, May 18-19.

Sydney Strang represents KHS in three events: in the 800m run, the 4×800 meter relay and the 4×400 meter relay. Teammate Lauren Zick goes to the elite meet in both the 400m dash after taking the sectional championship, as well as the 4x400m relay.

Jen Howland paced herself toward a State berth in the 3200m run, while Strang was joined by Amanda Lesak, Maggie Brundige and Jessica Kucera for the qualifying 4x800m relay, and joined Zick, Kaltrina Ismaili and Lesak for the 4x400m relay.

Teamwise, the Lady Knights’ 48 point total was four points better than Burlington Central.

The Pretzel group from Freeport amassed 88 points for first place, followed by Dixon at 80 and Rock Falls 61.

The 2012 output toward State beats last year’s effort, when Brooke Patterson’s pole vault, Zick’s 400m dash, Andie Strang’s 1600m run and the 4x800m relay advanced.

The 4x800m relay saw Strang, Lesak, Brundige and Kucera take fifth with a time of nine minutes, 58.23 seconds, beating the qualifying time by seven seconds.

Brundige was happy to exterminate the injury bug, and produce a State-worthy effort.

“My body’s gotten stronger as I’ve gotten older and through all the training, and I’ve avoided injury this year so it’s going pretty well,” Brundige said.

Meanwhile, Strang returned with a fourth-place gallop in the 800m run with a time of 2:21.23.

“I’ve been really excited and it’s been a lot of fun this year,” Strang said. “I was excited for the competition and knew they would push me to my limit.

The senior Howland is on her way to closing out her high school tenure on a high note after garnering third in the 3200m run with a time of 11:45.37.

Howland is ready to put mind with body for a productive weekend.

“It’s more mind than body in the 3200,” Howland said. “If you tell your brain over and over again, you can do it, it’s a matter of getting in your head.”

The 4x400m foursome of Zick, Strang, Ismaili and Lesak finished a second place at 4:06.99, just .71 behind the Rock Falls winners.

“All the other teammates pushed each other, and it was a lot of fun and hard work in the 800 and 400,” Lesak said.

Zick also showed she continues to be a force to be reckoned with not just in the western suburbs, but in the state, with a sectional championship-worthy 58.84 seconds in the 400m dash.

Last year’s Lady Knight class saw the 4×800 of Andie Strang, Kris Bowen, Zick and Sydney Strang take sixth, while Zick took ninth in the 400m run.

Lady Knights’ trip to NIB-12 meet yields 5th

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Photo: Maggie Brundige (left) and Lauren Zick (right) are counted on to make an impact at the Sterling Sectional this Friday, May 11. File photo

KANELAND—Lady Knights track used the important meet at Streator High School to have a Northern Illinois Big XII pow-wow, and found they have a final output good for the middle of the pack.

Friday had less-frigid conditions than the previously held Kane County Invite in St. Charles, and with 53 points, the Lady Knights found itself with a fifth-place finish out at the home of the Bulldogs.

In last year’s inaugural NIB-12 clash, Kaneland finished third overall.

Geneseo, with 114 points, took the meet, followed by fellow West Division school Dixon with 94 points. Yorkville was third with a 70-point total, and DeKalb was fourth with 66 points.

After KHS was Sycamore in sixth place at 52, followed by Sterling (47), LaSalle-Peru (24) and Ottawa (17).

Kaneland’s lone conference champ is thrower Elle Tattoni, who boasted a shot put effort of 34 feet, seven inches, which was two inches better than Yorkville’s Mackenzie Lee.

Lauren Zick, continuing her path away from previously hobbling injuries, took a second place in the 400 meter dash race, finishing in 59.59 seconds, 2.18 second behind DeKalb’s Jaylaan Slaughter.

KHS gathered four third-place honors at Streator, beginning with Jen Howland’s 11:45.38 time in the 3200m run.

Teammate Amanda Lesak’s 50.42 second effort was third in the 300m hurdles race, while the Lady Knight’s 4x400m relay squad ran a 4:11.05 for third.

Rounding out the third-place collection was Nicole Ketza’s output in the discus throw at 103-04.

Junior Gabby Aguirre’s five-foot leap was good for fourth place.

