So far, it’s been a pretty remarkable season for the Highland Park High School boys cross country team.
They’re 7-1 in head to head Central Suburban League conference quad meets. They placed third as a team in the prestigious Pat Savage Invitational at Niles West.
Still, you get the feeling this season won’t be complete without winning the CSL conference meet scheduled for Oct. 15 at Glenbrook North High School.
The team is led by two talented juniors, Jonah Hanig, who won a recent quad meet against Maine West, Maine East and Glenbrook North at Sunset Park, and Emmett Smith.
“We’ve got a nice one-two punch,” said Highland Park head cross country coach Kevin Caines.
Behind Hanig and Smith, the team features a plethora of veteran and experienced runners including seniors Ian Jacobs, Ari Feldman, Dodge Brown and sophomore Angel Estrada. Senior Marc Brenner and junior Tommy Mills also push the top seven in conference meets.
“They’re breaking into that elite level,” Caines said of his runners.
During its most recent CSL quad meet at Sunset Park, the team overcame inclement weather to sweep the meet 1-2-3 with Hanig, Smith and Feldman leading the field. Their top five runners placed in the top 10 giving the team easy victories over Maine East, Maine West, and Glenbrook North.
Hanig also finished sixth overall in the 37 team Pat Savage Invitational on Oct. 1.
The true barometer of success, however, will be the CSL conference meet at Glenbrook North. There the team will look to avenge their lone conference defeat of the season to Niles North, a school ranked top five in the state. Deerfield also has a talented team poised to challenge for the league title.
“In any other year I think this team would run away with the conference,” Caines said. “But Niles North is one of the top teams in the state. Deerfield is also very tough.”
Highland Park beat Deerfield by one point when they went head to head in a quad meet earlier this season. A long-time rival, Deerfield will undoubtedly be looking for revenge.
The Giants will need to bring their A-game if they want to contend for the title.