Reese Garland | Photo by Dan Chamness

Oak Park and River Forest High School senior and three-sport athlete Reese Garland discovered something about herself after all-state honors at her first IHSA Class 3A girls track and field state meet in 2022.

“I learned that I’m a very competitive person and I respond well to competition,” Garland said. “I’d consider myself a very competitive person, but also I have fun under pressure and that’s what I love.” 

On May 20, Garland went out with two more personal bests and top-nine, all-state medals in her state return at Eastern Illinois University before leaving for the school prom.

Garland finished second in discus with a lifetime-best 44.39 meters/145 feet, 7.75 inches and fifth in shot put with an outdoor-best 12.93m/42-5 just shy of her 42-9.75 best indoors.

Last year, Garland was fifth at state in discus with a then personal-best 128-6.5. The University of Southern California recruit graduates as the Huskies’ No. 2 thrower to 2009 graduate Brittany Smith, who holds both event school records. 

“I was so close to beating the (147-plus discus) school record,” Garland said. “I felt pretty confident, and I’m really happy with my results. Shot put was good. I could have done a little better, but top five still.” 

Discus and shot put distances carry over for the 12 finals qualifiers from Friday’s preliminaries to Saturday.

In shot, Garland was third after prelims at 12.93 meters but was passed by two throwers Saturday who exceeded 13 meters. Garland then turned her attention to discus, where she also was third entering finals (42.04m/137-11).

“I just kind of changed my mindset and used that as motivation to throw further and placed me top two,” Garland said.  

On her first throw in finals, Garland moved into second (144-9) followed by the 145-7. Huntley senior Ally Panzloff won with a lifetime-best 48.73m/159-10.5.

In 2022, Garland was an all-state fifth in discus with a then personal-best 128-6.5 and began gaining interest from college coaches.

Track had become her primary sport.

“I love how competitive it is and how it’s all on you, and you versus another person, which is what I love,” Garland said. “[State] definitely changed my mindset with volleyball, basketball versus track.”  

Garland hopes to compete at the AAU nationals this summer under personal coach Derek Evely. She’s also coached by OPRF head and throws coach Nick Michalak and her father, Ty, the OPRF boys throws coach. Junior brother Kaden is headed to state in discus and shot after earning an all-state fifth in discus in 2022.

“We definitely try to aim for first. If we don’t, then it’s a whole big deal,” Garland said. “Definitely {Kaden] pushes me. We lift together. It’s really fun and we have only a couple of months left with that.” 

OPRF senior Avery Minnis was 24th in the 3,200 (11:40.42), whose finals are in two heats Saturday. Minnis will compete at St. Louis University.

Other OPRF finishers in Friday’s preliminaries were senior Natalie Quinn (personal-best 5:06.90 in 1,600-meter run), junior Hannah Franke (15th in pole vault, 3.28m/10-9), freshman Alexis Henderson (1.55m/5-1 in high jump), junior Taylor Smith (17th in triple jump, 10.98m/36-0 1/4), the 4×200-meter relay of sophomore Amelia Hammersley and freshmen Chloe Kozicki, Violet Schnizlein and  Maisie Hoerster (21st, 1:45.80) and sophomores Bella Brauc (21st, 1:00.36) and Julia Brown (24th, 1:00.99) in the 400. Junior Katherine Johnston (pole vault) and Brauc (high jump) missed opening heights of 9-9 and 5-1. Junior Brianne Davis fouled her three discus throws.


Fenwick sophomore Mia Menendez again finished an all-state seventh in the Class 2A 800 meters on May 20, her 2:19.02 easily beating her seventh-place 2:20.38 finish from 2022. 

“I actually think [the finishes] kind of felt quite similar. I was just trying to get it my all,” said Menendez, whose school-record 2:16.78 won sectionals. “I definitely feel like I have more experience. From all of the training, that’s helped me grow, too, as a runner. I’m very excited for next year, motivated to keep improving.”

Fenwick senior Bella Daley, who will walk on at Illinois, was 11th in the 3,200 (11:23.01), 6.08 seconds from ninth.

Trinity’s 3,200 relay of senior Jasmine Arzuaga, sophomore Jade Morelli, senior Amanda McGreal and junior Myla Roy was 23rd in Class 2A (10:33.78).

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