Ahead for the Lady Knighs is the Class 2A Sectional in Sterling on Friday, May 11, at 4 p.m.

The fellow teams joining Kaneland from the area and NIB-12 in the 16-team gathering are Burlington Central, Dixon, Hampshire, Rochelle, Sterling and Sycamore.

8th-place finish at Kane County Invite for girls track

in Featured/Girls Track by

Photo: Kaneland girls Lauren Zick and Sydney Strang try to catch a DeKalb runner in the 800 meter during their meet at DeKalb on April 25. Patti Wilk

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—With the regular season in its final weeks, the Kaneland High School girls track squad finds itself homestretching across finish lines.

Despite ending up on the wrong side of a dual on April 25 at DeKalb High School, the Lady Knights finished eighth in a stacked and frigid Kane County Invite out at St. Charles North High School on Friday evening.

In the 91-58 loss to the Lady Barbs, KHS saw several first-place honors, taking the reins in six events.

Nicole Ketza excelled in the field, taking the discus throw with a mark of 91 feet, two inches, while teammate Gabby Aguirre won the high jump event with an effort of 4-06.

Pole vaulter Christine Delach did her part for Kaneland, winning the pole vault at nine feet even.

Long-distance asset Sydney Strang continued her strong sophomore campaign with a two minute, 21.2 second 800 meter run for first place.

Amanda Lesak staked her claim to the 300m low hurdles by conquering it in 49.4 seconds, and Kaltrina Ismaili won the 200m run in 27.7 seconds.

The 2012 edition of the Kane County gathering saw West Aurora (142), St. Charles East (83) and Batavia (58) take the top three. St. Charles North, Burlington Central and Geneva took fourth through sixth, respectively, while Rosary finished just ahead of KHS. The Lady Knight’s 34-point total edged Hampshire’s 32 for eighth place overall.

Noteworthy finishes for the Lady Knights included a runner-up in the 4x800m relay with a time of 10:08.06. Adding to the long-distance favorables was Jen Howland, finishing third in the 3200m run in adverse and windy conditions. The senior ran a 11:56.10 course.

Finalist Ashley Castellanos was part of the elite 100m dash group and took fourth with a time of 13.23 seconds. Castellanos finished fifth in the prelims with a 13.28 second effort.

Strang ran the 1600m run in 5:27.80, good for third.

“Sydney is more consistent this year, and I’m very happy with how Jessica Kucera and Maggie have run,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said.

The 4x400m relay foursome took fourth place with a time of 4:17.76. Freshman Elle Tattoni continued to shore up Kaneland’s throwing ranks with a fourth in the shot put (34-05.75).

Distance-runner Abby Dodis dealt with the windy conditions as best she could.

““I haven’t run in any colder conditions this year,” Dodis said. “We have more girls in distance this year, and it’s fun to run against tougher competition.”

Ahead for Kaneland is the NIB-12 get-together on Friday, May 4, at Streator.

KHS girls track sees firsts in 4×800, 1600m

in Featured/Girls Track by

Photo: Nicole Ketza gears up for a discus throw during recent action. Ketza and the Lady Knights gear up for the Kane County Meet in North Stars country on Friday, April 27. File photo

DIXON—Interstate 88’s corridor wields some talented girls track rosters, and Kaneland’s intent was to join that group after Friday’s Dixon Invite.

When the points were tabulated, KHS emerged in the middle of the pack of a 10-team invite.

With 55 points, the Lady Knights edged NIB-12 rival Sterling by three points.

Additional NIB-12 outfit Geneseo took the meet with 93, followed by Dixon with 81. Harlem scored third with 76 points and Moline finished fourth with 68.

Kaneland’s bar is at a higher setting for several events, and just in time for the prestigious Kane County Meet occurring this Friday, April 27.

The 4x800m relay foursome of Sydney Strang, Jessica Kucera, Jennifer Howland and Amanda Lesak emerged victorious with a time of 10 minutes, 7.35 seconds, over two seconds better than the team from Dixon.

Strang also got into the act by running away from the fellow 1600m run crowd, thanks to a 5:42.50 time.

The frosh/soph group of Kucera, Rachel Steinmiller, Kyla Goodine and Madison Keith did well by finishing third in the 4x400m relay event with a time of 4:27.24.

