Welcome to Kaneland Cross Country!

The purpose of this blogsite is to allow full access to the team, practices, history, and future events. Please check back with this blog throughout the summer and fall for new updates on the team. Feel free to share it with friends and family who follow the program!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Deep NIB XII Conference Field Pushes Knights to Fifth Place Finish

The landscape of Illinois XC has never been deeper in our conference than it is this year. Yorkville had never lost a NIB XII team title in the conference’s existence, and today was beaten by #6 Sycamore and #7 Sterling. Throw in a vastly improved DeKalb team, and #24 L-P, and we’ve got our hands full.

Matt Richtman became our first individual conference champion since 1999, when Henry Norris won the Suburban Prairie Conference crown at Elburn Woods. He was knotted up with two elite All State athletes, and surged to victory in the final 125 meters, just like he practices on Fridays. He became a sprinter.

Occhipinti joined our varsity lineup and immediately made his presence felt by surging into all conference contention. At the finish, he was on PR pace at 16:24 and 22nd overall.  Webster tried chasing that white jersey throughout and completed his run 12 seconds later for 29th place. Kantola raced to the chute four places later at 16:51, and Henry Nosek was 36th as our last scoring runner in 17:03 following an adjusted week of practices due to injury. Peyton Heiser kept Nosek in his sights the whole way and ended the day with a career PR in 17:11. Purcell earned another spot start in the varsity race and finished 61st overall in this loaded field of teams. Thanks, Ben for stepping in.

In the frosh soph race, Lodwig made good on a new PR at 17:30 which locked down 4th overall. Drake Nemec was the other award winner on the day in this level, earning 16th with a PR effort of 18:07. The next pack of checkerboarded Knights finished in a flash, with Petrik at 18:24, Seth Nosek right after at 18:26, and then Orczykowski at 18:30. The pack was able to manage a :60 split on the day, a season’s best. Klingensmith ran a :15 PR on the three mile course, and Riedel raced to 33rd overall, despite being under the weather.

When the Open took charge a few minutes following, we had new award winners and PR breakers on the course. Abruzzo and teammates settled into a pack through the first mile and demonstrated exactly what we needed to see from the whole team on the day. Feeding off of the energy of those they raced with then passed, Tony kept charging forward to a 7th place ribbon, and a 1:44 PR from Eddington.

Girolamo made a great push toward the front and net a 9th place ribbon. Finn was just two places behind for a ribbon and a new three mile PR at 18:48. Scotty Dunne also raced ahead from the pack and earned a 1:19 PR. Messina and Konrad pushed into the top half of all open runners, in 22nd and 23rd place. Good to have Kyle in the lineup again! Jablonski was able to break his previous best, running 20:52. Giant improvements from Eddington times came from Holder (2:51 PR), Patrick (2:29 PR) and Woods (1:06 PR). 

When you are actively racing those around you, surging and passing, then great things happen and times drop. (more team details will be shared 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Old School Cross Country Finishes Teach Team Valuable Lesson at Byron

There are lessons learned in every race, if you look for them. Byron’s handicap race allowed for our team depth to shine, and taught us how every place and split second matters.

Fresh off a team trophy performance in Freeport which was won by our sixth runner, we were narrowly beaten by Rock Falls. History repeated itself tonight, as RF got past us by a single point again, with exciting finishes making the difference in team tally.  The narrow "old school" chute opening between padded posts was used, instead of the 15 foot wide line, and it made for some exciting finishes.

Richtman sped to a new Kaneland best on the 2.87 mile course when he ran 14:45. This was 29 seconds faster than our previous best of 15:14 by All Stater Matt Reusche in 2009.

Orczykowski held his ground after a :20 delay to earn 8th. He was on the heels of a Richmond-Burton pack of seniors who earned the team title with five in the Top 10, and a :21 split for the day.  Occhipinti found the chute as our third runner, finishing 11th after being delayed 2:40 at the start.
Things started to get exciting a few runners later when senior Anthony Messina made a Rock Falls runner his “hunted” and was relentless to the chute, crashing into pads and earning a hard fought medal and 1 point edge at 14th.  Next, Wielgos chased in a pack of three scoring RF Rockets and with .6 seconds the difference between he and their #5 at 18th place. (52-53, RF)

RF wasn’t done, as they avenged the close finish by Messina in taking back a pad crashing place. Purcell was surprised at the chute by another aggressive Rocket runner who came charging past in the very last second. Bodies spilled on the grass in this fun, old-school finish. Ben earned 21st place overall, and showed great fortitude in the process. 

