OPRF boys track sets pace at Proviso East

Sectional champs qualify two relays, bevy of individuals for state meet

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By Marty Farmer

Sports Editor

The Oak Park and River Forest High School boys track & field team won the Proviso East Sectional championship and advanced two relays and 11 individual event qualifiers to the Class 3A IHSA state meet at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston (May 23-25).

"The effort and energy was outstanding," OPRF coach Tim Hasso said. "For the most part, we got down who we needed to get down for the upcoming weekend. The expectation [at sectionals] is to advance. Advancing with a quality seed is a plus. We were able to accomplish those things in a decent amount of events."

Mykolas Saloninas and Keon Gilbert both advanced to state with a pair of top two results in the shot put and discus. Saloninas won the shot put with a measurement of 57 feet, 6 inches and Gilbert earned second at 55-1.5. In the discus, the senior standouts reversed places as Gilbert edged Saloninas 138-11 to 138-10.

Several other OPRF runners won events, including JT Lowder (110 high hurdles: 14.32 seconds); Koren Leonard (300 IM hurdles: 40.99); Tyrone Clarke (200: 22.34); and Kwesi Yeboah (triple jump: 45-7).

The Huskies also produced several sectional runners-up/state qualifiers in Josh Cotter (pole vault: 13-2); Leonard (110 hurdles: 14.69); and Amir Blanchard (200: 22.42).

OPRF excelled in the shorter distance relays as well, winning the 400 and 800 relays in respective times of 41.81 and 1:27.84. Dallas Rapharoah, Clarke, Blanchard and Lowder made up the 400 team, while the same group plus Nazareth Bryant (instead of Lowder) took home the 800 title.

The Huskies turn their attention now to performing well via a "strength in numbers" approach at state.

"We preach about the team aspect that oftentimes gets lost in a sport where individual success matters so much," Hasso said. "We want to advance as many kids as possible through Friday's preliminary heats and into Saturday's state finals. Scoring points for the team is the ultimate goal. The state finals meet is an arms race, so having as many athletes on the track as possible that day is the key to team success."

Fenwick boys

Senior Joseph Wermes placed second in the 1,600-meter run in a time of 4 minutes, 39.39 seconds at the Class 2A Elmwood Park Sectional on May 17. He advances to the IHSA state meet, hosted Eastern Illinois University in Charleston (May 23-25).

The Friars' quartet of Chris Brady, Jared Wermes, Joseph Wermes and Owen Filbin also qualified for state with a runner-up result in the 3,200 relay in a time of 8:33.38.

Fenwick scored 48 points in the team standings to finish sixth in the 12-team field. Glenbard South won the title (162.50), followed by the host Tigers (84) and Montini (75).

OPRF girls

OPRF shared identical results with McHenry during Saturday's IHSA state finals. The Huskies' Yasmin Ruff and the Warriors'Jenna Pauly tied for fourth in the pole vault, both clearing 11-6. Each pole vaulter also accounted for her team's total scoring in the standings with 5.5.

The Huskies' Rachel Rowe (long jump/triple jump), Danielle Chapman-Rienstra (pole vault), Kshari Pittman (high jump), Tiara Ogunsanya (discus), Monica Bradford (100 high hurdles), Hannah Thompson (800) and Josephine Welin (1,600) competed in the preliminary heats at state.

Fenwick girls

The Friars fared well in the 3,200 relay and several individual events to finish 30th (8.50 score) at the Class 3A state meet at Eastern Illinois University on Saturday, May 18.

The 3,200 team of Maria Quinn, Laura Durkin, Marie O'Brien and Maggie Van Ermen came in fifth with a time of 9:51.47. The same group placed sixth in the 3,200 relay at the 2018 state finals.

Fenwick senior Claire Gatermann tied Normal U-High's Lindsey Shouse for sixth in pole vault by clearing 11-0. Gatermann, from Riverside, became the first all-state performer in pole vaultin program history.

Sophomore Katie Cahill earned 22nd in the 3,200 at 12:42.16.

Sophomore Delaney Seligmann, who also competed in the high jump and long jump in the state meet prelims, was 12th in the triple jump with a measurement of 35-5.

"Delaney became the first female Friar to earn a trip to the state championships in four different events," Fenwick coach Dale Heidloff said. "She qualified for the finals in the triple jump, but she sprained her ankle during the high jump competition on Friday and was not able to compete on Saturday (11th overall)."

Senior Colleen Grogan (300 low hurdles), freshman Amanda Behrend (high jump) and Quinn (800) qualified for state as well. Grogan didn't run due to a foot injury, while the other two took part in Friday's prelims.

"Overall we were very pleased with how the season progressed," Heidloff said. "Through our senior leaders, the underclassmen certainly improved and became ready for the sectional competition."


Senior Alexis Cohn and sophomore Kate Foley represented the Blazers in the 800 and 1,600, respectively, at state.

Cohn took 10th in the 800 final with a time of 2:24.25. During Friday's prelims, the promising Foley recorded a time of 5:44.29 in the 1,600.

Email: marty@oakpark.com Twitter: @OakParkSports

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