Winter watch: Athletes of the month

Courtney Kelley, Kate Brand


Zack Fennell is a two time state qualifier and current Rolla High School junior wrestling captain. He has been involved in wrestling since the sixth grade and loves the sport and competition that is a part of wrestling.

“Wrestling is different from any other sport. It doesn’t matter how big you are or how smart you are you can still succeed when you give it your best,” Fennell said.

So far, Fennell has placed sixth and third in state. He has worked hard his freshman and sophomore year to be able to make it to the top, and he is continuing to put in the work so that he can accomplish his goals this year.

“I’m not the young guy anymore, so maturity is definitely going to play a huge role this year. I have grown a lot mentally and physically, and that is going to help me a lot this season,” Fennell said.
He plans to go to state once again by putting in the hard work that is needed to make it to the top.

“Going into practice and working as hard as I can everyday, also learning form my experiences, that is what will make me the best,” Fennell said.

Besides going to state, Fennell has big plans for his team as well. As team captain, he wants the best for his team, and that means setting high goals for them.

“I want my team to win state championship, and I want individual state championship. We have a lot of good wrestlers this year,” Fennell said.

As Fennell and the wrestling team are poised for a successful season, look out for Rolla wrestling to take its place as one of the top school in the state.

“I just want the team to succeed, and I want myself to succeed too,” Fennell said.


When it comes to the sport of wrestling, the majority of the population would picture a strong man with bulging muscles, such as award-winning Kyle Dake or David Taylor. But one sophomore has been wrestling her whole life, just as these men have. Her name is Hannah O’Connor. O’Connor has had a long history with the sport, beginning when she was just seven years old.

“I started wrestling because my dad was talking to my brother, Bryce, about it, and before Bryce could reply, I said, I wanna do it dad!,” O’Connor said.

O”Connor has a love for the sport that is insurmountable.

“I love the commitment that comes along with wrestling. And I also love making friends and creating bonds with my teammates,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor is very elated that Rolla High School decided to add the girls team to the list of amazing sports that they offer.

“I think that it has brought more friendships. I have more friends now than I would have if they had not brought this team to the high school. The girls and I have become even closer than we were before,” O’Connor said.


He describes having the basketball in his hands, and there are 30 seconds left in the game, and his team is down by three points. You dribble and run down the court, and sink a 3-pointer in the last three seconds of the game. The crowd is roaring with excitement. This is a dream that junior Jack Hounsom wants to accomplish. Alongside playing football during the fall, Hounsom also enjoys the game of basketball during the winter sports season. He prefers basketball over football.

“Being on a basketball team means its a smaller team, so it is a really tight knit group of guys. It is a fun place to be and a great team of guys,” Hounsom said.

Hounsom is very proud of his teammates as well, and thinks the season is going quite well.

“I think it is going really well. We have lost only three games this season. Two of them we did not have our best player, Alec Buhr, and the other game was a close game where we just came up short,” Hounsom said.

Hounsom also has big plans for the future of the team as well.

“I hope to just win as many games as possible. I want to try and win two district championships, as well as two conference championships with this year and my senior year as well. I think we are a really good team, and we have a good shot at winning the conference and even the district championship this year,” Hounsom said.

Cross Country & Track

He describes the feeling of finally having the finish line within your sight. The feeling of excitement and relief washed over him as he crossed the line at sixteen minutes and fifty nine seconds, his fastest race time ever. Noah Crutcher, Junior, says accomplishing this amazing feat is one feeling he will never forget.

Both a track and cross country athlete at Rolla High School, Crutcher has fallen in love with both of the sports. But out of the two, Crutcher says Cross Country would have to be his all time favorite.

“There are a lot less circles,” Crutcher said.

Crutcher’s family has had a long history with the sport as well.

“Basically my entire family have been runners, so I decided that I would try it. And eventually I fell in love with it. That is the story on how I got involved with Cross Country,” Crutcher said.

Crutcher was very proud of this past Cross Country season, and is quite optimistic for this upcoming track season as

“This last cross country season went really well. I am very happy with what we were able to accomplish. As for this upcoming track season, I have been putting in a lot of work in the off season, and I am very excited for what can happen, and what I can accomplish with my fellow teammates,” Crutcher said.


Freshman Carli Libhart is new to the varsity girls basketball team at Rolla High School, but she is definitely a veteran when it comes to the game of basketball. As a freshman point guard on the team, she has a lot weighing on her shoulders.

“Sometimes it can feel very nerve-wracking. Especially since you have high expectations of yourself, and your teammates have high expectations from you,they expect a lot from you,” Libhart said.

Nevertheless Libhart exclaims that basketball is her number one.

Libhart has always enjoyed the game, even from a young age.

“In general, it is a fun thing to do. In the AAU league, you could just bring a bunch of strangers together and they become your best friends. That’s why I pay the sport,” Libhart said

This spring, Libhart is thinking about joining the track team, but is still on the fence. When she was younger, Libhart was involved in sports such as soccer as well.

“Soccer was pretty fun at a younger age, when it wasn’t as competitive.” Libhart said.

Libhart loves the environment on the team as well.

“The people around you, and your teammates become your family. They motivate you to become your best.” Libhart said.

Her memories with the girls team will be ones she will never forget as well.

“We always get placed in the hosting team’s boys locker room. We just have fun and laugh and have a good time as a team. Every moment with them is definitely a highlight,” Libhart said.