Our next set of finishers all made great use of the pack mentality we try to bring to our races. Patrick Riedel nabbed a 24th place medal in 19:03. He kept Petrik close to him on the course by putting up “targets” and encouragement. Petrik came in one second later to earn the final Varsity medal of the day. Lodwig joined them at the chute in 19:06, and raced 2:00 faster for his overall time (17:06). Sophomore Drake Nemec battled hard despite not feeling well, and defeated half of the talented field for 31st place overall.

When the tallies for scores are complete in the remaining races we will run, it will come down to a scant few points. It doesn’t matter if you are the #1 or the #6, you’re going to have to beat every last man within two seconds of you for the chance to advance. We practice finishes for a reason, boys. We need to take every advantage of points left at the chute so that we can move forward. We earned a trophy in Freeport. We learned a lesson in Byron. Never get beat at the chute. Never give up.

Klingensmith picked up where he left off in ’15. He set a :74 PR on the course and won the Open. Abruzzo had a blistering kick to the line :06 later for 2nd overall. Seth Nosek enjoyed some help from his brother during the race to net 3rd in 17:52, and Finn was right on his heels for 4th at 17:54. Just :14 separated our front four in this race.

Girolamo completed our pack scoring and split at :41 when he crossed the line in 7th. Scotty Dunne also looked strong (and smiling) as he raced through the finish in 9th for a medal. Jablonski took home the final medal of the day in 15th with a 2:40 PR on the hilly course.  Holder was next in at 16th and 20:37, stringing consecutive strong finishes together.  Arty Patrick used the RF runner for motivation through the final mile of the course to run 18th in 21:31.

Our remaining pack rallied with Woods to bring home our final five runners in :02 for 21st to 25th place. That Varsity pack will need to continue to pick up steam in the remaining races, and finish in a similar manner. While we work to close the gap between 1-2, our greatest strength will be the small spacing between our 2-7. This crew must work it’s way up to run with the #3s, 4s and 5s of those teams we are trying to catch.

Just like the “goose” lessons on our sheets from earlier in the year, there will be a great need to “fly” together. Every single point will count at the end.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Knights Steal Second Off Efforts of Our Sixth

Saturday’s meet in Freeport was very exciting, led by the gritty efforts of our seniors. In the closest team finish in meet history, Rock Falls narrowly beat the Knights by just a point (60-61). However, Kaneland tied Belvidere for second, and took home the hardware on the efforts of our sixth runner.

Andrew Kantola had a break-out performance to lead the Knights with a 6th place PR run. Henry Nosek was just :12 back in 16:26, and a course PR. Webster surged through the final mile to finish 14th, and Heiser was just :04 back as our #4.

Senior Noah Duffey fought stomach issues and hip pain to grind out a top 30 finish, which would be just enough to catch Belvidere. Ben Purcell came back to the lineup from injury to set a course PR and finished four places ahead of the Belvidere #6, which earned us the trophy for XC’s only tie-breaking rule.

Anthony Messina continues to lead by example on and off the course, and he was able to notch an inspired 52nd place in 18:39. In CJ Girolamo’s first race back to the lineup, he raced to 56th. Both of these young men demonstrate courage and perseverance daily. Kyle Konrad also got back from injury to compete on the Freeport course for the first time, running 6:30 mile pace. While the health of the varsity group has been shaky at best, their tremendous will to compete made carrying the team trophy home that much more sweet.

On the frosh soph side, the team was looking for its first team title of 2016. They more than earned it with three pretzels and four in the Top 10.  Daniel Occhipinti burned up the course with a 16:12, our fastest team time of the day. Wielgos gave great chase throughout, taking second in 16:18, a :49 improvement from ‘15. Lodwig earned the last pretzel in 5th, besting his 2015 time by 1:21. Nemec is on a roll and feeling good, today earning a 10th place finish while practicing what we preach in races by keeping Petrik close throughout.  Petrik willed himself to an ACC/Freeport PR time of 17:38 as our #5.

Riedel earned an individual medal in 17th, and Seth Nosek took home one of his own with a grueling and inspired 18:02 PR. Watching Seth compete and push his own limits is worth the price of admission. Abruzzo smashed his ACC time by :56 for 21st overall. Orczykowski (-:45) and Klingensmith (-1:21) each set course PRs.

Finn and Dunne both beat their ACC times on this longer, hillier course. Each runner continues to develop and grow as we race more.  Jablonski beat his 2015 time by 1:11 to finish 44th. Holder and Patrick were within a few seconds of their ACC times, and they continue to show both the mental and physical toughness which this sport requires. Woods capped another great day by surging often through final two miles to run just one second off his ACC PR pace.

While we have some work to do, and some bodies to get healthy, this was a very positive day for our program.