The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

September 13, 2013

Northeast dominates home cross country meet

By Brenden West Herald Assistant Sports Editor
The Clinton Herald

---- — GOOSE LAKE — Unlike most others in her field, Jackie Kokjohn took the starting line at the Northeast Varsity Cross Country Meet as the only Prince of Peace runner in the competition. Yet, she wasn’t alone.

Before the starting gun Thursday, Kokjohn found herself in the middle of a sizeable huddle. Irish boys runners Devon and Dermot Bly, Jacob Jankowski, Seth Moeller and Caleb Kitteringham surrounded their senior female counterpart for a last-second morale boost: “Go Jackie!”

“It’s a lot different,” Kokjohn, a senior, said. She wasn’t the lone Irish runner last season but lost several teammates to graduation. “The boys help me push along because I don’t have any girls on the team. I practice with them, and they just keep motivating me. They’re great at supporting me and helping me get better.”

Twenty minutes later, a breathless Kokjohn congratulated Northeast’s Hannah Kilburg on winning the Rebels’ home invitational, with a time of 16 minutes, 22.27 seconds over the 4,000-meter race. The Irish girl didn’t fare too badly, either. She finished less than a second off Kilburg’s pace as the runner-up at 16:23.02. Both runners shaved more than 20 seconds off their times set at Clinton High’s Schoolhouse Open the week before.

“It feels great, but I don’t think I would’ve been able to push myself if it wasn’t for Jackie,” Kilburg said. “She really pushed me. She did a great job.”

Kokjohn said, “She was setting a good pace, and I was really just trying to keep with her.”

It was the start of a very successful day for the Rebels. In addition to Kilburg, the Northeast girls placed first in the team standings. Eli Kaczinski won the boys race while leading his Rebels team to first in their 5,000-meter race.

“We’re all dropping times and this is only our second meet,” Northeast girls coach Pat Healy said. “Anytime you win you gain more confidence. We’re building off of that.”

Three other Northeast runners joined Kilburg in the top 10. Freshman Madlin Kaczinski and sophomore Aleenah Marcucci were fourth and fifth, respectively, and Kaitlynn Riley was eighth. Healy said that bodes well for his team’s high goals of placing in the top three for a second straight year at the state meet. Last year, the Rebels were second to Unity Christian of Orange City.

“We’ve got some girls that are stepping up,” Healy said. “Just look at Madlin Kaczinski — she finished real well for us today and she’s only a freshman.”

Kilburg and Kokjohn separated themselves early from the pack at the one-mile mark. Kilburg said that around that time was when the race started to get really tough.

“There were those little hills that burn your legs out more than the big hills. Right around the elementary school, I thought (Jackie) was going to take it,” she said.

The Northeast course sent runners up and down the campus beside the wild Goose Lake brush with a final stretch behind the Rebels football stadium. While Kilburg found the hills a challenge, Kaczinski said the openness of the route created a lot of wind resistance, making the last mile particularly tough.

“The wind was a factor coming into it,” he said. “Definitely at certain points, it was a factor.”

His race, too, was a two-runner show. Like the girls race, Kaczinski and Bellevue’s Andrew Meyer quickly set themselves apart from the rest. The finish wasn’t quite as close as the girls race, though, with Kaczinski finishing more than 17 second faster than Meyer. However, the Rebels runner said he could “feel” the Comet chasing him.

“I go with the crowd and everything,” Kaczinski said. “I could hear them cheering him on, and he’s a good runner. Toward the end of the race people were telling me he was gaining on me. I don’t know if they were saying that to get me to run faster, but it’s always in the back of my mind that I need to keep pushing.”

He finished in 16:33.34, shaving 16 seconds off his mark set at Schoolhouse. Meyer finished at 16:51.09 for second place. More than a minute later, Camanche’s Jeremiah Jones crossed the finish line in third at 18:19.14.

It was an eventful week for Jones, who has missed most cross country practices this year for football practices. He was first appreciative of Indians football coach Steve Dougherty for letting him come to the meet on the eve of a football Friday.

“It was all up to him,” Jones said. “We go to (Center-Point Urbana) tomorrow and it was all his decision.”

Jones had his sights set on finishing in the top 10. He felt “blessed” after finishing behind only Meyer and Kaczinski.

“I’m a bit of a stats guy,” he said. “I looked to see who would place high up here, and I knew it would be Eli and Andrew, obviously.”

As with the girls race, the boys meet was top-heavy with Northeast runners. Hunter Bielenberg, Nick Kennicker and Brendon Butler were each top-12 finishers, allowing the Rebels to beat out second-place Bellevue 40-60.

NORTHEAST INVITATIONAL

GIRLS

Team standings — 1. Northeast 21; 2. Maquoketa 57; 3. Easton Valley 80; 4. Marquette Catholic 83. Note — Prince of Peace, Calamus-Wheatland and Bellevue also participated but didn’t have enough runners for a team score.

