Oak Park and River Forest High School senior Nick Parrell made a significant leap in the challenging West Suburban Conference Silver Division boys cross country hierarchy on Oct. 15.

In the state’s toughest conference, Parrell finished seventh at the WSC Silver meet after taking 26th in 2021.

“My improvement and our improvement this whole season, it’s just been great,” Parrell said. “I’m happy to be a part of this team. I couldn’t ask for a better one.”

The Huskies’ great strides were nearly enough for their second WSC Silver title in program history.

Defending champion Hinsdale Central, however, edged the Huskies 49-54 for the title on the Red Devils’ Katherine Legge Memorial Park home course. 

Senior Liam Newhart’s 14 minutes, 36.3 seconds for 3.0 miles was second to Hinsdale Central senior Dan Watcke (14:34.5), who defended his individual title after verbally committing to University of Oregon the previous weekend.

OPRF junior Michael Michelotti (6th, 15:02.8), among four juniors in third through sixth, and Parrell (15:07.9) also earned top-16 all-conference honors, followed by senior Owen Augustine (18th, 16:46.6), junior Lewis O’Connor (21st, personal-best 15:50.1) and senior Roan Egan (31st, 16:31.5). Battling illness, junior Daniel Johnson did not finish the race.

“We ran well without one of our top seven runners,” Newhart said. “To have Lewis O’Connor step up so much is really, really encouraging going into the state series. We take from this a lot that we can go forward with.”

ORPF, ranked No. 4 by both ILXCTF.com and IlMileSplit.com, edged third-place and No. 3/2-ranked Downers Grove North (58 points) to equal its best WSC Silver finish since 2010. The Huskies’ lone title came in 2001. 

“We had big improvements, and there’s a lot of season still left,” OPRF coach Chris Baldwin said. “Obviously we would have liked to have won, but [we’re] very happy with second place. I know these guys are still hungry.”

Newhart nearly captured the individual title. With about 500 meters left, he took the lead past Hinsdale Central junior Aden Bandukwala (3rd, 14:46.1). Watcke, an 800-meter state champion, surged with 300 meters to go.

“I obviously knew his speed. He just came out of nowhere and caught up to me, but I knew that was a realistic possibility,” Newhart said. “I covered his move as much as I could and, unfortunately, he had another gear.” 

In the girls race, the No. 14/17 Huskies were sixth (147) among the WSC Silver’s six state-ranked teams.

Juniors Lenny Sterritt (22nd, 19:02.9) and Katie Stabb (27th, 19:13.6) and senior Avery Minnis (28th, 19:20.0) were the Huskies’ top finishers, followed by junior Anne Lynch (34th, 19:52.8), senior Abby Lofgren (36th, 20:00.5) and junior Rachel Prentiss (40th, 21:26.2). 

Stabb, ninth in 2021, was seventh midway through the race. To protect a slight leg injury for the state series, senior Natalie Quinn was a late scratch.

“We struggled a little bit today,” OPRF coach Ashley Raymond said. “Maybe [Quinn] being pulled out kind of last minute impacted the whole team more than I thought. I’d rather this happen today.”

Both teams compete at the IHSA Class 3A Lyons Township Regional on Oct. 22. The girls compete at 9 a.m. and the boys at 9:45 a.m.

Fenwick boys 3rd at CCL

The Fenwick High School boys cross country team placed three individuals in the top 10 at the Chicago Catholic League meet Oct. 15 at Lewis University in Romeoville.

The Friars, who finished third as a team with 80 points, were led by Nathan McKillop, who came in third with a time of 15:26, Grayden Rill (6th, 15:52.3) and Dean O’Bryan (7th, 15:59.5).

Other Fenwick runners were Benicio Carideo (32nd, 17:00.9), Finn Munley (34th, 17:07.09), Chris Badja (37th, 17:17.4) and Jake Leonardi (45th, 18:03.8).

Trinity 5th, Fenwick girls 7th at GCAC

At the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference cross country meet Oct. 15 at Lewis University, Trinity High School placed fifth with 125 points, while Fenwick was seventh with 178 points.

The Blazers had all seven runners place in the top 50, led by freshman Molly McGreal, who ran a personal-best time of 19:10.7 to finish 10th.

“The last three weeks or so, Molly has taken things to another level,” said Trinity coach Johann Gonzalez. “She’s been doing great and having her sister [senior Amanda] by her side helps each of them out.”

Jasmine Arzuaga (17th, 19:27.3), Amanda McGreal (29th, 20:16.4), Ella Miller (31st, 20:20), Myla Roy (41st, 21:06), Laura Murphy (44th, 21:40.2) and Alexa Gonzalez (47th, 22:02.9) completed Trinity’s lineup.

The Blazers and Fenwick will compete in the IHSA Class 2A Hinsdale South Regional on Oct. 22. Gonzalez feels the team title will come down to his team, Nazareth Academy and Riverside-Brookfield.

“I think it’s going to be a close race among the three of us,” he said. “It would be great to win the regional.”

Fenwick senior Bella Daley continued her strong season, coming in fourth overall with a time of 18:33. Other Friars competing were Ava Martinez (36th, 20:35.6), Kyra Miller (43rd, 21:26.8), Molly Weber (48th, 22:25.2), Emma Brennan (51st, 22.41.1), Adelai Kaiser (57th, 23:51.1) and Amalia Anderson (64th, 25:01.7).

Melvin Tate contributed to this report.

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