Understanding and having confidence in her abilities pushed Rochelle Township High School senior Macey Ryan to reach new boundaries throughout her four-year career with the Lady Hub track and field team. One defining example of her perseverance was revealed through 400-meter sprints, which she was unsure she could even complete early in her high school career.
“Before I ran a 400, I told everyone there was no way I would be able to finish a race,” Ryan said. “But during my sophomore year, I completed my first 400, and by my junior year, I was running 400 meters in almost every meet… Being a part of the track program taught me to be a better leader. I had talented girls to look up to during my freshman and sophomore years, and once they left, it was my turn to be a leader, and I’ll take that with me wherever I go.”
Not only did Ryan emerge in the 400-meter dash for the Lady Hubs, but she ended her career as one of the program’s most successful sprinters in several years. Ryan’s talents started to show during her freshman season in 2017, when she bolted to the Northern Illinois Big 12 Fresh-Soph Championship in the 100-meter dash with a season-best time of 13.10 seconds. Her sprinting prowess helped Rochelle qualify for the IHSA 2A State Championships in the 400-meter relay.
Ryan’s momentum continued into her sophomore season in 2018, where she pushed the Lady Hubs to the Illinois Top Times Indoor State Championships in the 800-meter relay. With Ryan’s speed, Rochelle won the Ogle County Championship in the 400-meter relay and qualified for the outdoor state championships in the event for the second straight season. Individually, Ryan took third at sectionals in the 100-meter dash and was within a second of reaching state.
“I enjoyed so much about being on the team,” Ryan said. “I enjoyed the competition at our meets. I never really knew what to expect or who I would go up against, but there were also meets where I knew who my biggest competition was and who I needed to beat. My favorite memories from track are definitely going down to the state meet. Staying in the dorms with my teammates and walking around campus was always really fun.”
Ryan’s 2019 season presented some challenges including a lower back injury and the graduation of her sprint relay teammates Jacie Wyatt, Morgan Knight and Cesca Vardman. But Ryan grew stronger as the outdoor season progressed, becoming the anchor for Rochelle’s three sprint relays and peaking in the 100-meter dash with a 12.81 to win the IHSA 2A Rochelle Sectional and earn her first state championship bid for an individual event. At the state meet, which wound up being her final outdoor competition, Ryan ran a personal-record time of 12.67.
“My biggest role model would be my dad,” Ryan said. “Even though he was not on the track with me, he was always my biggest supporter. It felt like he was on his phone every night checking the Illinois Top Times website to see who my strongest competitors would be, and he always asked me how my starts were looking. Sometimes, I felt he was more excited to be at the state meet than I was. He always pushed me to be better and helped me with my goals.”
Ryan, who also spent four years with the RTHS cheerleading team, said she plans to attend Kishwaukee College before transferring to a four-year school to major in criminology and psychology. As a cheerleader, Ryan helped the Lady Hubs win the 2018 Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference Championship and qualify for the IHSA State Championships. Ryan said she hopes to pursue a career in criminal psychology after completing her education.