Girls Track: Lady Hubs show growth despite small roster

Junior Sara Johnson lead Rochelle in both the hurdles and the distance events this season. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Underclassmen step up to earn varsity roles

ROCHELLE — Despite a smaller-than-normal roster and a lack of varsity experience, head coach Alison Vrana was impressed with the grown shown by young members of the Rochelle Lady Hub track and field team this season. With multiple freshmen stepping up to the varsity level, Vrana and the Lady Hubs will look to turn that experience into results moving forward.

The Lady Hubs finished sixth in the Interstate 8 Conference Championship meet and seventh in the IHSA 2A Plano Sectional this season. Rochelle recorded four meet victories including one over Rock Falls on Senior Night and three against Sandwich, Seneca and Ottawa. The Lady Hubs will lose three seniors in distance runner Heidi Cruz and throwers Afi Gati and Kiya Porter.

“Our season showed a lot of promise and I was happy that our girls had a chance to compete,” Vrana said. “Our team was small, but I thought we placed well in our meets and I’m looking forward to next season. We’ll have 12 of our 15 girls back and we’re hoping to have more girls come out who didn’t come out this year. I thought we did well given the circumstances.”

Rochelle will return two key juniors next season in sprinter Liberty Hayes and high jumper Teagan Meyers, who qualified for the IHSA 2A State Championship this season. Three underclassmen, including sophomore Baylie Sutton and freshmen Alivia Henkel and Kylie Smith, earned varsity starts in both the sprints and sprint relays. Junior Sara Johnson will headline a distance crew that includes sophomores Yuelma Ortiz and Ahtziri Zepeda.

“I thought the field was our strongest area,” Vrana said. “Our throwers were really strong and we had a lot of points come out of the pole vault. I’d like to see us get better on the track. We definitely have some promising young talent there and I think we’ll have a few more placers in those events next year. We want to start developing some leaders, and I think Teagan and Sara can be those leaders who step up and mentor our freshmen and sophomores next year.”

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