HIGHLAND PARK FINISHES IN 10TH PLACE AT STATE; WEHNER EARNS ALL-STATEMonday, November 13 2023 - IHSA 3A State Cross Country Championships
Highland Park boys cross country reached their goal of qualifying for the 2023 IHSA 3A State Meet as a team. It was the first time since 2016. The team’s next goal was to finish in the top 10. The Giants knew that this would not be easy as Illinois has so many great cross country teams.
With this being his final State Meet, Nate Wehner knew this was his last chance to be All-State in cross country. He had a race plan that was 4 years in the making and he looked to execute it to perfection. He got out well, but made sure not to get out too fast in the first 400. He stayed patient. By the mile he was in 39th place and still came through in a fast 4:43. The next mile was crucial for Wehner to put himself in All-State position. He fought his way up to 22nd place during this mile and crossed the split in 9:44. Now, it was a matter of hanging on for the final mile. Wehner worked hard as he went back and forth with a few runners fighting for a top 25 spot. In the final 400, he gave it everything he had. Wehner showed his toughness as a runner, going through the final 400 in 73 seconds to cross the line in 24th place and earn All-State honors! He ran 14:43.46 seconds and was just 7 seconds out of a top 10 finish! What an incredible way to finish out an amazing high school cross country career at HP.
Brian Hatoum also had a goal of getting All-State, but was unable to get into that top 25 position during the race. He got out in 4:52 for the mile, which was way back in 103rd place. To his credit, he moved up a ton in the 2nd mile to come through that marker in 64th place. He crossed the 2 mile mark in 10:01. At that point, he was not feeling great and fought to hold on because he knew the team was counting on him. He had a solid final 400 and ended up in 69th place. He ran 15:11.05 which was only 8 seconds off his personal best for 3 miles. It was not the race Hatoum was hoping for, but this talented and hard working junior will be back next year to earn All-State.
Barak Goldstein got out fast again, similar to Sectionals and was in solid position through the mile. He was in 77th place at 4:48. The second mile was really tough for Goldstein as he fell back to 102nd place. He crossed the 2 mile in 10:10. In the final mile, he fought hard to maintain his position and even move up. Goldstein had a really strong final 400 of 69 seconds to pass a few runners and take 95th place. His time was 15:24.72 which was only 2 seconds off his personal best. This put 3 HP runners in the top 100 and set up the team to do well.
The next two runners for HP ran the first two miles of the race shoulder to shoulder. Dylan Dominguez and Robert Oboza did what they have done so well all season which was to work together to have great races. The duo came through the mile in an impressive 4:57 and were in 148th place. In the second mile, they continued to push each other and move up. They passed 11 to 12 people to move into 136th and 137th places. They went through 2 miles in 10:19. At this point, Dominguez started to really pick up the pace. In his final mile, he picked off 35 other runners to run 5:07! His final 400 was 67 seconds. This moved Dominguez into 102nd place with a personal best time of 15:27.27. Oboza hung on tough running the same pace for his final mile as he did in mile 2. He lost just 4 spots and finished in a personal best 15:40.63 for 140th place. These were great finishes for the team’s 4th and 5th scoring runners.
Eli Neiman and Zach Coren got out together in the first 400 towards the back of the pack. They stayed patient with their race plan and moved into 215th and 218th place at the mile. Neiman went through in 5:06 and Coren was just behind him in 5:07. During the 2nd mile, Neiman was able to stay strong and maintain his position coming through the 2 mile in 10:43. Coren also ran well and lost only 2 spots to come through in 10:45. Neiman battled tough in the final mile and moved up 11 places and had a good final 400. He finished in a huge personal best of 16:10.67 for 204th place. Coren also had a giant personal best, running 16:13.61 and crossed the line in 209th place. These 2 really represented the team well as their 6th and 7th runners during the State Series.
Despite not having all 7 HP runners run their best race, it was still a solid team race. The Giants did well moving up as a team during the race. At the mile Highland Park was in 16th place as a team. By the 2 mile, the Giants moved into 13th place. The final results had HP finishing in 10th place in the IHSA 3A State Meet! The team had the same score (330 points) as Neuqua Valley, but lost on the 6th man tie-breaker. Hersey was 8th place (329 points) and New Trier was 7th (317 points). It was incredible how close the Giants were to taking 7th place. The team was also the 3rd best finishing team from the Hoffman Estates Sectional. This was a wonderful result for the team. It was the best team finish for Highland Park since the Illinois State Meet moved to 3 miles at Detweiller Park over 50 years ago. The team had the best 1-4, 1-5, 1-6, and 1-7 team time averages of all of the Highland Park state qualifying teams. This was a special moment for the program and an amazing way to finish out the season for the team. Not only was Highland Park 10th in 3A, but they combined all 3 meets for scoring and Highland Park High School still were 10th place overall out of all 3 classes!
The senior class has left the program in a better place. They gave the team a belief that with hard work, being a top team in the State of Illinois is possible. Those on the team that are coming back next year are motivated to put in the work to help the team get back to the IHSA 3A State Meet in 2024! Go Giants!
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