It wasn’t easy for Rochelle Township High School junior Mason DeLille to give up a sport he had played since he was 3 years old.
But after trading in his baseball cleats for track spikes this spring, DeLille has quickly become one of the Hubs track and field team’s biggest contributors, and he said he’s excited about the progress he’s made in his first track season since eighth grade.
“I’ve really enjoyed track and both my coaches and my teammates have been awesome,” DeLille said. “It’s a fun environment… I think the season has gone pretty well and I’ve improved a lot of my personal records so far. I think I’ve found my place.”
A three-sport athlete at RTHS, DeLille has spent three years with the Rochelle soccer program, and he’s played basketball with the Hubs for three years as well. After putting in two years with the Rochelle baseball program, DeLille was faced with a tough decision this spring, and the junior opted for track and field to position himself for more success in the future.
“It’s hard to say,” DeLille said. “There was an excess of players at my position and there are a couple more scholarship opportunities for track. I knew I would have a lot of competition on the baseball team, but I knew I would have my spot on the track team and I would be able to perform to the best of my abilities.”
While DeLille may be in his first high school track and field season, the junior certainly doesn’t lack experience or confidence. DeLille has four years of track and field exposure under his belt from when he first took up the sport in fifth grade, and his natural jumping abilities stem all the way back from playing on his trampoline while using his mother Marcy’s ankle weights.
DeLille is the only Hub to regularly compete in all three jumping events (high, long and triple), and his strongest performances usually come in the triple jump, which he said is his favorite event to compete in. His leap of 39-11 ¼ during Rochelle’s dual meet with Sterling this past Tuesday is his personal record, and he recently took first place with a mark of 39-5 ¼ during the 42nd Annual Hub Relays on Thursday.
His goal for this season is to surpass 40 feet in the triple jump, and he said he also aspires to qualify for the IHSA State Championships. DeLille is just inches away from breaking former Hub Donivyn Harms’ mark for longest triple jump by a junior (40-3 in 2015) according to athletic.net.
“Triple jump is primarily what I joined track and field to do,” DeLille said. “You need to have a strong first jump to record the majority of your distance, and your second jumps need more height to propel you farther through the air… I have a lot of fun doing the triple jump and I want to continue to grow.”
Not many high school athletes can jump higher than their actual height, but that’s exactly what the 5-foot-7-inch junior is aiming to achieve in the high jump this season. His personal record is currently 5-6, and he’s barely clipped the bar on attempts at 5-8. He said his high jump goal is to clear 5-10. DeLille’s personal record in the long jump is 18-3, and while it may not be his signature event, DeLille is still looking to improve his mark.
“I work a lot on my approach during the high jump because there isn’t much you can do once your feet leave the ground,” DeLille said. “High jump is all about your approach, and the long jump is more about changing the degree and the angle at which you jump… I try to find the perfect angle in order to maximize my distance.”
DeLille and his Hub teammates will return to action when Rochelle competes at the Kaneland Invitational this weekend. While DeLille may not have any specific role models in track and field, he said he draws motivation from his coaches and teammates, who challenge him during meets with a little friendly competition.
“My fellow jumpers really help push me to jump farther,” DeLille said. “We have little competitions during each meet to see who can jump the farthest, and those help motivate me a lot. My coaches have been great, and they’ve taught me new techniques to help me work harder.”