Field events went well for KHS in the form of Kelly Evers’ third in the high jump (13 feet, eight inches), and with Shannon Wallace’s third in the pole vault (23-06).

Kaneland’s Kane County trip takes them to St. Charles North High School for a 5 p.m. starting gun.

Girls track gets fifth, dual win

in Girls Track by

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Windy conditions abounded, and whomever emerged from Saturday’s Jenni’s ABC Meet in Maple Park would have to do so by force.

Kaneland girls track would be the fifth-best to do so, behind four capable outfits.

The Ottawa ABC meet on Friday saw KHS earn second place with 190 points, behind Burlington Central’s 225.

With 346.5 points, Huntley took the Jenni’s meet crown.

Kaneland leapfrogged Mercer County, Lemont’s Mt. Assisi Academy and St. Edward to complete the eight-team skirmish.

The Lady Knights saw strong performances, which gave the group encouraging thoughts with the Kane County Invite just two weeks out.

Sydney Strang led the way in the 1600m run “A” race with an effort of five minutes, 25.5 seconds, while Gabby Aguirre took second in the high jump “A” event with a jump of 4-08.

Kaneland had its share of good fortune in other events, thanks to personnel like Elle Tattoni, who threw a 31-05 in the shot put “A” flight for second place to go with an 88-06 discus “C” toss; Jessica Kucera, who ran a 400m dash “B” race in 1:07.9 for second place; and Maggie Brundige, who finished second in the 1600m run “B” flight at 5:44.8.

Lady Knight Shannon Wallace finished second in the pole vault “B” group at 7-06, and Nicole Ketza continued to excel in the field for KHS girls track by winning the shot put “B” group with a heave of 30-10.

Ketza feels she’s having a strong 2012.

“Coach Ecker said to just take one throw at a time and not think about it and not rush,” Ketza said.

Lady Knight Ashley Cottier produced a second-place discus toss with a mark of 84-05. Abby Dodis did well on the track with a 5:50.10, first-place run in the 1600m run “C” race.

In Ottawa, the shot put went well, with Ketza (33-01) and Tattoni (34-06) nabbing firsts in their flights. Wallace took first in her vault with a 7-06 effort, while the foursome of Strang, Jen Howland, Kucera and Amanda Lesak took the reins of the 4x800m relay “A” race at 10:17.90.

Other firsts in Ottawa included Carolina Tovar (14:19.66) and Brundige (12:40.49) in the 3200m run events, along with Rachel Steinmiller in her 100m hurdles try (19.19).

Kaneland took care of Rochelle in dual action on Tuesday, and saw Kaltrina Ismaili (200m dash and 100m dash), Ashley Castellanos (triple jump, long jump) and Ketza (shot, discus) take firsts.

Girls Track sees exceptional totals at Holmes Meet

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Photo: Ashley Castellanos (right) put in good work Saturday at the Jill Holmes Invite, including winning this 100 meter dash. Photo by John DiDonna

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It took barely any time for Lady Knights girls track to get acclimated to the outdoor competition.

With the Jill Holmes Invite on Saturday yielding success, and the dual action going the Lady Knights way on Tuesday against visiting Sycamore, Kaneland sits in a good spot.

On Saturday, Rockton’s Hononegah High School finished first with 98 points, while Kaneland was second at 92.5, and DeKalb third.

Ashley Castellanos took third place in the 200 meter dash on Saturday with a 27-second effort.

Lady Knight Abby Dodis ran a 12:17.40 effort in the 3200m run, with DeKalb standout Kelsey Schrader taking first at 11:42.10.

The Lady Knights’ 4x800m relay group of Amanda Lesak, Sydney Strang, Jennifer Howland and Jessica Kucera finished second with an effort of 10:10.35.

The Lady Knights did well in field events, as well, with Castellanos staking her claim in the long jump and triple jump by finishing second in both.

The junior hit the 15-10 mark in the long jump, and a 33-06 in the triple jump for a productive morning.

Elle Tattoni beat the field and took the reins in the shot put with a 32-11 throw, while fellow Lady Knights Nicole Ketza took first (97-10.5) and Ashley Cottier managed third in the discus (94-09.5).

