Rochelle News-Leader | Girls Track: young athletes mobilize for Lady Hubs
ROCHELLE — With the exception of the 2020 season, which was canceled due to the coronavirus, Alison Vrana has brought at least one student-athlete to the IHSA State Championship meet in each of her four years. as head coach of the Rochelle Lady Hub varsity track team. With the schedule heading into the summer, Vrana and her team will be looking to continue that streak next year.
The Lady Hubs had several highlights this season, winning the Ogle County Invitational for the fifth straight time and taking third place at the Landers-Loomis Invitational in Oregon. The team also picked up multiple medalists at the Interstate 8 Conference Championship and the IHSA 2A Genoa-Kingston Section. Rochelle sent three student-athletes to the IHSA State Championship, including seniors Liberty Hayes, Teagan Meyers and sophomore Alivia Henkel.
“I think we had a very good season,” Vrana said. “We had regular seniors, but we had freshmen and sophomores who filled in the gaps and gave us one of the deepest squads we’ve had in some time. I was really happy with our work ethic and our culture really helped with that. Our juniors and seniors led the way and our freshmen and sophomores saw this leadership.
Five seniors will leave the program this offseason, including Liberty Hayes, Teagan Meyers, Sylvia Hasz, Sara Johnson and Shannon Harding. Juniors Yuelma Ortiz, Rylee Jackson and Henkel are the headliners for Rochelle’s eligible returns for next season. All three athletes have won All-Conference Awards and IHSA Section Medals in various events this season.
“Alivia will be leading our team in many open events,” Vrana said. “She excels in hurdles and she wants to try different events on the ground next year. I think she will be a huge help for our team next season and Yuelma has become an extremely strong long distance runner for us. We have long jump and triple jump athletes coming back as well.
Several freshmen have contributed to the varsity team this season, including Zoe White, Aaliyah Losoya, Marianna Saldana and Alex Neece, who won All-Conference and IHSA Sectional awards in the 800-meter relay. With the offseason underway, Vrana said sprints, sprint relays and middle-distance events are areas the team will look to expand for next season.
“We’ve missed 400 meters this season and we need to rebuild our sprint events so we can have strong stints for next season,” Vrana said. “I think Marianna is someone who has a chance to really stand out and become an asset to our team next season. Alex is also a very strong sprinter who has worked hard on her form. It will hurt to lose Teagan in the high jump and triple jump and those are a few other areas where we’re going to have to rebuild our roster.