Girls XC looks to better health for success

By on August 18, 2011

Photo: Abby Dodis looks to provide a spark with her talent for Kaneland girls cross-country. File Photo

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It’s been ideal running weather in mid-August.

Good enough for KHS coach Doug Ecker and the Lady Knights cross-country team to take advantage of.

“So far we’ve been pretty healthy,” Ecker said. “They’ve worked real hard and done a lot of strengthening. Hopefully we’ll stay away from the injuries and sickness that has plagued some of these girls the last three years.”

With the exception of junior all-conference selection Ashley Castellanos’ stress fracture and junior Abby Dodis’ hip injury, the squad can make up for key departures.

“Abby is looking good so far, and Ashley is a competitor. When the time comes, they’ll be ready to race,” Ecker said.

Former State-qualifier Andie Strang and Kris Bowen depart for the university settings, and last-year’s 51st-best runner in Class 2A, Jen Howland, graduated early.

“Three of our top six runners were out at the end of the year, and we still managed to finish fourth in conference and sixth in Sectionals. When they’re healthy, they’re a pretty formidable group,” Ecker said.

Key returnees include Sydney Strang, a sophomore, who is hot off a productive track campaign in the spring, and recovered from injuries.

The Lady Knights will also be looking toward Maggie Brundige for exceptional times, as well.

Ecker also noted select freshmen who have looked like Lady Knight contributors.

“Victoria Clinton and Aislinn Ludwig have worked hard and are looking good right now,” Ecker said.

Clinton comes off of an exceptional middle school career and also the triathlon circuit.

The lone senior on the squad is returnee Carolina Tovar.

“Even though it seems like we lost a lot, we’ll be fine as far as experience goes,” Ecker said.

The 2011 campaign kicks off on Tuesday, Aug. 30, against West Chicago and Wheaton Academy at Elburn Woods, while the first Northern Illinois Big XII taste happens a week later against the Yorkville Lady Foxes and East Aurora.

“Yorkville is the cream of the crop, Dixon is very talented and Geneseo is very good—all very good programs, and I think without the health issues we’ve faced we’ll do well,” Ecker said.