Naperville North aims for return to state finals in Peoria

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David Racey is accustomed to spending the final weekend of the boys cross country season at the state meet in Peoria.

The Naperville North coach is poised for another trip to Detweiller Park in October with seniors Kerry Gschwendtner and Jon Klaiber performing indispensable roles.

“They have a good chance of being All-State this year,” Racey said of his duo that led the Huskies to ninth place last year at the Class 3A finals.

“(Gschwendtner) has physically developed into a great runner,” Racey said. “I think he has only scratched the surface of what he is capable of doing.”

Racey is equally certain that Klaiber is ready to establish himself at a higher level.

“His improvement has really been tremendous,” Racey said of Klaiber. “He is practicing out of this world right now.”

Gschwendtner is looking to end his four-year career with team appearances at state an equal number of seasons.

“It’s just like a great feeling that I can keep going (to state), and my team will be with me,” said Gschwendtner, who finished 28th among team qualifiers last fall to lead the Huskies.

“I wanted to test what my capabilities were at the (state series last year). I think we are capable of a lot this year. We look really strong.”

Gschwendtner established his career-best time of 14 minutes, 46 seconds with his team-high finish at the DuPage Valley Conference championship last year.

“This fall I am hoping to finish top 10 at state and maybe run a 14:35,” Gschwendtner said.

Klaiber, second among Naperville North returning runners, has been on the Huskies’ last two state teams.

“It was definitely exciting to be (in the state finals) for the first time,” Klaiber said. “It was a great experience to have.”

The senior has been seeking to test the limits of his physical wellness as the season approaches.

“I want to see how my body will hold up,” Klaiber said. “(The regular season is) all about practicing for the state meet.”

The Huskies battled conference rival Wheaton Warrenville South throughout last season.

The league champion Tigers edged the Huskies by one spot at the state finals, but Racey will counter with four other quality seniors this fall: Andrew LaDeur, Christian Moore, Ryan Drendel and Patrick Miga.

“This is such a solid group of guys who are talented and dedicated,” Racey said.

Naperville Central and Neuqua Valley are also seeking return berths to the Class 3A state finals this year.

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