When Rochelle Township High School senior Evan Horner took up track and field in seventh grade, he immediately took a liking to the short sprints. A natural competitor, Horner was motivated early in his career to attempt to eclipse his uncle’s top 400-meter dash time.
Horner spent four years with the RTHS track and field team, competing in both the sprint relays and the individual sprints. Horner established himself as a relay racer during his freshman season in 2017, when he participated in four different relay events including the 400, 800, 1600 and 3200-meter relay races. Horner continued to run relays as a sophomore, and his first entry in the 400-meter dash resulted in a first-place finish at the Gary Egler Boys Indoor Invitational.
“I really enjoyed the meets,” Horner said. “I loved the excitement and the nervousness I felt before races and I loved cheering on my teammates… Running for the track team taught me that I should always work hard and never quit. Running constantly during the cold and hot weather taught me about determination and helped me become a hard worker.”
As a sophomore, Horner made his greatest impact in the 400-meter events, helping Rochelle take fifth in the 1600-meter relay at the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference Championships and sixth in the Ogle County Championships. Horner ran his career-low time of 55.35 seconds in the 400-meter dash at the Northern Illinois Invitational, where he took fourth. Horner, who missed his junior season due to injuries, was primed to be a top returning sprinter this spring.
“I think my leadership skills improved throughout my time with the track and field team,” Horner said. “I was a shy kid during my freshman season, but throughout the years, I broke out of my shell and started talking and helping more of my teammates. My favorite memories are the bus rides to and from practices and meets and joking around with the guys.”
In addition to track and field, Horner spent three years with the Rochelle cross country team, recording personal-best 3-mile and 2.4-mile times of 18:54.3 and 17:06.8, respectively, during his freshman season in 2016. Horner, who plans to study business administration at Kishwaukee College, set his 2-mile personal record of 13:01.6 at the Rock River Run in 2017.