Prospect has trio of answers

  • Prospect cross country runner Mike Leet.

      Prospect cross country runner Mike Leet. JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Prospect cross country runner Max Daleiden.

      Prospect cross country runner Max Daleiden. JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Prospect cross country runner Quentin Shaffer.

      Prospect cross country runner Quentin Shaffer. JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

 
By Michael Eaken
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 8/30/2012 4:52 PM

Entering the 2011 season, the Prospect boys cross country team had plenty of questions, but by the Class 3A state meet in November the Knights had all the answers.

Thanks to the emergence of Quentin Shaffer, Michael Leet, and Max Daleiden, Prospect was able to address many of the questions that followed the team and finish sixth in Class 3A.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

This year Shaffer and Leet, both seniors, will combine with Daleiden, a junior, to form a core of the Prospect team that has high aspirations.

It is quite turnaround from last season when the three were introducing themselves to the program.

Leet was returning from a severed tendon in his right ankle that wiped out his sophomore cross country and track season. For Shaffer and Daleiden it was their first season in cross country.

And the three did a pretty good job of introducing themselves.

Leet rebounded from his injury to take eighth in the Mid-Suburban League and fourth at the Schaumburg sectional. He capped his year by making 3A all-state with a 20th-place finish.

Shaffer made-up for a so-so conference race by taking 13th place at sectionals and finishing in 48th place at the state meet.

Leet and Shaffer had cemented their status as the 1-2 runners for the Prospect program. It took a bit longer for Daleiden to make his mark, as he struggled some at the end of last cross country season, failing to crack the top seven for both the sectionals and state meet.

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But Daleiden used a strong spring, running a 4:23 in the mile, and has developed into a top three runner for the Knights this season.

It is safe to say the three Knights have arrived.

"It's a different feeling this year," said Leet of Knights' progress. "I think we can take what we did last season, and use that confidence."

Prospect finished fifth in the MSL last season, but the Knights turned it up notch in the final three weeks, taking first at the Hoffman Estates regional, second at the Schaumburg sectional and sixth in the state.

"We started running better at the end," said Shaffer of the Knights' strong finish. "This year I think we can be better than even what people think. We just have to keep up what we're doing."

The end of the 2011 cross country season did not mark the end of the Knights growth. In many ways it marked the beginning.

The three continued to develop during the spring in track. Especially Shaffer, who turned a few heads by running a 9:17 to take first in the 3,200 at the Loyola sectional.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Shaffer transferred from Florida to Prospect in his sophomore season and a full year of training seems to be paying off this season.

"I think it's a lot easier knowing what to expect," said Shaffer of his experience. "Especially after a great track season. We feel like we can live up to our expectations and get our goals."

Daleiden also emerged from a solid track season ready to contribute to the Knights success. After playing soccer in the fall of his freshman season, Daleiden also benefited from a full season of running and is feeling much more comfortable heading into the upcoming season.

"After building the base I feel like I'm ready to step up," said Daleiden, who is ready for a major role this season. "Last year's seniors Josh Campos and Mike Thill took Shaffer and Leet under their wings, and those two have taken me under their wings and showed me how hard you have to work."

Leet showed no letdown in coming back from his injury in his sophomore season, and is ready to add to his success this season.

"I came back from the injury with a hunger and appreciation for the sport," added Leet. "I feel like I can definitely build on what I did last year."

The Knights trio know they cannot do it on their own, and they will depend on the contributions of junior Blake Hallman, senior Thomas Paczko, junior Max Gonzalez, sophomore Mike Anderson, junior Ben Pederson, and sophomore Tommy Matthews to reach the teams goals.

So what are the expectations?

"I expect them to be here for practice, I expect them to communicate, but do I have aspirations yeah," added Prospect coach Mike Stokes of the upcoming season. "The guys have been working hard."

Shaffer, Leet, and Daleiden took a break from their busy preseason schedule to discuss those aspirations on a Saturday in late August.

"We always work hard," said Shaffer of the Knights commitment, "and I think we can match our expectations or even better."

"We're going to do what Prospect does every year," added Leet. "We'll finish strong."

So what are those aspirations?

"We all want trophies," said Daleiden. "But that's everyone's goal, that's the reason you run in the state meet."

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