The Oak Park and River Forest High School boys cross country team is determined to remain among the state’s best.

The 2022 Huskies finished fifth at the IHSA Class 3A state meet (233 points) to equal the program’s second-highest finish from 1980. They also were second at the West Suburban Conference Silver Division Meet — the state’s toughest conference — to equal their highest finish since 2010.

This pre-season, they are ranked No. 5 in 3A by MileSplit Illinois and No. 8 by

“We took the program to heights it hasn’t been in 30 years, and they want to continue to build on that through hard work and their commitment to each other,” OPRF coach Chris Baldwin said. 

Four return from the Huskies’ first state team qualifier since 2016 and only second since 2010. Senior Michael Michelotti (36th, 15:40.72 for 3.0 miles), was the Huskies’ No. 2 finisher behind graduated state runner-up Liam Newhart, now running at Wisconsin. Seniors Lewis O’Connor (111th, 16:13.83) and Daniel Johnson (148th, 16:25.14) and junior Andrew Harmon (207th, 16:54.51) were the team’s No. 5-6-7 state finishers.

Michelotti was an all-regional fourth and at the WSC Silver Meet was an all-conference sixth.

Seniors Mariano Escobedo and Henry Schacht, along with juniors Finn Kelly, Liam O’Connor and Connor Schupp, were state alternates. Kelly joined Michelotti, O’Connor and Johnson on the all-state sixth-place 3,200-meter relay at Class 3A state track in May.

Juniors Jack Gallery and James Nacke and sophomores Bennett King and Brady Creel also should contribute. Schacht and senior Cameron Chi will be integral to promoting the team culture that fostered last year’s progress.

OPRF boys track and field head coach Tim Hasso and Stephen Traphagen join this season’s coaching staff.

“It’s really impressive to see their desire not only to see their success but their teammates’ success as well,” Baldwin said. “I would consider it a successful season as long as we continue to work and the results will play out how the results play out.”

OPRF’s Sterritt eyes 4th girls state meet appearance

OPRF senior Lenny Sterritt seeks her fourth state appearance after qualifying for the IHSA Class 3A state meet individually in 2022 and finishing 111th (19:22.82) following her 39th-place 19:00.9 at the Waubonsie Valley Sectional. 

The Huskies were 12th at sectionals, five places from the last team berth. Senior Katie Stabb (60th), junior Malie Casel (79th) and senior Anne Lynch (88th) were the team’s No. 3, 5 and 6 sectional finishers.

The Huskies are No. 24 in the 3A pre-season rankings.

“This summer has been a period of growth for our team,” OPRF coach Ashley Raymond said. “We have a wonderful group of seniors whose emerging leadership is setting the tone for hard work and improvements.”

Senior Rachel Prestes; juniors Alana Gerona, Julia Chang and Nora Butterly; and freshmen Helen Donoho, Lily Harmon and Athena Hassler are among other prospects. Last season, Gerona ran at regionals and Prestes competed at the WSC Silver Meet, where the Huskies were sixth.

With qualifying teams, Sterritt was 200th at state in 2021 and 78th at the invite-only 2020 ShaZam Championships in place of an IHSA-sanctioned state meet.

Stabb, 57th at state in 2021 (17:51.08), ran as fast as 17:25 as the team’s top runner most of last season. At sectionals, Stabb was 14 places from the last individual state berth and began experiencing foot pain that became diagnosed as a stress fracture that sidelined her the entire track season. Raymond said Stabb began running three weeks ago and should return to competition mid-season.   

Kaley Villasenor joins this season’s coaching staff. Both OPRF teams will play host to the Class 3A regionals at Schiller Woods in October.

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