ROCHELLE — Zach Sanford wanted to participate in a spring sport during his junior year at Rochelle Township High School. Already a two-sport varsity athlete with the football and basketball programs, Sanford decided to compete for the track and field team after talking with head coach Dale Bergeson, who had wanted Sanford on the team since his freshman year.
Sanford found immediate success in track and field, becoming one of the varsity team’s leading throwers and point scorers in the field events. Despite suffering an ACL injury during the summer, Sanford has been working his way back to full strength for his senior season.
Throughout his recovery, Sanford has received support from University of Dubuque track and field coach and recruiting coordinator Jake Malm. That support played a factor in Sanford’s decision to continue his academics and his track and field career at the University of Dubuque next season.
“I chose Dubuque because I really enjoyed the campus and the atmosphere it had,” Sanford said. “The coach was very concerned with my recovery and he checked in with me every week, which stood out to me. I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to compete for a few more years after high school. I’ve learned new things and I’ve met new people throughout my time with the high school team and I think those things have helped me a lot.”
Sanford set personal-best distances of 128 feet 8 ½ inches in the discus throw and 45 feet 4 inches in the shot put during his junior season. The 6-foot-6, 240-pound athlete, who said he plans to compete in the discus, shot put and hammer throw with the University of Dubuque team, finished second in shot put and seventh in discus at the Interstate 8 Conference Championships this past season. Sanford also took third in shot put at the IHSA 2A Rochelle Sectional.
“We’re very proud of Zach and his commitment to track and field at RTHS,” Bergeson said. “His hard work has paid off tremendously. As a staff, we’re excited to see what Zach will accomplish this year at RTHS and in the future at the University of Dubuque. We couldn’t ask for a better athlete to represent RTHS in track and field at the collegiate level.”
Now a three-sport varsity athlete, Sanford has spent four years with the RTHS football and basketball programs, earning an All-Conference Honorable Mention during his junior basketball season. Sanford said he plans to study general science in high school education at the University of Dubuque in hopes of pursuing a career in teaching and coaching in high school athletics.