The Oak Park and River Forest High School boys track and field team hopes to achieve its program’s unprecedented fifth straight outdoor West Suburban Conference-Silver Division title.
The Huskies won the indoor championship by 12 points over Downers Grove North on March 18, but the outdoor five-peat will be a challenge.
“Downers Grove North is a very, very good team. We had a little more depth [and] scored in all 17 events,” OPRF coach Tim Hasso said. “We have very notable seniors but we are extremely young. I think we won the [indoor conference] frosh-soph level for the first time in my tenure.”
Sophomore Liam Moroney is the lone returnee from the 2021 IHSA Class 3A all-state second-place 400 relay (42.30) and fourth-place 800 relay (1:29.14). Senior Jeremy Pierre helped the 800 relay qualify at sectionals.
Senior Ian Kelley was among the WSC Silver’s premier indoor performers after taking 12th at state at the 300 intermediate hurdles (41.34), 0.64 seconds from a top-nine finals berth.
Kelley won the 400 (50.75) and the 55 high hurdles (8.09) and low hurdles (7.85) at the indoor WSC Silver meet. His 400 time was the No. 7 fastest reported 3A time this indoor season. Kelley also was part of the second-place 1,600 relay with senior Derrick Reed and juniors Alexander Hasapis and Elijah Mowatt (3:36.25).
“[Kelley is] going to be a heavy lifter for us this year,” Hasso said.
Junior Josh Meister was 21st at state in pole vault (4.10m/13-5 ft.). His personal-best 15-0 to win the indoor WSC Silver shared the No. 5 best 3A height.
The 3,200 relay of juniors Owen Augustine and Roan Egan, and seniors Ryan Leonard and Lou Delano won the indoor WSC Silver (8:00.97) with IHSA 3A’s No. 3 time indoors.
Last year’s 3,200 relay state lineup with Augustine and Delano was 21st (8:16.66). The two also competed at state with the 1,600 relay (17th, 3:30.53).
Sophomore Kaden Garland won the indoor WSC Silver in shot put (51-5½) after qualifying for 2021 state in shot (19th, 14.09m/46-2¾ ft) as the only freshman and discus (21st, 34.61m/113-6). Junior Cole Roberson completes the one-two punch in throws.
Versatile senior Patrick Diakite has been strong in high and triple jump and will complement Kelley in hurdles along with senior Derek Isom. Sophomore Mehki Austin transitioned quickly from basketball to indoor track as evidenced by placing second in Silver high jump.
Junior Liam Newhart, an IHSA 3A individual state qualifier in cross country (45th), ran a second-place 9:37.85 at the indoor WSC Silver meet already in range of the 9:29.30 state-qualifying standard. Senior Ryan Leonard was third at 2021 sectionals in the 800.
Junior David Flint, senior Josh Dennis and promising freshmen Caleb Schulz and Kwabena Osei-Yeboah will be keys to the depth of the sprint group.
Injury delays Welin’s spring debut
OPRF senior Josephine Welin, the defending IHSA Class 3A state champion in the 3,200 (10:36.36) and runner-up in the 1,600 (4:42.55), is hoping to make her season debut soon.
Welin, who will compete next fall at the University of Washington, was diagnosed with a stress fracture in February. After an injury last summer, Welin overcame limited training to win the Class 3A girls cross country state title last November.
Senior Darnesha Fraley and junior Rhea Richards are among returnees from the 2021 state-qualifying 1,600 relay (21st, 1:47.84).
Fraley won the 200 (26.94) at the indoor Silver Meet March 18 and was part of the second-place 800 relay with Richards, senior Saniya Shotwell and junior Sage Bryning.
Junior Reese Garland won the indoor WSC Silver title in shot (35-9¾ feet) and has improved her best to 37-6. She’s also a state contender in discus, where she finished fourth at sectionals behind two seniors with a personal-best 100-7½.
Senior Lena Tang (pole vault) and Bryning (triple jump) also finished fourth at 2021 sectionals. Tang has exceeded the 10-3 state-qualifying standard indoors, including 10-10 and 10-6 for second at the indoor WSC Silver meet on a title tiebreaker.
Sophomore Katie Stabb’s fourth-place 3,200 (11:20.74) at the indoor WSC Silver meet already is in range of the 11:07.39 state-qualifying standard.
Others back from the sectional lineup include seniors Lucca Bibbey and Eva Carson, juniors Avery Minnis, Natalie Quinn and Ada-Louise Wigfield and sophomores Lenny Sterritt, Elsie Kren and Willa Aumann. Others to watch include senior Olivia Rafia, juniors Teshell O’Neal, Alicia Gaylord and Justice Clark, sophomores Vivian Wienke, Katherine Johnston, Taylor Smith and Chloe Johnson and freshmen Bella Brauc and Cori Anderson.