Against the Lady Spartans, KHS used plenty of great showings for an 86-55 win.

Strang’s 11:54.6 was tops in the 3200m run.

“I’ve been working hard and it’s been going pretty well, “ Strang said. “I’ve been having fun and trying my best with it.”

Howland took the 800m run with a time of 2:32.3, Lesak won the 300m hurdles event with a time of 50.8 seconds, and Kaltrina Ismaili won the 200m run with a time of 28.9 seconds.

Additonal firsts were garnered by the 4x400m relay team (4:09.8), Castellanos in the triple jump (32-10), Tattoni in the shot put (31-06), Ketza in the discus (94-04), Gabby Aguirre in the high jump (five feet) and Sydney Luse in the pole vault (eight feet).

Up ahead for girls track: the Ottawa ABC Invite on Friday, April 13.

Lady Knights track takes 2nd in Oregon meet

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OREGON, Ill.—KHS opened its outdoor campaign with an 83-point showing in a meet hosted by Oregon High School on Tuesday afternoon.

Burlington Central took the four-team clash with 96 points, while the hosts had 81 points, and Lena-Winslow High School brought up the rear with 12.

Productivity was highlighted with a slew of first-place efforts in the form of personnel like the 3200 meter relay team of Amanda Lesak, Abby Dodis, Sydney Strang and Jessica Kucera, who ran in 10 minutes, 27.89 seconds. Their teammates of Ashley Castellanos, Katrina Ismaila, Madison Keith and Lauren Zick won the 400m relay at 51.78 seconds. Sydney Luse won the 100m hurdles crowd over with an 18.04-second effort.

Nicole Ketza won the discus with a launch of 97 feet, six inches, and Zick won the long jump at 16-09.75. In other field events, Elle Tattoni took first in the shot put with 33-05.5, and Castellanos won the triple jump (33-01).

Lady Knights track to make most out of depth

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Photo: Lauren Zick looks to make her sophomore season more amazing than her freshman campaign in the 400m run. File Photo

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Numbers are down, and the roster no longer includes assets like Andie Strang, Kris Bowen and Brooke Patterson.

But third-year Lady Knights girls track head coach Doug Ecker is eager and optimistic about what returns.

“We lost good kids, but we picked up some,” Ecker said. “Our numbers are down overall. We have some crossover from a successful cross-country season. So far, so good. We have some kids hurt, but we’ll make the most out of our depth.”

A fifth-place finish at the Kane County Invite and four events with a State seal of approval meant a big finish to 2011.

Still around from the Charleston group are sophomore Sydney Strang, who was in the 4x800m relay, and sophomore Lauren Zick, who finished ninth in the 400m dash.

“Zick is a great athlete and can run anything from a 55 to an 800, with her best race probably the 400, and has improved in the long jump. Sydney did well in the distance events and is getting faster and stronger,” Ecker said.

The indoor track season provided a nice barometer, but slots still need to be figured out.

“It is different, with no discus and no low hurdles, but things still need to get hashed out,” Ecker said.

Going the distance for KHS this season will be personnel like Strang, who has had a nice start in the mile event, as will Amanda Lesak, in events like the 4x800m.

Lesak will also be counted on in the hurdle events, as well.

“She’s someone that we hope will do well in the hurdles and middle distance races,” Ecker said.

Nicole Ketza, Brittany Kemp and freshman Elle Tattoni are getting looks in the field events, with Ketza and Kemp having hours chalked up in the shot put and discus.

“Kemp is someone that did the shot for us as a freshman, and Marina Schaefer is someone we are looking at for big things in the discus once she bounced back from injuries,” Ecker said.

Sydney Luse returns for her junior year, having placed in the hurdles and pole vault.

“We have good kids in these events, but we’d like to shore up our depth because you have to score in a lot of events,” Ecker said.

For sprints, returnee Ashley Castellanos will see time after excelling in the triple jump last year.

“DeKalb and Sycamore have some of the fastest girls in the state, but Ashley is right up there, as well, and will help us,” Ecker said.

A place is being looked at for senior Kelly Evers, who is coming off of injuries the past track season after going to Charleston three years ago in the 4×800 relay.

