Varsity Wins CSL North Team ChampionshipFriday, October 20 2023 - CSL Invite
The 2023 CSL Cross Country Invite took place at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex in the rain, wind, and mud. They were brutal conditions that all competitors had to endure and the times were extremely slow for that reason. It was impressive to see all of the student-athletes battle out there on the course. The weather and the course conditions got worse as the day progressed.
Due to the less than ideal racing conditions, the varsity races were moved to the start of the meet. Highland Park was ready to go for back to back CSL North Championships. Junior Brian Hatoum was right with the leader (Ben Crane from New Trier) through the mile with seniors Nate Wehner and Barak Goldstein a few seconds back. For the first time this season, senior Robert Oboza was ahead of junior Dylan Dominguez at the mile. They have raced side by side for the first 2+ miles of nearly every race. With Dominguez having an off day, Oboza focused on still having a strong race on his own. Seniors Zach Coren and Eli Neiman were together at the mile just outside the top 14 for the CSL North. At the front of the race, Crane eventually pulled away from Hatoum to win the race. Hatoum finished 2nd overall and 1st for the CSL North! Goldstein had a great final 400 despite the mud and finished in 5th overall and 3rd for the CSL North. Wehner was ahead of Goldstein until the final 400. After a fall, he was unable to regain his rhythm and fell back to 6th place for the CSL North. Oboza continued to have a strong race and took 8th place for the CSL North. Dominguez battled tough despite not feeling well and managed to finish in 10th place for the North Division. Coren had the 3rd fastest final mile for the HP varsity runners and ended up 12th in the division. This was a great race for Coren and earned him a well-deserved All-Conference spot. Neiman pushed and fought to cross the line in 18th place for the North Division. The Giants had 6 All-Conference runners and won the CSL North scoring 28 points to 56 points scored by Vernon Hills. Despite not having their best team race, the varsity finished in 2nd place overall behind New Trier. Look for much improved racing by the varsity in the upcoming State Series.
The next race for the boy’s team was the sophomores. They wanted to match the success of the varsity winning the CSL North. Henry Gamson, Lucas Hoobler, and Josh Brown all went through the mile together near the front of the race. Truman Evans and Logan Liu were the next 2 HP runners a bit further back with Evans several seconds ahead of Liu at the mile. Daniel Doyle was a few seconds ahead of Lowell Redmond at the mile. Joey Naftzger and Spencer Pedraza were near each other as they came through the mile. By the 2 mile Gamson and Hoobler were still with the leaders. Brown had dropped back, but was still in good position overall. Gamson and the top New Trier runner pulled away from the rest of the field. In the end, the New Trier runner was able to get the victory with Gamson coming in 2nd place overall. He was the top CSL North Individual Champion. Hoobler had a strong kick to end up taking 2nd for the North Division. Brown was 22 seconds back but finished in 3rd place for the CSL North. Evans and Liu ended up taking 5th and 6th for the division. HP had 5 of the top 6 sophomore finishers in the North Division! Doyle crossed the line in 9th for the division while Redmond also earned a ribbon by taking 13th place. Naftzger and Pedraza finished 4 seconds apart in 22nd and 23rd for the CSL North. The HP sophomores won the CSL North Division scoring only 17 points and put all 9 runners in the top 23 and 7 in the top 13. The team’s top 7 all earned conference ribbons. The results show that there is an exciting future for the Giants.
The JV boy’s race was next to take on the challenge of the muddy course. HP’s top runners in this race got out in 2 main packs. Junior Usiel Rodriguez and senior Luke Rhoads were together with senior Lukaas Nales just a couple seconds behind at the mile. Seniors Nolan Schott, Yonatan Garfinkel, and Doug Anderson were together about 15 seconds back with senior Connor Edelstien just behind them. In the end all 7 of these runners finished in the top 13 for the CSL North. After Schott moved up with a great last mile, Nales sprinted by him at the end to be the CSL North JV Conference Champion. Schott finished just 1 second behind for 2nd place in the division. Rodriguez, Garfinkel, and Rhoads crossed the line for the North Division in 4th, 5th, and 6th. Anderson was able to finish well for 8th place with Edelstein hanging on for 13th in the division. The top 5 for the Giants had only a 23 second time gap and the top 7 was only 54 seconds! Senior Oliver Baterdene lost both of his shoes in the mud during the race, but did not let that stop him from finishing in 20th place for the CSL North. Junior Luke Byrnes handled the conditions well as he finished in 21st for the division. Junior Quentin Kelley and senior Andrew Kern worked well together throughout the race. In the end, Kelley came across the finish in 23rd place and Kern was 25th. Junior Robby Mendoza had been injured for a significant part of the season and battled to finish in 36th as senior Ryan Griffith came in 51st for the division. The Giants won the JV team championship for the CSL North, scoring only 18 points! With several seniors in the race, it made for a memorable way to finish their season. The coaches are so proud of everything they have done to help make the program better. Their leadership will be greatly missed.
The final race of the day was the 2 mile race for the freshmen. The course was a disaster and all of the runners in the last race had to do their best to navigate the muddy course. The team was led by Abel Reese. He ran well and took 3rd place for the North Division. The next 4 runners to finish for HP were within 10 seconds of each other. Gabriel Jackson had his usual strong finish to lead this pack. He crossed the line in 8th place for the CSL North. Nate Goldberg and Makenna Duggan were 1 second apart in 9th and 10th places for the division. Madden Cohen battled through calf issues to finish in 12th place in the North Division. The 1-5 gap for the Giants was 1 minute. Cameron Wiswald and Karl Bankson continued to show great teamwork together in this race with Wiswald taking 15th place and Bankson 17th. Joaquin Martinez was right behind them in 18th place. These 3 runners were within 4 seconds of each other. Addison Courtman-Simanek had a solid race to finish in 20th place. This put 9 HP runners in the top 20! Benny Obradovic raced to a 25th place finish in the division with Joaquin Rivera not far behind in 27th place. Sam Waters missed the past few races due to illness but was able to have a nice race to come in 35th for the division. Maksar Oyurskiy was the next HP finisher taking 41st for the North Division. Russell Bleiman battled tough to take 44th for the division, well ahead of the next finisher in the North Division. The freshmen ended up taking 2nd place with 38 points for the CSL North. They were only 7 points away from 1st place. This group of freshmen have come so far since the start of the season. They have learned how to race as a team and work together in races to be more successful. Their improvement has been inspiring and gives hope for a bright future for this class of HP cross country runners.
What an experience for all of those that raced at the 2023 CSL Invite. It will be a race they will always remember. Even though the times were slow, the efforts were tremendous and the results for HP in the North Division were dominant. 3 Team Championships, 1 runner-up team finish, 3 individual CSL North Champions, 6 Varsity All-Conference runners, and a total of 25 individual award winners. The meet was a great way to boost the team's confidence going into the State Series.