Boys Track: Hale's hard work leads to new goals

Rochelle senior Parker Hale put in extra effort to become a better track and field athlete, leading to new personal records across multiple events. (File photo by Russell Hodges)

RTHS senior shows tremendous improvements in high jump, middle distance events

Parker Hale wasn’t clearing the bar very often during the early phases of his track and field career at Rochelle Township High School. Rather than giving up on himself, though, the senior high jumper decided he would do everything in his power to raise his standards.

Whether he was the last student-athlete to leave practice or spending extra time working with assistant coach Mark Zilis, Hale’s hard work resulted in significant improvements over his three years with the track and field program. In less than one year, Hale raised his personal record in the high jump by 8 inches, going from a measly 5 feet in 2018 to clearing 5 feet 8 inches at the 2019 Ogle County Championship to tie for third place and score points for his team.

“The area I improved in the most throughout my time with the RTHS track and field team was my work ethic,” Hale said. “When I first went out for the team and participated in the high jump, I wasn’t very good, and I decided I would do whatever I could to achieve a higher height. The long practices and the help from coach Zilis allowed me to achieve my goals.”

Hale’s work ethic led to several improvements on the track as well. Hale transitioned from sprints to middle-distance events during the 2019 season, running personal-best times of 57.20 seconds in the 400-meter dash and 2:26.15 in the 800-meter run. Not only did Hale ran alongside the 3200-meter relay team that placed second in the Ogle County Championship, but he cut down his 400-meter dash time from the indoor season (1:04.53) by nearly 8 seconds.

“What I enjoyed most about the track and field team was the brotherhood among the guys and the coaches who helped us achieve our goals,” Hale said. “My favorite moments with the team were any time I achieved a new personal record. There’s no better feeling than beating your results from a previous meet. Being a part of the track and field team taught me that, through hard work and determination, I can accomplish anything I set my mind to.”

Outside track and field, Hale ran with the Rochelle cross country program for two seasons, finishing with a personal-best 3-mile time of 20:39. Hale said he plans attend Loyola University in Chicago to study biology in hopes of pursuing an anesthesiology career.

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