Cross Country: Sophomore harriers hitting their stride

Sophomores Yuelma Ortiz (above) and David Wanner (below) are two runners who could make a great impact on the Rochelle cross country team this fall. (Photos by Marcy DeLille)

Wanner, Ortiz gearing up for breakout seasons

ROCHELLE — The 2020 season may be a rebuilding period for the Rochelle Township High School cross country program, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be talented young runners lacing up for the Hub and Lady Hub teams this fall. In fact, two sophomores are preparing to make their presence felt after successful freshman campaigns this past year.

One of those sophomores is David Wanner, who saw his personal-best time fall over two minutes from the start of the 2019 season to the finish at the IHSA 2A Sterling Regional, where Wanner clocked in at 18:42.9, his fastest time of the year. Wanner broke the 19-minute mark six times as a freshman, and with one season under his belt, the Hub harrier is ready to push himself even harder as he gears up for his sophomore season.

“I thought I ran pretty well,” Wanner said. “Our practices were a lot tougher as the season went on and I was in a lot better shape toward the end of the season. I’m hoping to speed up and run under 18 minutes this year, and I want to work hard and get better. My stamina has improved since last year and I thought my times were pretty consistent overall.”

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Another sophomore ready to prove herself is Yuelma Ortiz. Like Wanner, Ortiz dramatically improved her personal record from the start of the season, taking her time down over four minutes with her best performance at the IHSA 2A Sterling Regional, where she finished with a personal-record time of 22:44.1. Ortiz was one of two Lady Hub runners to earn top-10 finishes in the Interstate 8 Fresh-Soph Conference Championships, taking 10th place in 23:35.6.

“I thought I ran well last season, especially considering that I didn’t run cross country in eighth grade,” Ortiz said. “It was nice to come back and see my times improve… I was able to sprint more during my races and I wasn’t as hard on myself throughout the season. One of my goals for this season is to record a 20-minute time and I’m hopeful that I can do that.”

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