Kyle Carter’s decorated cross country career at Kaneland closed in anticlimactic fashion.
The accomplished runner will have a chance to regroup in the track and field season, and then he can give cross country another crack in college. On Thursday, Carter announced his Division I commitment to run next year at Southern Illinois.
SIU stood by Carter after a difficult day last month as the senior struggled – by his high standards – in the Class 2A boys cross country state meet. Carter’s senior year was complicated by hurrying back from a stress fracture that hampered his training and kept him out of the lineup in the season’s early stages.
“In some ways, I think the pressure of wanting to do so well and hearing what other colleges were talking about, ‘If you run this time, we might have this kind of money for you,’ was a perfect storm for one crummy day, but that doesn’t spoil what he’s done for his entire cross country career,” Kaneland coach Chad Clarey said. “He had to work his way back up from missing the first six weeks to being our No. 1 runner (at the end of year).
“This is something he richly deserves and we’re very grateful SIU sees some of the great things for him that we see for him.”
Clarey said an SIU coach as well as one of the Salukis’ runners met with Carter after the state meet in Peoria. That meeting made a favorable impression on Carter, who also was considering other D-I options such as Iowa State, Illinois State, Western Illinois and Idaho.
Carter is expected to run cross country and track and field in Carbondale.
“A lot of the same talent he possesses that he’s shown us, particularly with the 800 and mile, they like those opportunities he can bring to that team, and the 400, as well. … It seemed like a very good fit,” Clarey said. “He really liked the coach. It just kind of meshed with what he was looking for.”
As a junior, Carter clocked a 15:22 in the Class 2A cross country state meet to lead the Knights to a 13th-place team finish. That time was more than a minute faster than Carter ran last month, but Clarey said Carter was not back to full health, and is taking time off now to regroup before jumping into track and field training.
Clarey said the Knights’ program might not be done placing athletes at the D-I level this year, with Nathaniel Kucera among other top runners commanding recruiting attention.
• Jay Schwab is a Shaw Media sports editor. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or email@example.com.