ROCHELLE — Wednesday’s 47th Annual Ogle County Invitational marked the start of the postseason push for both of the Rochelle Township High School track and field programs. The Lady Hubs successfully defended their title for the third season in a row, while the Hubs fought hard to place second amongst the best programs in the Ogle County area.
Rochelle won the girls championship for the fourth straight season, scoring 148 points to outlast the Byron Tigers, who took second place with 116 points. Rochelle finished second for the boys championship, earning 113 points and falling behind only Forreston-Polo’s boys, who won the title with 127 points.
“We compete against some tough teams in Ogle County,” head girls coach Alison Vrana said. “I think our success speaks to our training and building up our girls from their freshman year. We believe in building athletes and putting the time in when they’re younger so that they really excel by the time they’re juniors and seniors.”
Junior Maddie Ohlinger won the triple jump with a personal-best leap of 33-1 ½ while senior Cam Turner took second at 30-1 ½. Junior Angie Saldana finished second in the pole vault with a height of 6-6 and senior Abby Tilton won the long jump with a mark of 14-6. Freshman Teagan Meyers stole the show in the high jump, winning with a personal record clearance of 5 feet to come within 1 inch of the state qualifying standard (5-1).
“Wednesday’s meet really built some confidence for our girls,” Vrana said. “I think they can see themselves doing well at the sectional meet which is the key for us. It will take some really good performances for them to get in but I think there is a chance for some of our girls to qualify in the field.”
Rochelle’s 3200-meter relay team (Cam Turner, Abby Wagner, Ella McKinney and Sara Johnson) won with a time of 11:56.73 and the Lady Hubs finished second in the 400-meter relay (Liberty Hayes, Grace Garcia, Kylee Brown and Angie Saldana) with a time of 53.93 seconds. Junior Britney Baez won the 3200-meter run with a time of 13:34.56 and Tilton took second in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 17.11.
“I think we’re in a really good place as a team,” Vrana said. “We have a lot of runners in individual events and in our relays who are knocking on the door of state qualifying times. We had a lot of personal records on Wednesday and we believe our girls are ready to compete. They have a winning mentality right now.”
Liberty Hayes and freshman Lucy Bunger placed second and third in the 100-meter dash with times of 13.58 and 14.35. Senior Katherine Bakken won the 800-meter run with a time of 2:33.72 and Rochelle’s 800-meter relay team (Liberty Hayes, Teagan Meyers, Abby Tilton and Angie Saldana) won with a time of 1:54.04. Tilton won the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 51.67.
“Katherine has continued to prove she’s ready to race,” Vrana said. “We look pretty good in the 100 and the 200 if we can get Macey [Ryan] healthy. I think we have a decent chance in the 1600 relay but it will take some good performances from our freshmen who are still learning how to run the race.”
Teagan Meyers and Kylee Brown finished second and third in the 200-meter dash with times of 28.80 and 28.95. Rochelle placed third in the 1600-meter relay (Sara Johnson, Cam Turner, Abby Wagner and Ella McKinney) with a time of 5:03.63.
Senior Mason DeLille won the triple jump with a mark of 40-7 and sophomore Trevor Goodwin placed third with a mark of 39-6. DeLille and juniors Ben Hickey and Parker Hale earned the top three spots in the high jump with heights of 5-10 and 5-8. Junior Aaron Vondergathen finished second in the pole vault with a clearance of 11-6.
“Mason and Trevor are both really excited and locked in,” head boys coach John Dobbs said. “I don’t worry about them during meets because I know they’re going to perform. They seem to always get the job done whenever they need to. Mason should definitely have the confidence to clear the state qualifying mark since he’s done it once already.”
Rochelle’s 3200-meter relay team (Jessee Infante, Josue Huerta, Tucker Louis and Parker Hale) took second with a time of 9:08.36. Juniors Gyvanziel Quinonez and Santi Cordoba recorded the top two times in the 3200-meter run with times of 10:53.73 and 11:02.52.
Senior Ryan Friestad finished second in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 17.02 while Quinonez won the 800-meter run with a time of 2:02.81. Senior Connor Lenkaitis placed second in the 400-meter dash with a time of 53.59.
“We’re really keying in on GQ and Connor, especially in our 1600 relay,” Dobbs said. “GQ has made the standard in the 800 run so we’ll be focusing on his two main races moving forward.”
Senior Dylan FInkboner and Trevor Goodwin took the top two spots in the 300-meter hurdles with times of 45.30 and 46.21. Rochelle finished second in the 1600-meter relay (Connor Lenkaitis, Ben Hickey, Greg Ricketts and Gyvanziel Quinonez) with a time of 3:35.58.
“It was probably one of our better overall performances,” Dobbs said. “We had a lot of personal bests on Wednesday… Our guys are geared to set personal records right now. Our hay is in the barn. We’ve worked hard all season, so now it’s time to let the guys rest so they can perform to the best of their abilities.”