Cross Country: Rochelle harriers battle at Skare Park

Hub and Lady Hub teams each take third in home invitational

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ROCHELLE — For the first time since 2019, Rochelle’s Hub and Lady Hub varsity cross country teams had the chance to compete at their home course, facing off against DeKalb, Oregon, Genoa-Kingston and Iowa’s Camanche High School in the Rochelle Invitational at Skare Park.

While the trademark hay bale hurdles and mud cup were not present for the meet on Thursday, head coach Mark Zilis and the Rochelle harriers enjoyed being back on familiar grounds. The Lady Hubs took third with 55 points in the meet, while the Hubs placed third with 64 points.

“This course is what cross country is all about,” Zilis said. “The kids run through the river twice, which is something that isn’t done at any other race in the area. I think the kids are getting a little bit stronger with every practice and their improvements are showing up during races.”

Senior Sara Johnson was Rochelle’s highest overall finisher on Thursday, leading the Lady Hubs with a time of 22:43.5 for fifth-place. Junior Yuelma Ortiz landed one spot behind Johnson, finishing sixth with a time of 23:32.5. Juniors Karina Lopez and Gisselle Robles rounded out the top four Lady Hub runners, placing 19th and 20th with respective times of 29:17.5 and 30:46.7.

Junior David Wanner recorded the fastest time for the Hubs in the meet, finishing eighth overall with a time of 20:58.7. Senior Josue Huerta wasn’t far behind, placing 11th with a time of 21:16.2 while senior Peter Forsberg took 15th with a time of 22:05.5. Sophomores Parker Lenkaitis and Alex Burke finished 17th and 20th with respective times of 22:32.0 and 22:50.8.

“Sara and Yuelma are constantly fighting for the top position,” Zilis said. “Our boys are constantly gaining ground and we have several guys who are fighting for the No. 1 spot. I think both of our teams will be very competitive when October comes around. We just have to keep working hard in practice. We have a hard-easy system where we focus on three days of hard work and a few days where we back off and give the kids some rest so they can avoid injuries.”

First to the Finish

The Rochelle Hub and Lady Hub varsity cross country teams raced in the First to the Finish Invitational at Peoria’s Detweiller Park on Saturday. The Hubs finished 54th out of 55 Class 2A schools, while the Lady Hubs took 42nd out of 49 schools. Junior Yuelma Ortiz and senior Sara Johnson ran respective times of 21:13.5 and 21:31.0 to lead the Rochelle girls in the meet.

Senior Josue Huerta and junior David Wanner led the boys with times of 19:24.0 and 19:39.1.