Kaneland senior Sydney Strang hailed Wednesday’s season-opening girls indoor track meet at Dundee-Crown as a chance to finally get moving.
Harrowing winter weather has limited most workouts to treadmills or the indoor track at the Vaughan Center in Aurora, although the Knights always make do.
“We just do the best we can every day,” Strang said, “work with what we’ve got.”
A modest approach has helped steer Strang near the top of the Knights’ middle distance lineup while also landing her a spot in Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne’s NCAA Division I program beginning next season.
Even Strang’s rationale for choosing IPFW is even-keeled.
“I just see myself becoming the best version of myself there,” she said.
Strang’s older sister, Andie, delivered a positive review of the IPFW facilities while competing there with St. Joseph (Ind.) around this time last season.
Strang added the Mastodons to her list of possible suitors, sent an email to coaches and gathered a homey atmosphere at the school from that interaction onward. She confirmed those feelings during her first campus visit in September.
Her verbal commitment in October and last week’s national signing day ceremony at Kaneland only widened Strang’s smile about her development in a sport she all but joined on a whim.
Credit Andie – three years her senior – with an assist, though.
“Really in sixth grade, [track is] all you really can do,” Sydney Strang said. “I’ve always liked running and once I saw her doing it, I figured I would try it, too.”
As a junior, Strang helped Kaneland win the Class 2A Burlington Central Sectional. At state, she anchored the Knights’ ninth-place 4x800-meter relay that opened with Amanda Lesak, Aislinn Lodwig and Jessica Kucera.
With several experienced teammates back in the fold alongside her, Strang likes Kaneland’s chances as meets get under way.
“We’re just enjoying the season,” Strang said. “Having some fun.”
East girls up to speed: St. Charles East girls coach Tim Wolf glances at his stopwatch and can’t help grinning.
“I think we’re a little faster this year than we were last year at this time,” he said.
Credit a diligent offseason regimen for the Saints’ faster workout splits, which already look to be propelling East toward its goal of improving on last season’s eighth-place team finish at the 3A state meet.
“They seem pretty motivated to do better than last year,” Wolf said. “I think that’s their goal, each and every one of them: To meet or exceed what they did last year.”
East returns three of the four members of its state champion 4x400 relay, with Notre Dame-bound senior Jordan Shead joining twin juniors Allison and Elizabeth Chmelik.
Middle distance/distance seniors Krista Fitzmaurice (Illinois State) and Jeslaine Thompson (Judson) also are college recruits. Wolf calls Thompson an “emerging” talent as she comes off a leg injury.
While the Saints won’t run full indoor lineups apart from the March 21 Upstate Eight Conference indoor meet and Illinois Prep Top Times a week later, Wolf knows he has a group that’s itching to come untracked once it gets outdoors. He need only look at his wrist for proof.
Finding their wind: Many track coaches coax football players into the sport for conditioning purposes.
Kaneland senior Gary Koehring, a linebacker committed to NCAA Division II St. Cloud (Minn.) State, counts himself among that fraternity.
“I’m not there to score the team any points,” Koehring, part of the Knights’ rotation in the 100 and 200 meters, said recently. “I’m just there to stay in shape.”
Batavia senior James Millette, a defensive lineman bound for Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater, hears of track’s benefits more than most since Bulldogs football coach Dennis Piron also guides the boys track program.
Millette will be looking to expand his role in the throws, adding discus duties to his role as a shot putter once outdoor season arrives.