“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.