Cross Country: Johnson wins girls race at Walcamp

Junior Sara Johnson pushes the pack forward during the varsity girls cross country race at Walcamp Park on Thursday. Johnson finished first overall, the first win of her high school career. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Rochelle boys sweep four-team meet to stay unbeaten

KINGSTON — Sara Johnson could feel the fatigue building in her legs as she pushed through the trails at Walcamp Park on Thursday. The Rochelle Township High School cross country standout didn’t lose her focus, however, and her perseverance resulted in a first-place finish when the Hubs and Lady Hubs faced Genoa-Kingston, North Boone and West Carroll.

It was the first individual victory in a high school meet for Johnson, who finished with a time of 22:27 despite racing for the second time in two days. The Lady Hub junior was one of three Rochelle girls who recorded top-6 finishes on Thursday, with sophomores Yuelma Ortiz and Ahtziri Zepeda placing third (23:10) and sixth (24:22), respectively.

“I felt really strong today and it was incredible to win my first race,” Johnson said. “The course was pretty tough. There was an incline during the second mile that was pretty tough, but it was a nice course overall. My legs and arms were definitely sore, but once the gun went off at the start of the race, I was in running mode and I forgot about everything else.”

Johnson and the Lady Hubs (2-2) finished second out of three teams competing Thursday, scoring 40 points. Genoa-Kingston won the meet with 27 points, while West Carroll took third with 66 points and North Boone did not field a varsity team. Rochelle’s boys remained perfect on the season, winning a tiebreaker with North Boone thanks to a strong performance from freshman Luis Pizano, whose time of 21:41 put the Hubs (4-0) over the top.

“The kids ran really well today and I’m really proud of our team,” head coach Mark Zilis said. “They pushed as hard as they could and that’s how they were able to do so well. We have a really deep team and we have a lot of great young talent… This meet does a lot for us. We know we have a shot to win every meet we compete in, and that’s what we want to do.”

Rochelle and North Boone each recorded 38 points, with Genoa-Kingston taking third with 73 and West Carroll placing fourth with 82. Four Hubs earned top-10 placements on Thursday including junior Josue Huerta, who took fourth overall with a time of 20:23. Senior Aiden Seldal finished sixth with a time of 20:38, while sophomore David Wanner and freshman Parker Lenkaitis took seventh and eighth with times of 20:40 and 20:46, respectively.

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