OPRF senior Josephine Welin (far right) competing in the 1,600 final (third place). | Photo by Laura Duffy

For her final IHSA Class 3A girls track and field state meet, Oak Park and River Forest High School senior Josephine Welin brought glitter for herself and teammates.

“I got some gel and put it in [my hair] and then sprinkled the glitter on. You know, just a little pizzazz for fun,” Welin said.

Even with minimal training after recovering from a stress fracture diagnosed in February, the defending 3,200-meter state champion and 1,600 state runner-up continued to shine May 21. 

Welin was third in the 1,600 (4:57.19) and sixth in the 3,200 (10:33.31) out of the slower-seeded first section for a pair of top-nine, all-state performances at Eastern Illinois University. 

Reese Garland

In her state meet debut, junior Reese Garland was an all-state fifth in discus with a lifetime best 39.18 meters (128 feet-6 inches).

“It’s definitely hard to put into perspective. I’m feeling pretty good about how I raced,” said Welin, who will run at the University of Washington. “At the beginning of the season, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to get a chance to compete. I’m just really grateful to be here and run as fast as I can and just be with my teammates.”

At 2021 state, Welin won the 3,200 (10:36.36) and was second in the 1,600 (4:42.55). She then won the IHSA 3A state cross country championship last November.

However, Welin was an underdog Saturday. She was cleared to run about a month ago and competed for the first time at sectionals. 

Her 11:05.21 at sectionals put her in the slower-seeded of two 3,200 sections, forcing her to run basically all alone.

“It was definitely hard to push myself – all by myself – but I’m pretty happy with how I ran,” Welin said. 

Welin also was impressive in a stacked 1,600 after running 5:01.76 in the May 20 preliminaries. While Glenbard West senior Audrey Allman (4:49.81) pulled away, Welin persevered — and surged — only 0.06 seconds behind second-place Downers Grove South senior Sophia McNerney (4:57.13).

“I’m just really happy, especially how I closed in [the 1,600]. I didn’t even think I could run that fast,” Welin said. 

The No. 17 sectional seed (34.52m), Garland entered Saturday in ninth with a then-best 35.52m (116-6) from Friday’s first throw. She began Saturday with a 36.99m, followed by the 39.18.

“I’m super excited to place fifth,” Garland said. “I was scared but then I got to the ring and I was like, ‘I love this.’ I got some adrenaline and threw it.”

Sophomore Katie Stabb’s lifetime-best 10:57.61 in the 3,200 took 18th. Senior Darnesha Fraley (200 in 27.04), junior Natalie Quinn (1,600 in 5:39.23) were 19th and senior Lena Tang was 23rd in pole vault (3.00m/9-10).

Juniors Rhea Richards and Saniya Shotwell, sophomore Chloe Johnson and Fraley were 17th in the 800 relay (1:46.47) and 18th in the 400 relay (50.02). 

The 3,200 relay of senior Samantha Duwe, sophomores Samantha Welin and Lenny Sterritt and Quinn was 19th (10:00.91) and the 1,600 relay of senior Lucca Bibbey, freshman Bella Brauc, sophomore Willa Aumann and Shotwell was 26th (4:26.61). 

Mia Menendez

Fenwick’s Menendez 7th in 800

Fenwick freshman Mia Menendez earned IHSA Class 2A all-state honors with a seventh-place, lifetime best 2:20.38 in the 800 meters, a huge drop from 2:25.77 in Friday’s preliminaries. 

“I think it was all about my mindset. It really helped to drive me and make me try to push myself,” Menendez said. “I surprised myself a little bit but I also was very tired at the end. I really gave it my all.”   

Junior Bella Daley was 13th in the 3,200 (11:23.11) and 17th in the 1,600 (5:24.41). Junior Elizabeth Braun was 19th in long jump (4.75m/15-7).

Trinity relays place 15th

The Blazers finished 15th in both the Class 2A 1,600 relay (4:24.01) with juniors Amanda McGreal, Laura Murphy and Julia Valaika and sophomore Myla Roy and 3,200 relay (10:29.36) with Murphy, McGreal, Roy and junior Jasmine Arzuaga.

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