Other veterans who carry over from last year’s track group and cross-country are juniors like Gabby Aguirre, Maggie Brundige and Abby Dodis.

“Maggie has been injured in the past, but I think she’s gotten past that now and she’s done well for us so far,” Ecker said. “Abby has already run 12-flat for the 2-mile. They would be stars in any other conference, but our conference is so top-heavy with distance runners, it’s unbelievable.”

Kaneland hopes for a strong body of work this season, and a productive homestretch.

“Conference is important. Geneseo, DeKalb are up there and Dixon is getting stronger, not to discount anyone else. We don’t quite have the depth they do, but we’ll be right there with them.

KHS spring sports awards put fitting cap on 2010-11

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

KANELAND—Coming a little later due to the storybook run of Kaneland baseball, KHS released its spring sports awards for 2010-11, highlighting a successful first step into Northern Illinois Big XII play.

In girls track, Lauren Zick and Andie Strang took home the co-MVP for track, while Brooke Patterson was named MVP on the field end. For most improved, Abby Dodis and Briana Stark took home the honor.

Sydney Bilotta, Strang, Kris Bowen, Jessica Stouffer and Keara Palpant were recognized as captains.

Zick and Patterson were joined by Gabby Aguirre as part of the Northern Illinois Big XII (NIB-12) All-Conference squad. Strang (1600 meter run, 4x800m relay), Bowen (4x800m relay), Patterson (pole vault), Sydney Strang (4x800m relay) and Zick (400m dash, 4x800m relay) were also recognized for their State trip.

For boys track, Taylor Andrews and Tommy Whittaker were named track MVP’s, while teammate Matt Spitzzeri took the field MVP. Curtis Secrest was given the Drendel Award.

Secrest, Trevor Holm, Whittaker, Andrews, Matt Cowans and Spitzzeri were recognized as captains, and Kory Harner took the Ron Probst Award.

The NIB-12 also named Andrews, Spitzzeri, Whittaker, Holm, Brandon Cottier, Mickey Marin and Jesse Balluff as part of the All-Conference squad.

Harner, Marin, Luis Acosta, Clayton Brundige, Balluff, Brandon Bishop, Dylan Nauert, Sean Carter, Holm, Cottier, Whittaker, Andrews and Secrest were all recognized for their State qualifying efforts.

In soccer, Emily Heimerdinger secured an All-State honor, capping her four-year output in style, while also named the NIB-12 MVP. The Class of 2011 member was also named co-MVP for the Lady Knights with teammate Amy Fabrizius.

Conference-wide, Heimerdinger, Fabrizius, Sophia Blank and Sam Wantuch were named to the All-Conference team.

Katie Taylor earned the Lady Knights Award, while Blank took home the Coach’s Award.

Keeper Michelle Ortiz was named Rookie of the Year, while Wantuch was named Most Improved Player for the roster that made it to the regional championship. Blank, Fabrizius, Heimerdinger and Taylor were also recognized as captains.

In softball, McKinzie Mangers and Andrea Potts were recognized as captains, while Allyson O’Herron took home the Lady Knight Award.

Potts was also named the Offensive Player of the Year.

Alexis Villarreal was named Most Improved Player for her efforts on the mound, and teammate Rilee Vest was named Defensive Player of the Year for the Lady Knights softball unit.

Additionally, Potts was a unanimous selection to the NIB-12 All-Conference team as an infielder. Vest and Katy Dudzinski were named as honorable mention candidates.

For the State Champion Knights baseball program, Bobby Thorson was named team Offensive MVP.

Kyle Davidson, Jake Razo and Brian Dixon took the Defensive MVP awards, and Dixon, Razo and Tyler Heinle were named Most Improved Players.

The No. 41 award was given to Sam Komel, Corey Landers and Dixon.

Mr. Kaneland Baseball was given out to the whole of the 2011 Class 3A State winners.

Additionally, Kaneland held the Senior Athletic Banquet Awards in June, giving the Knight Award for three-sport athletes to Stouffer, Strang and Davidson.

Strang was named female athlete of the year, while Andrews was named male athlete of the year. Strang also won the female Birkette Award, while the male Birkette Award went to Curtis Secrest.

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