For the last four years now, one of the most constant aspects of the fall high school athletic season in the Morris Daily Herald readership area has been the Minooka cross country team. Top runners have come and gone since 2008, yet the Indians still remain a state force when it comes to distance running.
This year is no different. Someone new is always seemingly stepping up to fill a void for the locals. As the Indians enter their "championship season" phase, Minooka has another senior stepping up who wants to be counted.
That person is Cam Knudsen.
"He's one of our top three runners this fall," Minooka cross country coach Kevin Gummerson said. "He's done a tremendous job. He's been banged up the last couple of years, but he's back now and healthy."
On Thursday afternoon after practice, Kundsen took some time out of his schedule to engage the MDH in a question and answer session and this is what was discussed.
Q. How long have you been running?
A. "I've been running since the eighth grade."
Q. What motivated you to want to start running?
A. I used to play soccer but I got bored with it. My dad is also a really good runner, so that's how I got into it.
Q. Where did you go to grade school?
Q. You ran for the cross country program there in eighth grade?
A. I was there the first year and we did pretty good. We got like 10th at state.
Q. Are a lot of those same guys running now?
A. Me, Joe (Santillo) and Erik (Brick) were the ones that were on the varsity there. Then Pierce and Will are from Channahon and they joined us in high school.
Q. Have you played other sports in your life besides soccer?
A. No. I've only played soccer.
Q. What do you like about running cross country?
A. It's a sport where you are with the team all of the time. The guys always hang out and talk on the run. The races are also fun because you're thinking, 'I want to beat this guy' and then you see another guy and then it's like, 'I want to beat that guy, too.' I like that."
Q. Coming from the eighth grade into coach Gummerson's program, what have been the things that you've seen since stepping in?
A. He works with everyone. He wants us all to do good. He doesn't just focus on the top-12 guys. He wants everyone to good every year. I like that. Nobody gets left out.
Q. As far as training and things go, there are guys from Minooka that do crazy things like taking ice baths. You're not one of those are you?
A. I take ice baths.
Q. O.K. — is that common?
A. I'm sure some of the guys don't like them.
Q. What does it do?
A. It gets the blood to the area and lets you recover faster.
Q. So, what's you're best time so far?
A. I just ran a 15:35 over the weekend in Sterling. That's my best time so far.
Q. Now going into conference, do you think you can do better than that at conference? Then do better than that at regional and then do better than that at sectional and then do better that that at State?
A. My goal since the beginning of the year is to break 15. I think I still have a chance. The races are going to be fast and if I can just drop 10 seconds every week, I'll be there.
Q. Is that realistic?
A. I feel that the sky is the limit for me.
Q. What about for the team?
A. Sometimes guys have bad races, but since the races are going to have more pressure and stuff, and the atmosphere is going to get bigger and bigger, I think we're going to do a lot better.
Q. So 10th place at State or better is reasonable?