Girls Track: Young talent creating optimism for Lady Hubs

Junior Britney Baez will have an opportunity to lead the Rochelle varsity girls track and field team's distance crew next season. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Rochelle sends two runners to state under first-year head coach Vrana

ROCHELLE — Despite a chance in leadership this season, the Rochelle varsity girls track and field program continued its tradition of success under first-year head coach Alison Vrana. After sending two runners (Macey Ryan and Katherine Bakken) to the IHSA State Championships, Vrana and the Lady Hubs are looking to continue building up their core of young talent.

“The kids continued to progress as they gained more experience throughout the season,” Vrana said. “We were able to end the season with strong performances and I think that spoke a lot of our training program and structuring our program so the kids get the skills they need throughout the season to excel during the championship run.”

The Lady Hubs won dual meets over both Ottawa and Yorkville before finishing third in the Landers-Loomis Invitational at Oregon High School and the Woodstock Invitational. Rochelle went on to win the Ogle County Invitational at RTHS before taking fifth in the IHSA Class 2A Rochelle Sectional. Bakken is one of several seniors graduating from the program, and Vrana said she’ll be looking for runners such as junior Britney Baez and freshman Sara Johnson to step up in the distance crew and the hurdle crew next year.

“We’ll be looking for Britney to step up and start scoring some points for us,” Vrana said. “When seniors leave, they create opportunities for younger girls to step up, and I think Katherine leaving will give Britney some incentive to push harder… One of my goals over the next four years is to get more freshmen out for the hurdles.”

Ryan headlines several eligible sprinters relay runners who can return for the 2020 campaign. Freshmen Liberty Hayes, Lucy Bunger and Teagan Meyers made their marks in both categories, while juniors Angie Saldana and Kylee Brown emerged as well. Junior Gabrielle Harding and sophomore Afi Gati will lead Rochelle in the throwing events, with jumpers including Meyers and junior Maddie Ohlinger remaining eligible to compete next year.

“We definitely excelled in the field events and we had some surprises throughout the year,” Vrana said. “We’ll be looking to qualify some relays and some individual events next year, and we’ve talked with the girls about working over the offseason.”

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