Varsity Beats Niles North and Maine East, But Loses To Deerfield In CSL Quad Meet

Saturday, September 25 2021

After doing five CSL dual meets last season during the pandemic, the conference returned to doing just two CSL quad meets for each team. The first quad meet for Highland Park was at Harms Woods with Niles North hosting. The meet included HP, Niles North, Maine East, and Deerfield. The course is a flat forest preserve course and the weather was perfect for fast times.

The boys frosh-soph competed in a 1.97 mile race. HP had only 8 athletes competing in this race as most of the sophomores and one freshman were competing in the varsity 3 mile race. The crew in the 1.97 race got out really well to start the race. Three freshmen for the Giants led the team as they went through the mile faster than or near their timed mile time. Nicolas Prokos just missed his PR in 5:53. Robby Mendoza came through in 6:15 (6:22 was his timed mile) and Usiel Rodriguez was at 6:23 (6:34 was his timed mile). The trio faded back a bit in the race but battled tough after the fast start. Mendoza finished in 13th place with a 12:51 to lead the way for the Giants. Prokos has been battling shin issues and this was his first race of the season. He finished in 13:00 for 16th place. Rodriguez missed some recent training due to illness, but showed he still maintained a solid fitness level as he ran 13:37 and took 21st place. 

Freshmen Charles Ludington and Mateo Diaz both crushed their first timed mile of the season as they came through in 6:45 and 6:44. This was only Ludington’s second race of the season and he ran well to finish in 25th with a time of 13:54. Diaz continues to show consistent improvement from his hard work as he crossed the line in 14:26 for 30th place. 

Freshman Mason Zoeller ran a massive mile personal best coming through in 7:30 which is just over 2 minutes faster than his first timed mile of the season. He finished the race in 16:06. Sophomores Nate McDonagh and Ryan Griffith both had their best races of the season. McDonagh ran a 16:37 while Griffith crossed the line in 17:13.

The team beat Maine East, but lost to Niles North and Deerfield. These HP runners know that “training beats talent over time”. That means they will have to continue to work hard year round (especially next summer) to surpass their competition and be able to run even faster times. 

The varsity 3 mile race was expected to be a tough battle between Deerfield and Highland Park. The start seemed that way as the packs from both teams were close going through the mile while sophomore Nate Wehner got out in front with a runner from Niles North and one from Maine East. Near the halfway mark the race opened up and big moves were made. Wehner started to pull away and the Deerfield pack made an aggressive move that HP was unable to match. Junior Angel Zeferino did his best to stay with the DF pack as he fought hard the remainder of the race. The rest of the Giant pack did not stay together as they too battled to chase Deerfield. Deerfield's top two runners eventually caught up to Wehner. They fought for the lead as one DF runner and Wehner pulled away and fough stride for stride in the final 400. Despite closing in a 67 and running a personal best 15:16, Wehner came in 2nd to the incredible race run by Deerfield’s number one runner. Highland Park’s pack came across the line in 11th-15th and 17th. Zeferino ran a huge personal best in 16:13 and continues to be one of the most consistent runners for the team this season. Junior Noah Jackson ran a season best with a 16:23 as he is on the verge of a big breakthrough. Junior Alex Bradshaw fell and rolled his ankle on the warm-up but still raced to try and help the team. He ran a gutsy race in personal best 16:30. Sophomore Barak Goldstein also ran a personal best, crossing the line in 16:36. Senior Alex Brown struggled after the mile but battled back late in the race to a season best 16:41. Freshman Carter Livermore continues to impress as he raced well to finish in a very fast 16:52.

The fight up front did not go the way the Giants had hoped, but following the front runners, the team had some outstanding races and numerous personal bests. Sophomores Doug Anderson and Lukkas Nales continue to chase the top 7 and close the gap each meet. Anderson ran a personal best 17:17 and with his continued hard work will be under 17 minutes soon. Nales raced to a fast final 400 and a big personal best in 17:24. The next runner in for the Giants had one of the most impressive races of the day. Sophomore Eli Neiman was hoping to break 19 minutes for the first time ever. Not only did he break 19 minutes, but he skipped the 18s all together and ran 17:45! Neiman ran a determined, incredible breakthrough race. Sophomore Yonatan Garfinkel was just 2 seconds back in 17:47 which is a personal best despite recently being sick. Sophomore Nolan Schott continues to have a great season with a personal best in almost every race this season. At this meet he came across the line in 17:53. This is over a minute faster than his best time from last season. 

The next pack for HP included three sophomores that added more personal bests for the team. Andrew Kern has been having a fantastic season and continued that with his first sub 19 minute performance with an 18:24. After running a personal best at the challenging Libertyville Invite, Connor Edelstein followed that up with his first sub 19 as well. He crossed the line in 18:29. Ethan Love also had an awesome race joining the sub 19 club by running an 18:31. This is especially impressive as he was a sprinter and jumper last track & field season. This is a credit to his work ethic. 

Senior Ted Zinox had a huge race with a big personal best time of 18:46. Another sophomore that was not too far behind them was Zach Coren. He ran 19:07 and will be under 19 minutes soon due to his continued commitment to the training. Sophomore Eddy Picazo is another team member that was a sprinter during last year’s track & field season. He has been working hard this season and it has shown with a breakthrough time of 19:32. 

Junior Enrique Lipezker had his best race as he was aggressive from the start. He finished in 20:40 which is a personal best. Not far behind were sophomore Tyler Rosenthal and junior Ramey Heimgartner. Rosenthal is yet another sprinter/jumper from the track & field season and has been a wonderful addition to the team. He ran 20:52 after starting the season at 24:06 in the first meet.       

Heimgartner's best 3 mile time last year was 25:42. At this meet he ran an incredible 20:53! His dedication to training has allowed him to continue to drop his times. Just a few seconds back was junior Finn Davis. He ran a personal best 20:56 after last year having a best time of 21:15. 

Junior Andrew Arzac ran a season best time of 23:19. If he stays healthy, his times will drop quickly. After running a 30:04 at the Libertyville Invite, senior Marco Schulze dropped his time by several minutes with a 24:20!

The varsity team beat both Maine East and Niles North. Unfortunately, the Giants were beaten badly by Deerfield. HP was out-raced by a tough Deerfield team, but more significantly the Deerfield team had outworked Highland Park over the summer. That is when championship teams are built. If the team is going to get back to a championship level, a commitment to training next summer will have to be made by the returning members of the team!