GIANTS QUALIFY FOR STATE!Sunday, November 5 2023 - IHSA 3A State Cross Country Championships
At the 2023 IHSA 3A Hoffman Estates Sectional Meet, the Giants were ready to race to earn a qualifying place to get back to the State Meet. The last time Highland Park made it as a team was 2016. 7 teams qualify for the State Meet from each Sectional. HP’s goal was to finish in the top 5.
The course was muddy from rain earlier in the week. On the day of the race, the weather was beautiful and the course was in reasonable shape considering the earlier rain. The trio of Barak Goldstein, Brian Hatoum, and Nate Wehner got out in solid position through the mile right at 5:00-5:01. Robert Oboza came through in 5:13 and was also in decent position in the race. Dylan Dominguez continued to be under the weather and it showed as he was uncharacteristically behind Oboza at 5:18. Eli Neiman and Zach Coren were right together at 5:26.
At the 2 mile, Hatoum and Wehner moved up and were just 3 seconds back of the small lead pack of runners. They both looked relaxed and were working extremely well together.
Goldstein paid for his early aggressive start and faded back in the mass of runners.
Oboza continued having a strong day as he went through the 2 mile just 10 seconds behind Goldstein. Dominguez was now 12 seconds back and fighting to hang on.
By the 2 mile, Neiman had started to pull away from Coren by about 6 seconds. Both runners were battling to try and pass people going into the final mile.
It was an incredible sight to see as Hatoum and Wehner were shoulder to shoulder in 4th and 5th place with nobody near them coming down the hill the final time. They were in fact starting to close on the Barrington runner in 3rd place.
Coming into the final stretch, Hatoum passed the Barrington runner and sprinted to the finish in 3rd place. He ran a personal best 15:03.10. This is the fastest time run by an HP runner on the Busse Woods course! Wehner came up 2 seconds short of catching the Barrington runner as he struggled to the line in 5th place. He ran a 15:14.36 for the 3 mile course. The 3rd 5th finish by HP’s two studs put the Giants in great position to qualify for the State Meet as a team.
Goldstein fought back with a better final mile to move up several places. He finished in 38th place. His time for the race was 15:42.74.
Dominguez somehow found the energy to run a fast last mile and tremendous final 400 to pass numerous people. He finished in 60th place running 15:59.79. Oboza had a good last mile as well and crossed the line in 16:00.84. This earned him 63rd place.
Neiman pulled away from Coren to finish in 112th place. He ran 16:44.28. Coren hung on to run 17:06.51 and got 130th place.
With the team not having their best overall race, everyone hoped it was enough to still qualify for State. The coaches did some estimated scoring with video that was taken of the finish. The tentative score without taking out the individuals seemed like it would be good enough. Finally, the results were posted on the bus near the finish area….4TH PLACE! Highland Park qualified for the IHSA 3A State Meet! The team and coaches were ecstatic with this fantastic accomplishment. The team had worked so hard all season to reach this goal. In addition, the team was only 16 points behind Barrington for 3rd place.
What a special moment for the Giants. Two Sectional Medalists (Hatoum and Wehner) and a State qualifying team performance. The journey is not yet completed and the team will be focused on having their best race at State to try and earn a top 10 team finish. WE > ME