Season Preview: Rochelle boys track and field team

Senior Connor Lenkaitis will lead Rochelle in both sprint and distance events this year. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Dobbs looking for results from young runners this season

ROCHELLE — The Rochelle boys track and field program ran its first races of the 2019 season this past weekend, when the Hubs competed against DeKalb and Belvidere in a triangular meet at DeKalb High School.

The Hubs will field a young lineup this spring, and as Rochelle pushes through the indoor season, head coach John Dobbs said the program’s emphasis will be on keeping its student-athletes healthy until the weather warms up. Dobbs also said the school’s new approach to coaching its track and field runners will hopefully provide more results.

“Our biggest concern is keeping our guys healthy because we can’t get our guys outside on the track yet,” Dobbs said. “We’re forced to run indoors, and sometimes we’ll run into some hip flexor or lower-leg injuries because of the pavement… We have eight coaches now working with both the boys and girls teams, and I think that’s going to help us hone in on better skill development with our kids.”

Dobbs said around 23 boys will suit up for the Hubs this season including seniors Greg Ricketts and Connor Lenkaitis, who Dobbs said he will be looking for leadership from in the team’s sprints and sprint relays. Rochelle’s distance crew and distance relays will feature runners such as senior Jessee Infante and juniors Gyvanziel Quinonez and Santi Cordoba.

“We’re expecting a lot of young kids to help us right away because we have a small team this year,” Dobbs said. “We’re going to expect contributions from everybody… Our distance runners have been working together well in practice. Jessee, GQ and Santi are a nice threesome and they take turns pushing each other in practice.”

While numbers may be small, Dobbs said the team has a good chance to excel in the field events this spring. The Hubs are returning senior Mason DeLille, who was the program’s High Point Award winner last season as a three-event jumper (high, long and triple).

Sophomore Trevor Goodwin will also compete in the jumping pits, and junior Aaron Vondergathen is expected to lead Rochelle in the pole vault. Senior Ryan Friestad will take the lead for the Hubs in hurdling events.

“Our strength is in the field events right now,” Dobbs said. “We take pride in working hard in those areas and we expect a lot of growth there. We have some kids in those events who have a chance to be state qualifiers this year, and once we get to the outdoor season, I’m hoping those kids will be ahead of where they were last year.”

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