HP Varsity Finishes 2nd at EIU Showdown; Wehner and Hatoum Finish in the Top 10

Sunday, September 10 2023 - EIU Showdown

The Highland Park High School boys cross country team opened up the 2023 season at the EIU Showdown hosted by Neuqua Valley High School. This is a meet that has at least one coach on each team that went to Eastern Illinois University. It is not a very big invite, but it has several of the top programs in the state competing there. 

The varsity race opened up fast with HP having three runners near the front of the race. Seniors Nate Wehner and Barak Goldstein, along with junior Brian Hatoum all went through the mile in 4:55. After that, junior Dylan Dominguez and senior Robert Oboza came through the mile in 5:12. This was a great start for the team’s top 5. The next group of four HP runners came through the mile spread through the 5:20s. This included sophomore Henry Gamson, junior Usiel Rodriguez, and seniors Zach Coren and Luke Rhoads.

As the race progressed, Wehner and Hatoum stuck together with Goldstein falling back a bit. In the end, Wehner crossed the line for the 2.9 mile course in 14:44 (41 seconds faster than last year) and earned 7th place. Hatoum came in 9th place running 14:47 which was 3 minutes faster compared to 2022! Goldstein had a strong kick to hang on for 11th place in 15:09. This was 54 seconds faster then what he ran in 2022 on this course. Next in for the Giants was Dominguez with a 2:12 improvement from last year. He had the fastest final 400 (1:09) for the team and ran 15:28 to take 19th place. Oboza ended up running 15:50, which was 2:41 ahead of what he ran last year at this meet. He finished this year in 26th place. Gamson had an impressive first race as a sophomore. He ran 16:29 and finished in 35th place. Coren ran 1:18 better than last year and came in 37th place with a time of 16:37. Rhoads, in his first year running cross country, ran a strong 16:40 to take 38th place. Rodriguez was the next finisher for the Giants. He ran 16:45 and crossed the line in 41st place and ran 28 seconds faster than last year. 

The next pack to cross the line for HP were all seniors and was led by Eli Neiman running 1:18 faster compared to last season at this meet. This year he ran 17:01. The fast finishing duo of Lukaas Nales and Doug Anderson were not far behind. They both ran 17:07. Nales’ improvement from last year was 22 seconds and Anderson had an improvement of 48 seconds.  

The Giants had a bunch more runners in the 17:00s. Sophomores Logan Liu and Lucas Hoobler ran 17:18 and 17:19. This was Hoobler’s first cross country race since he did not run on the team last season. Senior Nolan Schott ran a solid 17:23 just ahead of senior teammate Conner Edelstein. Edelstein ran 17:25 for the 2.9 miles. Sophomore Josh Brown ran 17:34 and was followed by senior Yonatan Garfinkel in 17:42 (an 18 second improvement from last year at this meet). 

The next two Highland Park finishers were running their first high school cross country races. Sophomore Truman Evans completed the course in 18:36 while junior Quentin Kelley ran 18:45. The next pack of three worked well together early in the race. In the end, junior Robby Mendoza led the way with a 19:08 finish. He was followed closely by senior Oliver Baterdene in 19:09. Baterdene was 1:11 faster than last season. Senior Andrew Kern was with them early but ended up running 19:36.

Sophomores David Miller and Lowell Redmond worked well together throughout the race. This was Miller’s first high school cross country race and he finished in 20:12. Redmond was just behind him as he finished in 20:19. Sophomore Spencer Pedraza was the next HP runner to finish. He ran 22:02 for the 2.9 mile race. Senior Tyler Rosenthal finished just behind Pedraza with a 22:07. Junior Logan Berghoff was the next finisher for the team as he battled tough to a 22:57. Junior Henry Suh and senior Ryan Griffith took a wrong turn and had to go back a little on the course. They finished in 27:12 and 29:26. 

The HP varsity team took 2nd place behind Downers Grove North and were 3 points ahead of Neuqua Valley. This was a great team finish to start the 2023 season. The team must continue to focus on getting better, but they are excited for what is yet to come. 

The Giants had only freshmen race in the Frosh-Soph/JV race. The team was led by Abel Reese. He ran 12:52.08 for the 2.1 mile race to finish in 38th place. Madden Cohen was the next HP finisher after a very fast start. He ended up in 51st running 13:26.14. Gabriel Jackson and Makena Duggan worked together during the race and finished close together. Jackson ran 14:46.12 and Duggan was 14:48.80. Nate Goldberg ran 15:02.53 to cross the line next for the team. Addison Courtman-Simanek was the next Giant finisher with a 15:11.13. A few seconds behind him was Joaquin Martinez in 15:16.15. Joaquin Rivera finished in 18:27.43 to be the next HP finisher. 

This group of freshmen have been working hard, but they know they have a long way to go to reach the level of success they are striving for. The team also has several freshmen that have yet to compete. It will take continued commitment to the process and trusting in their teammates.