Individual leaders — 1. Hannah Kilburg (NE) 16:22.27; 2. Jackie Kokjohn (PoP) 16:23.02; 3. Megan Slattery (CW) 17:06.06; 4. Madlin Kaczinski (NE) 17:18.77; 5. Aleenah Marcucci (NE) 17:34.52; 6. Meghan McLaughlin (EV) 18:06.06; 7. Janey Saunders (Maq) 18:07.51; 8. Kaitlynn Riley (NE) 18:10.71; 9. Molly Sieverding (MC) 18:22.32; 10. Ellie Burmahl (Maq) 18:23.59.

NORTHEAST — 1. Kilburg 16:22.27; 4. Kaczinski 17:18.77; 5. Marcucci 17:34.52; 8. Riley 18:10.71; 13. Alyssa Roth 18:35.13; 14. Cara Soenksen 18:37.50; 15. Haleigh Hughes 18:43.13.

PRINCE OF PEACE — 2. Kokjohn 16:23.02.

CALAMUS-WHEATLAND — 3. Slattery 17:06.06; 11. Kailey Potter 18:30.15; 18. Diana Koester 18:56.89; 26. Sierra Rodriguez 20:28.20.

EASTON VALLEY — 6. McLaughlin 18:06.06; 16. Rose Strait 18:47.39; 24. Abby Smithson 20:21.46; 29. Andrea Junge 21:32.33; 31. Brooke Wagner 22:22.50.

MAQUOKETA — 7. Saunders 18:07.51; 10. Burmahl 18:23.59; 17. Cassandra Ruppert 18:54.64; 20. Ashley Becker 10:21.96; 21. Sofie Andersen 19:34.88; 22. Tess Nissen 19:36.78; 28. Peytone Tracy 20:45.00.

MARQUETTE — 9. M. Sieverding 18:22.32; 19. Kristina Koos 19:14.70; 25. Bella Berthel 20:24.38; 27. Anne Nolting 20:41.51; 30. Claire Davis 21:45.08; 32. Ellie Sieverding 22:22.88.

BELLEVUE — 12. Rachel Kilburg 18:33.27.

CAMANCHE — 23. Courtney Martens 20:04.75.

Note — The junior varsity girls winner was Natalie Sullivan of Bellevue in 20:36.68. Winner of the girls middle school race was Camryn Reeg of Bellevue in 11:51.43.

BOYS

Team standings — 1. Northeast 40, 2. Bellevue 60, 3. Prince of Peace 74, 4. Maquoketa 82, 5. Marquette Catholic 84, 5. Camanche 119. Easton Valley and Calamus-Wheatland participated but didn’t have enough runners for a team score.

Individual leaders — 1. Eli Kaczinski (NE) 16:33.34; 2. Andrew Meyer (Belle) 16:51.09; 3. Jeremiah Jones (Cam) 18:19.14; 4. Lucas Schmidt (MC) 18:25.34; 5. Zach Koppes (Maq) 18:39.25; 6. Hunter Bielenberg (NE) 18:43.01; 7. Cale Gent (Maq) 18:44.82; 8. Nick Kennicker (NE) 18:48.12; 9. Logan Peterson (Cam) 18:54.33; 10. Jacob Jankowski (PoP) 18:59.64.

NORTHEAST: 1. Kaczinski 16:33.34; 6. Bielenberg 18:43.01; 8. Kennicker 18:48.12; 11. Brendon Butler 19:04.82; 19. Christian Knutsen 19:36.07; 23. Jaden Butler 19:49.15; 27. Sam Smith 20:12.58.

BELLEVUE: 2. Meyer 16:51.09; 14. Logan DeVries 19:12.09; 15. Josh Sieverding 19:20.14; 17. Nate Goslin 19:29.76; 20. Anders Frieberg 19:21.36; 30. Chase Kueter 20:31.00; 35. Jake Till 20:56.72.

CAMANCHE: 3. Jones 18:19.14; 9. Peterson 18:54.33; 31. Zach Hines 20:36.64; 34. Brady Determan 20:39.44; 38. Aiden McMinimy 21:02.72.

MARQUETTE CATHOLIC: 4. Schmidt 18:25.34; 18. Karter Kilburg 19:30.78; 22. Sam Peters 19:39.83; 24. Logan Schroeder 19:52.90; 25. Kelby Mueller 19:57.53; 28. Michael Peters 20:14.00; 29. Lucas Frank 20:22.28.

MAQUOKETA: 5. Koppes 18:39.25; 7. Gent 18:44.82; 13. Ryan Murphy 19:11.62; 33. Jacob Miller 20:37.96; 39. Sam Fowler 21:23.81; 41. Joey Lyon 21:36.75.

PRINCE OF PEACE: 10. Jankowski 18:59.64; 12. Devin Bly 19:07.52; 16. Dermot Bly 19:23.56; 21. Seth Moeller 19:36.58; 26. Caleb Kitteringham 20:02.94.

EASTON VALLEY: 32. Andrew Kilburg 20:37.32.

CALAMUS-WHEATLAND: 36. Cole Moeller 20:59.72; 37. Jon Licht 21:01.62; 40. David Benischek 21:31.02.

Note -- The winner of the junior varsity meet was Aaron Beckley, of Bellevue, with a time of 20:03.12. Marquette Catholic Justin Herrig was the winner of the middle school meet with a time of 11:53.94.