Cross Country: Rochelle harriers tested at three-team meet

Wanner leads Hubs with top time; Ortiz, Johnson record top-6 finishes


SYCAMORE — Tuesday was an opportunity for the up-and-comers on the Rochelle Township High School cross country team to prove themselves against two of the toughest programs around in the Sycamore Spartans and the Belvidere North Blue Thunder.

The Hubs ran a fresh-soph race for the first time this season, and three Rochelle harriers stepped up with top-15 performances including sophomore David Wanner, who placed fourth with a time of 20:33 and ran Rochelle’s fastest time of the afternoon. Freshmen Parker Lenkaitis and Alex Burke finished 13th and 15th with times of 21:59 and 22:19.

“It was great for the kids to get out there,” head coach Mark Zilis said. “We were able to go against two of the top teams in the state and I thought we competed very well. We want to learn how to race against good competition so we can understand how far we need to go.”

The Hubs (4-4, 1-3 Interstate 8) took third place in the varsity race, with juniors Luke Orlikowski (21:40) and Josue Huerta (21:42) taking 21st and 22nd overall, respectively. The Lady Hubs (3-4, 1-3 Interstate 8) fell in a head-to-head race with Sycamore, but Rochelle saw two runners record top-6 finishes on Tuesday. Sophomore Yuelma Ortiz placed fourth with a time of 23:13 and junior Sara Johnson took sixth in 23:20. Belvidere North did not bring a girls team.

“We have to continue our training and running against teams like Sycamore and Belvidere North is the best experience we can get to be where we want to be,” Zilis said. “There were a few tough hills out there, but I thought the kids handled the course well today.”

Rochelle will race against Sandwich on the road next Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.