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Prep Track Insider: Neisendorf looks to make history for G-K

Genoa-Kingston high jumper Danielle Neisendorf attends practice at Genoa-Kingston High School in Genoa earlier this season. Neisendorf is looking to qualify in the high jump  for the state meet at sectionals on Friday.
Genoa-Kingston high jumper Danielle Neisendorf attends practice at Genoa-Kingston High School in Genoa earlier this season. Neisendorf is looking to qualify in the high jump for the state meet at sectionals on Friday.

The biggest issue for Genoa-Kingston senior Danielle Neisendorf coming into this season was her health.

For the past two seasons, Neisendorf has fought through injuries, managing to reach the state meet at less than 100 percent.

This year has been no different as the senior missed two weeks with a shin injury, but pushed through to win the high jump at 5-4.

“She’s still battling some issues,” G-K coach Barry Schmidt said. “I had her in the open 200 [at Big Northern Conference meet], but it’s just too much.”

If Neisendorf clears 5-2, the Class 2A qualifying height, she’ll become the first G-K girls track athlete to go to state all four years.

Hoping to join her will be teammate Brianna Kramer, who ran a personal-best of 48.09 in the 300 hurdles at the Big Northern Conference meet. Her time is only .25 seconds off the Class 2A qualifying time of 47.84.

“Brianna has really come on late the last couple weeks,” Schmidt said. “She’s right there, she’s right there.” 

Clinton to run: One athlete who was noticeably absent from last week’s conference meets was Kaneland’s Victoria Clinton.

The Class 2A cross country state champion wasn’t entered in any of the distance events at the Northern Illinois Big 12 meet at DeKalb. But Clinton will be running at sectionals after missing last week’s meet because of a conflict with a national triathlon competition.

Clinton will run the 1,600 for Kaneland while senior Abby Dodis and Brianna Bower will be the Knights’ two entries in the 3,200.

[Dodis] has run the qualifying time [of 11:48] once,” Kaneland coach Doug Ecker said. “She’ll have to do that at the sectional. She’s run well for us.”

VIEWS: Managing athletes, entries not an easy task

It's not easy being a track and field coach, managing a team of 50-plus athletes spread over a variety of events.

Sometimes the most important coaching decisions are made before the meet even starts and none are more crucial than setting a team's postseason lineup.

It's a complicated process that has to take into consideration the meet's schedule of events, the preferences of each individual athlete, and the strengths of the entire team.

Kaneland coach Doug Ecker faced a difficult decision with junior Lauren Zick, who is coming off three conference titles in the 100, 200 and 400 last weekend. In the end, Kaneland decided to use her in the long jump, 4x100 and 4x400 relays. She'll also run the open 100 or 400. Ecker said the open 200 is Zick's favorite race, but using her in the 4x400, which immediately follows the 200 as the meet's last event, meant Zick would have to forego the 200.

Distance runners have an even tricker proposition as the longer races have a bigger impact on their ability to recover quickly, especially on back-to-back days in Charleston at the state meet.

For the most part, coaches try to get the most athletes as possible down to the state meet with some special consideration made to seniors.

"You just kind of pick and choose what ones you think you can qualify in," Ecker said. "Just trying to get them down [to state], putting them in position."

Ross Jacobson is the sports editor of the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached via email at or follow him on Twitter @RossJacobson.

Spotlight on...
Lauren Zick, jr., Kaneland

Zick won the 100, 200 and 400 at the Northern Illinois Big 12 championships on Friday. The junior also took second in the long jump.

What to watch for...
Sycamore, Kaneland, DeKalb boys at NI Big 12 conference meet in Dixon, 3 p.m., Friday
Postseason stretch starts for the boys teams as the NI Big 12 congregates in Dixon.

Genoa-Kingston, Sycamore, Kaneland girls at Class 2A Burlington Central Sectional, 4 p.m., Friday
Local teams will try to qualify a number of girls to state at the 16-team sectional.

Individual power rankings...
1. Jasmine Brown, sr., DeKalb, jumps: Double-winner at NI Big 12 championships
2. Lauren Zick, jr., Kaneland, sprints: Three-time winner at NI Big 12
3. Dion Hooker, so., Sycamore, sprints: Ran 10.96 in 100 at Harlem.
4. Dave Emmert, sr., Sycamore, 800: Barely missed Sycamore school record last week with 1:56.
5. Dylan Nauert, jr., Kaneland, hurdles: Defended 300 hurdles title at Kane County meet.
6. Kyle Carter, jr., Kaneland, 800: Part of Kaneland's winning 4x800 and 4x400 teams at county
7. Marc Dubrick, sr., DeKalb, distance: Won 1600 at Harlem.
8. Nathan Kucera, jr., Kaneland, middle distance: Teamed with Carter in both relay wins.
9. Billy Weissinger, sr., Hinckley-Big Rock, high jump: Medal threat if healthy by postseason
10. Christina Delach, jr. Kaneland, pole vault: Second place at NI Big 12 championships.

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