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Druley: Knights win second outright championship

Lane assignments, cool conditions and a game effort from St. Charles North conspired to thwart Kaneland’s bid for a Kane County boys track and field meet title.

The Knights would have nothing of it, rebounding from a shaky start in the field events Friday to win the program’s second outright championship and third overall.

Kaneland immediately set its sights on the rest of the stretch run once the meet concluded. That sequence starts with Friday’s Northern Illinois Big 12 meet at Dixon and continues with 2A sectionals at Sterling the following week and the May 24 and 25 state meet at Charleston.

“We’re going to work as hard as we can, hopefully make something of ourselves. Prove that we’re the team to beat,” Knights junior sprinter/hurdler Dylan Nauert said. “That’s all. You can only hope for the best.”

Kaneland enters each meet optimistically thanks to its depth. With two events remaining Friday – the 4x400-meter relay and shot put – North trailed the Knights by just two points, but Kaneland truly could rest easy. The team had two shot put finalists to the North Stars’ zero.

“It’s just a tribute to our philosophy of we’re good in every event,” Knights coach Eric Baron said. “We’re putting quality kids out there and trying to do what we can.”

Kaneland has been on the outside of state medal contention since its 2010 team finished second in 2A, eight points behind champion Hillcrest. The Knights placed 11th in 2012 and 16th the season before.

There are a handful of contributors remaining from the 2010 team. On Friday, Brandon Cottier came full circle from his freshman season by scoring in the county meet for the fourth year.

“The freshmen through seniors, we’re an all-around good team,” fellow senior Nathaniel Kucera said. “We’re excited to see what we can do at the end of this month.”

Dressed to the nines: Since 1993, every Batavia baseball player has shared one simple thing in common with coach Matt Holm.

He has suited up in Bulldogs crimson and gold.

Holm, a Batavia alumnus and the program’s longtime leader, could habitually be spotted in his No. 9 uniform for much of his career until this, his 21st season. With a new IHSA rule extending postseason rosters from 22 to 25 players, Holm gave up his jersey number to junior reliever/outfielder Alec Berry with good humor.

“OK, you get the 25th jersey,” Holm said, smiling. “It’s mine. You better wear it right.”

Holm sported a Batavia pullover during Saturday’s home doubleheader against Geneva, and confirmed afterward that IHSA coaches were not subject to the Terry Francona Rule. In 2007, while managing the Boston Red Sox, Francona was ejected for being out of compliance with a major league rule stating that managers and coaches must wear their jersey top.

This isn’t the first time Holm has gone without a jersey number. Dan Schmidt asked to wear No. 9 in the mid-2000s, when Holm also offered a good-natured aside.

“As a senior, it’s, ‘OK, Danny, you can wear it, but you’ve got to promise me you’re going to get 7 or 8 wins,’ “ Holm said.

• Kevin Druley is a sports writer for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or

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