Without much suspense on whether his team will run again next week, Kaneland coach Chad Clarey was just glad to see the Knights get there in one piece.
Kaneland finished second at its own Class 2A sectional Saturday at Elburn Woods, scoring 69 points to finish behind Crystal Lake Central's 31.
"I'm just pleased we made it through the day seemingly healthy," Clarey said. "We had some spot performances by some juniors that helped perk us up a little. We did a better job collectively of pushing forward than we did a weekend ago at the conference meet. I think we still looked a little rusty but a little less tired than a week ago."
One of the main runners Clarey wants to get to 100 percent is his No. 1, Kyle Carter. Two weeks ago during a workout on Columbus Day, Carter started having problems with his IT Band.
At full strength Carter would have been on the heels of Crystal Lake Central's Alex Baker, who set the course record earlier this fall at the Eddington Invitational and won the regional Saturday in 15:37, and runner-up Joe Cowlin from Prairie Ridge.
Carter fell off that pace but is getting closer to returning to top form.
"Kyle is working his way back in," Clarey said. "He knows the things he needs to fix. He feels it's more mental than physical. He has to get that edge back to him and enjoy running more and I think he'll be fine."
Connor Johnson set his PR in passing Carter at the end of the race to finish in 16:36.7 to Carter's 16:37.2.
The rest of the Knights also moved up. Nathaniel Kucera improved his PR by 42 seconds to place third for the Knights.
"If the rest of the pack can respond to what he's doing and he can keep that going I think it's a benefit and a bonus to all of us," Clarey said.
Kaneland's four through six runners stayed within 23 seconds: Luis Acosta (17:14.4), Brandon Huber (17:24.0) and John Meisenger (17:37.3).
Sycamore (96) and Prairie Ridge (97) were third and fourth in the team standings with Burlington Central (107) fifth and Hampshire seventh in the eight-team field.
Burlington Central coach Vince Neil was glad to see his team close the gap on the same schools who had buried his squad earlier this fall. The Rockets also are sectional-bound after taking fourth.
"Kaneland had destroyed us all year, Sycamore had beat us soundly," Neil said. "For us to be within 9 points of several of those teams, our goal was to be within 10 points of some of those teams."
Clay Musial led the Rockets in 11th overall in 16:53. Teammates Josh Schwarting (17:16.6), Dan Morgan (17:19.7), Thomas Osko (17:37.8) and Kyle Neubauer (17:43) followed Musial.
"Our goal for him today was to be in top 10," Neil said of Musial. "You have to set yourself up for next week. It's running well today and running with that mix of guys so next week you compete with the big dogs. He stepped up. He's looking pretty strong right now. We're excited about the team opportunities next week and some of our individuals."