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Prep Track Insider: Kaneland 4x800 shines in debut

Kaneland’s Isaac Swithers competes in the 100-meter dash Saturday during the Peterson Prep Track Meet in Maple Park.
Kaneland’s Isaac Swithers competes in the 100-meter dash Saturday during the Peterson Prep Track Meet in Maple Park.

Kaneland notched the fastest boys 4x800-meter relay time in Illinois during Saturday's home romp at the Peterson Prep Invitational.

Seniors Luis Acosta, Kyle Carter and Nathaniel Kucera – returners from last season's 2A state champion relay – competed with junior Andrew Lesak for the first time this spring. The result: A meet-record run of 7:50.27.

"I'm excited for this group. Just keep on going," Kucera said. "I think we've got a lot more left. I'm excited to see what we can do."

Kaneland will compete in today's Crystal Lake Central Invitational and a dual at Marmion Tuesday before launching into the May 9 boys Kane County meet at Streamwood.

Acosta (Western Illinois), Carter (Southern Illinois-Carbondale) and Kucera (Stanford) are NCAA Division I recruits.

"We have been pretty confident in what we could do," Acosta said. "We haven't ran this fast all year, but we knew what we were capable of, and we were really looking forward to [Peterson] the whole time. We knew [runner-up] Yorkville was pretty good, [third-place] Batavia. We had all the people to just chase them."

And then some. In the 45th running of the Peterson meet, the Knights set a new 4x800 standard by 5.03 seconds.

Saints' Shead comes unshackled

Jordan Shead flanked former teammate Britney Williams as part of St. Charles East's 3A state champion 4x400 relay last spring.

While the team undoubtedly misses the multi-talented Williams, her graduation also allowed for growth. Coach Tim Wolf has especially seen that in Shead, a Notre Dame commit who set new program records in the 200 and 800 last week.

"I tend not to try to go back too far, but Britney was always kind of a big motivator for those kids," Wolf said. "So now they're all finding their own leadership roles and falling into their own ways. It's been nice to see her take her own ownership of things."

Wolf and Aurora Central Catholic counterpart Troy Kerber – who coached Wolf in high school – consulted before putting up a new challenge involving Shead. With Shead (3A) and ACC sophomore Karina Liz (2A) among the top-ranked runners in the 800 in their respective classes this season, the coaches made sure they would be part of the field in the event at today's Kane County girls meet at Kaneland.

Shead and the Saints still aren't sure whether the 800 will be part of her state series repertoire, but at least county is covered.

"I think it'll be a pretty big showdown for that meet," Wolf said. "We're going to make that happen."

Coach and coach alike

Batavia senior Clayton Siemsen sported a Bulldogs football hoodie as he picked up his trophy for taking sixth in the 100 hurdles at Peterson.

Dennis Piron coaches both football and track at the school, giving Siemsen a Piron perspective a few other teammates share.

"He's got his own crazy way for pretty much both sports," Siemsen said. "Football, he wants to get it done, but you know … I guess it's a different type of coaching for both sports. For track, it's a little more individual, but he helps you out with what you need."


Grace Ginsberg, Geneva, Jr.

What she did: Won the 100-meter hurdles (17.34), 300 hurdles (50.9) and triple jump (32 feet, 3 inches) as the Vikings captured Tuesday's home dual against Batavia.

Brock Robertson, Kaneland, Sr.

What he did: Robertson swept the hurdles events to help the host Knights cruise to Saturday's Peterson Prep meet title taking the 110 in (15.75) and 300 in (40.3). Of his win in the 110s, Robertson said: "I got out of the blocks really hot, had a first good couple hurdles and I didn't slip up the rest of the race."


Some things never change. Reflecting near the end of Saturday's Peterson Prep boys invitational at Kaneland, Geneva coach Gale Gross noted that three captains from the 2010 Vikings – Jay Graffagna, Justin Rodriguez and Kevin Sparks – had the same roles at college seniors. Rodriguez and Sparks both compete for Washington University in St. Louis. Graffagna attends Augustana.


Which boys athletes and teams shine at Friday's Kane County meet at Streamwood's Millennium Field. Kaneland seeks a repeat title and a fourth county crown overall. Batavia and Geneva got a sneak peek of the Knights Saturday, as the host team comfortably won the Peterson Prep meet in Maple Park. "Kaneland's got a nice team, don't they," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "Wow."


A scoreboard sign at Kaneland's Peterson Field touts the football team's back-to-back state championships in the late 1990s.

At today's Kane County girls track and field meet, West Aurora will be out to extend a nice run of its own. The Blackhawks are bidding for a fifth straight county title.

St. Charles East was a big challenger last year, and the host Knights could be a formidable foe, too. Whatever the outcome, this much is clear: the state series is just about upon us.

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