Athlete in focus: Josephine Welin

Being her first year on varsity, sophomore cross country runner Anna Scholtens was feeling the pressures of her first big meet. Throughout the race, Josephine Welin, the varsity captain and OPRF senior, encouraged her teammate, making sure Scholtens ran all the way through the finish line. Afterwards, Welin congratulated Scholtens on a great race. “It had a very positive impact on me and really showed her genuine support for our team,” Scholtens said.

Growing up, Welin always loved running and being active. She was on the cross country team in middle school, after doing soccer for some time.

A budding superstar in both cross country and track, Welin continually goes out of her way to support her younger teammates, even with her impressive title of Girl’s 3A Runner of the Year.

Welin’s running passion synched with her hardworking personality. By the time she reached eighth grade, her eyes were set on varsity.

Welin oftentimes went to a park to speed train, alternating between slow and fast paces. Through this training, she made it to varsity, one of many achievements she would go on to accomplish.

Her breakthrough came during her first OPRF track season, when she won the 800 meter race.

Though it was a small meet, this race strongly impacted Welin. “To see that I could keep up with and even be in front of them really gave me a lot of confidence,” Welin said.

Girls Cross Country coach Ashley Raymond has witnessed Welin’s work ethic. “She is always the last one to finish lifting, she’s the last one to finish dynamics. She takes her time,” Raymond said.

Welin blossomed during her sophomore year before the pandemic, focused on carrying her cross country successes into track. “It was kind of the time where I realized that running is something that I’m very serious about and want to improve and get better at,” Welin said.

At the start of the pandemic, Welin used her time to train. “Every morning (my mom and I) would drive out to a trail to do my run for the day,” Welin said. She then came home, did strength training, and got homework done.

“Training is kind of boring sometimes but that’s what you have to do to get better. Just being excited for the little things,” Welin said, “whether that means training with some friends, or going to a trail to make the run more interesting.”

Welin’s work ethic also carries over to her studies. “There are definitely times where I have to take school more seriously than running,” she said. Last year, her AP classes challenged her, but she succeeded in both academics and athletics. Her advice for other student-athletes is to “use your time in school or study hall wisely and (stay) focused during class.”

Welin said that she struggles with nerves before races. However, she follows a balanced routine that ensures confidence on the day of the race. The night before, she loves to do “something creative that really takes my mind off of the race.” She listens to music, crochets, draws, and avoids social media.

While warming up and as the race approaches, she mentally prepares and remembers her self-worth. “I trust my training, I trust my coach, and I need to trust that I’m in a good position and I can do this,” she said.

Raymond has emphasized the pressures Welin is under as her career proliferates. “Now she’s getting national attention. She has a lot of colleges recruiting her. Now it’s just managing that,” she said. Even with increasing pressure and focus, Raymond is confident Welin can handle it just like she’s done in the past.

“I definitely was thinking about performing so (colleges) would want me to be on their team and would want to talk to me,” Welin said. However, she was able to put the stress of performing to appease colleges and focus on her personal goals, which helped set her up for college recruitment.

Welin’s mindset has certainly impacted her teammates and the team environment. “She brings a very positive attitude…that helps me a lot and that motivates me to run,” Scholtens said.

Welin also emphasized the communal atmosphere of her team. “We’re definitely very close…everybody wants to support one another,” Welin says.

Though she won first place in the unofficial state championship and has gained media coverage, Welin’s achievement of her own goals fulfills her most.

“She is incredibly humble and her goals aren’t about awards,” Raymond said. Although it was not a surprise to her since her times had consistently been best in the state, it was “nice to see that (I) got that title,” Welin said.

Her teammates and coach believe Welin’s humility and confidence will help her “have many positive effects in college regarding both academics and athletics, but in also growing new friendships,” Scholtens said.

The varsity girls cross country team breaks their huddle before their race (Photo courtesy of Josephine Welin)
The varsity team at the 2020 Shazam Invite (Photo courtesy of Josephine Welin)
The team celebrates after winning the regional meet in 2020 (Photo courtesy of Josephine Welin)