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IHSA relents, lets Kaneland relay run

IHSA officials responded to a 21st century petition on behalf of the Kaneland girls track and field team’s 4x800-meter relay with some old-fashioned humility.

A Saturday night tweet announcing that the Kaneland and Rock Falls 4x800 groups indeed would be eligible to compete in this Friday’s Class 2A state prelims in Charleston included the Twitter hashtag #letkanelandrun.

That’s the same #letkanelandrun that gained steam less than 24 hours earlier, after a fully automated timing system malfunction in the Freeport Sectional threatened to derail the Knights’ foursome of Becca Richtman, Aislinn Lodwig, Jessica Kucera and Sydney Strang even though it had met the qualifying time.

“We were really excited when we found out that we could finally run,” Kucera said, “because I know we were really disappointed that we worked really hard and then it just got kind of taken away from us.”

There wasn’t much middle ground for reaction when the Knights completed a seemingly successful opening track final at sectionals.

Kaneland finished third in the 4x800 in 9:50.84, about eight seconds faster than the qualifying time. However, because of issues stemming from a delay caused by power troubles with the timing equipment, the race ended with only Rockford Boylan and Sterling advancing.

On Saturday morning, Knights coach Doug Ecker said the case was not appealable per an IHSA rule stating if a timing system is down for any reason at sectionals, only the top two finishers move on.

Less than 12 hours later, at just after 7 p.m., the IHSA took to Twitter and let Kaneland and Rock Falls run after officials “worked throughout the day Saturday to obtain and analyze video of the event to determine whether any accommodation was possible in this unusual circumstance,” per a news release.

“I want to think [the hashtag] helped, but, I mean, a lot of the community members and people from other schools, too, were even discussing it and people were tagging (the IHSA) in there,” Kucera said.

Kaneland navigated a long, chilly night and claimed the sectional team title by two points against Sycamore. Ecker admitted the initial 4x800 ruling left him “pretty much livid” and more upset than at any other time in a decorated coaching career. Naturally, his tune mellowed later in the day.

Kaneland’s three other relays qualified, too, and the team now hopes another entity clears one particular athlete for competition.

Senior standout Lauren Zick suffered a high ankle sprain at the May 9 conference meet, and was set to visit Fox Valley Orthopedics on Monday in Geneva for a consultation to determine whether she could run at state.

“Obviously, we don’t want to have anything go wrong for softball or anything else. Her future,” Ecker said. “Obviously, we’re extremely disappointed for her and everything, but it’s just, like, you live to fight another day, just like the girls in the 4x8.”

• Kevin Druley is a Shaw Media sportswriter. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.

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