The two people Kelsey Schrader always wanted to see after a race were her older brother and sister.
Ashley and Nick, both of whom ran for the DeKalb cross country teams, were the ones Schrader constantly looked up to. So when Schrader finished fourth in the Class 2A state meet in Peoria, her final time wearing a DeKalb cross country uniform, she found her family first.
“For them to be able to see my last race within high school cross country, it really meant a lot,” Schrader said. “They were here for me every step. They know what I want to accomplish and would say I just need to go out there and give it my all.”
For Schrader’s accomplishments this season, she has been named the 2013 Daily Chronicle Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, the fourth consecutive time she has won the award, completing a rare high school sweep.
After advancing to the state meet as a freshman and finishing 38th in Class 3A, Schrader was an all-state honoree each of the next three seasons. She’ll leave DeKalb as the most decorated girls cross country runner in area history.
“She’s gotta be the smartest kid I’ve ever coached,” DeKalb coach Mike Wolf said. “She knows what to do and that makes it really easy for me to coach. She knows what to do and how to run her race even if something happens.”
But Schrader’s success starts with her family support system, Wolf said.
Schrader tagged along to Ashley and Nick’s high school cross country meets before she officially became part of the team in 2010. She saw both her siblings each run in the state meet and remembers the 2007 postseason race when both DeKalb teams took home regional titles.
She never got a chance to run with either sibling in high school, but their impact still was felt.
“They played a big role into it. They obviously had a lot of experiences on their own,” Schrader said. “They would always give me little tips about how important summer training is. Just having a really good work ethic in the sport, but at the same time loving it.”
Wolf, who has coached a Schrader kid for the past 10 seasons, said it will be strange not to have one on the team next year. After track season in the spring, Schrader likely will join Nick as a Division I collegiate runner.
When Schrader got to hug her family after the state meet, they couldn’t help but get emotional.
“It was kind of hard for all of us because we were able to let some tears go a bit. It was kind of sad, but it was definitely nice they were able to be there,” Schrader said. “Whatever I end up doing, they’re proud of me and they just love how I look at running.”
ALL-AREA GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY TEAM
Kaneland, sophomore Bower helped Kaneland qualify for the state meet again and finished 37th in Peoria. She was the top finisher for Kaneland, crossing the finish line in 18:33.
Kaneland, junior Clinton was the defending Class 2A state champion, but spent much of the season getting back into running shape after focusing on triathlon in the offseason. She finished 76th in the state meet, but led the Knights with an 11th-place finish at sectional.
Sycamore, senior Lalowski’s progression as a runner continued as she improved on a 10th-place finish at regionals to an eighth-place finish in the Class 2A state meet, earning all-state honors for the first time.
DeKalb, senior Schrader finished fourth in the Class 2A state meet and was the Daily Chronicle Runner of the Year for the fourth consecutive year. It was her third all-state finish. She will continue to run in college, but hasn’t made a final decision yet.
DeKalb, senior York was one of the senior leaders who helped DeKalb advance to the sectional meet as a team. She finished 14th in the Sterling Regional and 40th in the sectional and consistently was the Barbs’ second finisher behind Schrader.
Erika Carlson, Kaneland, senior Aislinn Lodwig, Kaneland, junior Christa Nordgren, Hiawatha, senior Sara Schafer, DeKalb, senior Abby Shaw, Kaneland, freshman
– Ross Jacobson, email@example.com