One girl held her own in solo form throughout the season
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The state of Illinois has a long history of dominant big class distance running girls starting with Dana Miroballi (Wheeling HS) to Rebecca Mitchell (Geneva), Maria Cicero (York), and Maddie Perez (Glenbard West) among others.
The great Katelynne Hart formerly of Glenbard West HS rightfully so needs her own island because of the contributions donated to girls cross country in this state. Josephine Welin said after one cross country race during the season that it was an honor to be compared to someone that she looks up to.
Welin- the junior from Oak Park-River Forest- had been nothing short of Katelynne Hart-ish this season. Let's start by saying that Welin's dominance came during the summer when she ran 10:25.95 and 4:53.36 for the 3200m and 1600m. It was obvious that she was fit during the pandemic.
The Huskie's got off to a late-season cross country start in terms of what was allowed by their school. Welin started to jell once the calendar turned to October. She won the mighty WSC Silver Championship by over 20 seconds. That was just the beginning as Welin set course records at the regional and sectional championships that produced a season and personal best 16:33. The method that Welin used in her dominance was an attack dog style from the gun. Coach Ashley Raymond explained a bit more precisely: "each race she pushed herself more- gaining confidence and learning a bit more about her limits. By the end of the season, she had the courage to run hard from the gun and dare anyone to go with her. I am so proud of her growth and accomplishments this season."
Since there were no true post-season championships like Footlocker or Team Nationals, The Shazam Championships would have to do. Would it be Welin's personal playground? Could someone into the dungeon and challenge her? The first challenge is the rough and rugged Three Sisters Park 5k layout. There would be a portion of hills, back loop, "sand trap", and something unexpected. But the competitive field was LOADED! Undefeated Aly Negovetich of Grant was someone of major note. How about the rejuvenated Batavia star Katrina Schlenker or Maggie Gamboa of Naperville North?
By the time the championship flight four started it was over. Welin quickly bolted out as she had in the previous three weekends, separating from the field and essentially establishing two races into one. Welin's opening mile in 5:25 was nearly ten seconds faster than other girls during the series.
Welin continued to open a gap and when she crossed the second mile in 11:07, she had a 30-second advantage over Schlenker. Welin streamed home with a resounding win that capped a tremendous season, one of the best we have seen outside of a pre-ordained star in 17:25.
Congrats to Josie Welin and hats off to all of the girls in Illinois on a great season!