Oak Park and River Forest High School sophomore Caleb Schulz (center, in dark blue) runs the anchor leg of the Huskies' victorious and state-qualifying 400-meter relay at the IHSA Class 3A Proviso East Sectional May 17. Schulz also won the 100 meters in 10.71 seconds, qualified in the 200 with a personal-best 22.22, and ran the anchor leg of OPRF's winning 800 relay. | Carol Dunning

Oak Park and River Forest High School senior Elijah Mowatt is headed to his third IHSA Class 3A boys track and field state meet with team on his mind.

The undefeated Huskies are in contention for their second top-three state trophy since 2012 and possibly first state title since 1987 after winning the Proviso East Sectional on May 17 with 169 points.

“I sacrificed the 200 [meter dash], which is my favorite race ever, to run all three [sprint] relays,” Mowatt said. “That was a very, very big thing for me and it totally worked out.” 

The Huskies earned 13 state berths, including all four relays, with top-two finishes or by achieving state-qualifying standards at the sectional. 

Senior Liam Newhart won the 1,600 (4:20.41) and 3,200 (9:17.58) and junior Kaden Garland swept discus (49.71 meters/163 feet, 1 inch) and shot put (17.66m/57-11.25). 

Senior Josh Meister (4.77m/ in pole vault), junior Kwabena Osei-Yeboah (7.17m/23-6 in long jump), sophomore Caleb Schulz (100 in 10.71), the 400 relay of junior Santiago Valle, Mowatt, sophomore Kahrmelo Weaver and Schulz (42.65) and the 800 relay (Valle, Schulz, Weaver and Mowatt in 1:28.77) also were sectional champions. 

Senior Nick Parrell (3,200 in 9:17.94) and the 3,200 relay (junior Lewis O’Connor, sophomore Finn Kelly, juniors Michael Michelotti and Daniel Johnson in 7:53.31) were second-place state qualifiers.

Schulz (200 in 22.22) and the 1,600 relay (sophomore Quinn Testore, Valle, senior Paul Delignon, Mowatt in 3:24.97) were third but beat the qualifying standards of 22.33 and 3:28.30.

Like Mowatt, Valle scratched his individual 400 meters to help the relays advance.

“I feel much better [for state], much stronger, much faster, much more team-oriented and driven. I’m definitely feeling better about this time,” Mowatt said. “I really do think that we can contend for a trophy.”

Top-nine all-state finishers earn team points. Eight OPRF qualifiers were among the state’s top-nine sectional performances with Meister and Schulz No. 1 and Osei-Yeboah No. 2.

“I think there’s five or six teams capable of winning the state title,” OPRF coach Tim Hasso said. “We got the events down that we kind of built this sectional roster around.”

Garland is the only returning 2022 all-stater, taking fifth in discus (lifetime-best 51.58m/169-2.75). At sectionals, he missed his best in shot put by one-half inch. 

“I’d say I threw pretty OK in both events,” Garland said. “I’m ready to compete, because state meet last year I went up 15 feet in the discus. I think something similar could happen this year.” 

Meister, 14th in 2022, has cleared a school-record 6-1 indoors. He just missed at 6-2 at sectionals. 

“Just trying stay consistent within the 15-foot range every meet,” Meister said. “A [personal best at state] would be really nice. A very good end to my senior season.”  

Newhart is coming off second at the state cross country meet last November for the Huskies’ fifth-place state team.

“I’ve never run at any track state for middle school or high school so this a new experience for me,” Newhart said. “I’m hoping to be all-state in both events, maybe a little higher.” 

In the 1,600, Newhart’s furious kick over the final 110 meters took him from third to winning by .30.

“I was moving on the back stretch and picked it up with 200 and on the stretch, just everything I had left. It felt great,” Newhart said. 

In the 3,200, Newhart and Parrell ran together and switched the lead before Newhart won by .36. Parrell ran a lifetime best.

“I’m very close [to all-state contention] and very excited. I’m 100 percent in for this team,” Parrell said.

Fenwick qualifies seven for state

At the IHSA Class 2A Glenbard South sectional May 17, Fenwick High School finished in third place with 89 points. The Friars qualified seven individuals for the state meet this weekend at Eastern Illinois University and won four events.

Freshman Matt Simon won the 400 meters in a personal-best time of 52.88. Senior Grayden Rill took the 1,600 in 4:31.36. Junior Nathaniel McKillop was victorious in the 3,200 in a personal-best 9:34.65 and junior Avion Brown won the high jump with a personal-best height of 1.70 meters (5 feet, 6.9 inches).

Other Fenwick state qualifiers were junior Dean O’Bryan in the 1,600 (3rd, 4:33.27), senior Joep Engbers in the shot put (2nd, 13.15/43-1.7) and junior Jalen Williams in the long jump (2nd, personal-best 6.42/21-0.7).

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