| Photo by Rich Skora

Senior Liam Newhart’s final lap for the Oak Park and River Forest boys track and field team on May 27 was maybe his hardest. 

At the IHSA Class 3A state meet finals in Charleston, Newhart earlier was an impressive second in the 3,200-meter run and going after top-nine, all-state honors in the 1,600. 

He won the five-runner battle for sixth place.

“I was not feeling 100 percent. Just getting a medal and my finish, that made me happy,” Newhart said. “When we were coming down the stretch, it hit me that was it. I had to give everything.” 

Ten other Huskies provided all-state efforts yet there still was disappointment after finishing eighth as a team (32 points).

Junior Kaden Garland (17.58 meters/57 feet-8.25 inches) and sophomore Kwabena Osei-Yeboah (6.73m/22-1 in long jump) both finished fifth, the 3,200 relay of juniors Michael Michelotti and Lewis O’Connor, sophomore Finn Kelly and junior Daniel Johnson (7:52.23) was sixth.

Sophomore Caleb Schulz (100 in 11.02) and the 400 relay of seniors David Flint and Elijah Mowatt, junior Santiago Valle and Schulz (43.00) were seventh. Only Garland previously was all-state.

The Huskies hoped to at least replicate third-place trophies of 2019 and 2012. They were eight points shy of third and 10 from second. Events that just missed advancing during the May 26 prelims affected the Huskies’ hopes. 

Liam Newhart | Photo by Rich Skora

During the finals on May 27, Newhart’s lifetime-best 9:07.03 was second in the 3,200 by 1.05 seconds to Belvidere North senior Evan Hogan (9:05.98). 

“I didn’t put myself in the best position the first few laps. It kind of made it tough to come back but I’m proud of what I did,” Newhart said. 

In the 1,600, Newhart (4:15.06) pulled out sixth by .12 with 10th just .56 behind. 

“I wanted to win the 3,200 and I wanted to place a little higher in the 1,600 but considering the situation I was put in each race, I think I executed pretty well,” said Newhart, who will run at Wisconsin. 

In his state return, Schulz earned multiple all-state medals. He nearly made the 200 finals but was 11th (21.96), .10 from the last qualifier.

“I’m excited about both (medals). I’m just ready to go back to work and come back next year stronger,” Schulz said. 

Friday’s preliminary distances in shot and triple jump carry over to Saturday. Garland was fourth in shot Friday but could not throw further Saturday. 

In 2022, Garland was all-state fifth in discus (lifetime-best 169-2.75). Garland was 11th Saturday (45.02m/147-8), 7 feet-7 inches from ninth.

“I felt like I still could have done more (in shot), but I’m still happy. Now I’m fifth and fifth in both,” Garland said.

Osei-Yeboah remained fifth from Friday’s best jump Friday. His lifetime-best 23-6.25 won sectionals.

“I see this more as a humbling experience and I’ll improve on this,” Osei-Yeboah said.

The 3,200 relay thrived with Michelotti, O’Connor and Johnson from the cross country team’s fifth-place state finish. They first united April 15 and never looked back.

“We had really big goals and not everything came together in cross. We had high goals [in track] and I’m happy that we reached them,” Johnson said.

Mowatt and Valle also ran at state last year in the sprint relays. Flint was an alternate.

“I couldn’t have done it without them. State, it’s a different experience, way bigger, lots of pressure,” Flint said. 

“I put in my best legs possible. I’m just glad we were able to get all-state in the 4-by-100,” Mowatt said. 

On May 26, the 1,600 relay of Mowatt, sophomore Quinn Testore, senior Paul Delignon and Valle (10th, 3:23.03) and 800 relay of Valle, Schulz, freshman Kingston Petersen in his varsity debut and Mowatt (12th, 1:28.87) were .07 and .21 from finals. 

Senior pole vaulter Josh Meister, the school record holder at 16-1, did not advance after entering and missing at 14-7. Senior Nick Parrell was 19th in Saturday’s 3,200 (9:27.11).

Rill, McKillop all-staters for Fenwick

Fenwick senior Grayden Rill truly appreciated his program-best fourth all-state medal by taking sixth in the IHSA Class 2A 1,600 meters in 4:20.96, his third-fastest time ever.

Grayden Rill | Photo by Rich Skora

Rill was healthy after facing injuries during cross country and a recent lingering illness.

“Just put everything I had in that race,” said an exhausted Rill. “The last lap, my legs just weren’t moving like I wanted.”  

Rill’s highest finishes were fourth in the 800 in 2021 and with the 3,200 relay last year, his favorite memory.

“It was just a pleasure to do it for my dad [Dave] and brother [Brixton] coaching,” said Rill, who plans to be a firefighter like them and brother Skyler. “I’m definitely going to keep running.” 

Junior Nate McKillop earned all-state in the 3,200 with seventh place in a personal-best 9:30.75.

Freshman Matt Simon (400 in 54.04) was 21st, junior Dean O’Bryan (1,600 in 4:32.61) was 22nd, junior Jalen Williams (5.51m/18-1 in long jump) was 26th, junior high jumper Avion Brown missed the 5-11 opening height and senior Joep Engbers scratched shot put.

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