Oak Park River Forest senior cross country runner Josephine Welin. | File.

Oak Park and River Forest senior Josephine Welin not only continued her winning ways at the state’s toughest girls cross country sectional Saturday. She’s continuing to improve heading to the IHSA Class 3A state meet Nov. 6 at Peoria’s Detweiller Park.

“I’m hoping to win, obviously, and run a good, fast time,” Welin said.

“I’m very excited (for state), feeling more and more ready every single day. I’m happy to have some solid training, finally. I’ve been kind of busy and then my injury over the summer, but now I’ve had a good five weeks of training so I definitely feel more fit and ready.”

Welin and the third-place Huskies impressively qualified at the Hinsdale Central Sectional, which featured eight of the top 11 teams ranked in Class 3A by ILXCTF or MileSplitIL.

Welin (17 minutes, 31.90 seconds) won the 3-mile race by 4.14 seconds over charging Downers Grove South senior Sophia McNerney at an always challenging and weather-beaten Katherine Legge Memorial Park course.

“I ran I think the best I could on the day in these conditions,” Welin said. “I feel like this course was a good challenge I needed to conquer, and the hills and the mud kind of kept me engaged in the race. I really like this course.”

The Huskies (131 points), ranked No. 5 and 9 in the state polls, only finished behind Hinsdale Central (104) and Naperville North (111).

Sophomore Katie Stabb (17th, 18:34.20), juniors Avery Minnis (30th, 18:53.97) and Natalie Quinn (43rd, 19:28.80) and senior Samantha Duwe (53rd, 19:40.00) rounded out the Huskies’ top five finishers, followed by sophomore Lenny Sterritt (99th, 21:00.56) and junior Anne Stine (103rd, 21:19.03). Duwe and Stine had sat out regionals to help heal injuries.

In the boys race, OPRF junior Liam Newhart (26th, 15:58.39) qualified individually as one of the top 10 finishers not among the seven advancing teams. As a team, OPRF was 10th (249) in a field with seven top-nine rated teams.

Newhart’s mother, Colleen (Bolin), was an all-state 10th for the OPRF girls in 1994.

“Her picture is on the wall in the school (for all-state). Hopefully mine will be too,” Newhart said.

The Huskies’ other finishers were junior Owen Augustine (51st, 16:16.50), senior Lou Delano (56th, 16:20.61), junior Nick Parrell (70th, 16:35.44), sophomore Michael Michelotti (73rd, 16:37.50), senior Adam Weiss (82nd, 16:47.06) and sophomore Daniel Johnson (118th, 17:41.10).

Fenwick boys take sectional title

In Class 2A, Fenwick has high state hopes after its boys cross country team won the Fenton Sectional 59-98 over Kaneland.

The Friars, who have never won a state trophy in the sport, are ranked No. 2 to downstate Morton in both final regular-season polls.

Sophomore Nate McKillop (4th, 16:43.3), junior Grayden Rill (5th, 16:43.4) and senior Zac Daley (7th, 16:44.7) were top-10, all-sectional, followed by seniors Carl Lukas (21st, 17:30.5) and Lee O’Bryan (26th, 17:37.9)  and sophomores Dean O’Bryan (30th, 17:44.7) and Christopher Kline (44th, 18:00.8).

The Fenwick girls were ninth (199), 30 points from seventh, but all-sectional junior Bella Daley (3rd, 19:25.7) and junior Ava Martinez (26th, 21:16.4) advanced to state individually.

The Friars’ other finishers were senior Mia Scharpf (57th, 22:29.8), sophomore Maddie Rogowski (62nd, 22:39.0), freshman Tatum Olson (67th, 22:56.3) and Francesca Reale (69th, 23:08.1) and junior Molly Weber (80th, 23:29.8).

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