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CSL Conference Championships





That’s three! After a title drought that lasted from 2008 to 2019, Deerfield won its third straight CSL North championship on Saturday. And this one was the most dominant win yet.

The Warriors entered the CSL Championships as the favorite to win the North Division, but there were several unknowns. Would Highland Park challenge? How many Deerfield runners would earn All-Conference by finishing in the top 14? Could the front Deerfield runners challenge for the individual win? And of course, how would Ryan Bernstein fare in his first race back from injury with very minimal training?

As the race started, the Deerfield runners found their spots. Cole Bernstein and Lucas Moskovitz had their eye on Nate Wehner from Highland Park, although they were several meters back and willing to start a bit slower. David Fisher got off to a fast start near Carter Levinson and Eric Lakemaker in the top ten. A bit further back, Evan Morris got out to a more conservative start and had Ryan Bernstein running on his tail.

Around the mile mark, Cole Bernstein started pressing and caught up to Wehner with Moskovitz not far behind but struggling to maintain contact. In the second mile Cole made a move to pass Wehner, but his move was not strong enough as Wehner stayed attached. In the final half mile a small gap opened between Cole and Wehner giving the Deerfield fans hope, but as the runners hit the track for the 300m finish, Wehner had closed the gap and pulled ahead of Bernstein with 200m to go. It looked like Cole’s early move may have been too aggressive. But with 150m to go Cole found one more gear for a final exhausted push past Wehner to capture a thrilling CSL North individual title. Bernstein is the sixth Deerfield runner to win an individual CSL North title, and the first since 2016. It also caps off a tremendous four year career in the conference where Cole is now Deerfield’s second ever four-time All-Conference runner after finishing 7th as a freshman, 3rd as a sophomore, 6th as a junior, and now winning it all senior year.

While all this action was happening at the very front, right behind it all was Moskovitz. He too hoped to challenge for the win, but he did something just has hard—keeping it together the best you can when it’s not your day. It is easy to get discouraged watching your competitors pull ahead, but Moskovitz maximized his performance for the team and finished just five seconds behind Wehner for third place.

Fourth place was Lukasz Iwanowski from Maine East, but then it was a 20-second long Deerfield stampede from fifth place to ninth.

Levinson and Lakemaker worked well together for most of the race finishing in fifth and sixth. Morris made big moves after his conservative start to pass half a dozen CSL North runners and finish in seventh. When Morris passed Fisher, Fisher did a nice job of latching on and finished just three second back in eighth. And although he lost contact with Morris early on, Ryan Bernstein started making big moves a bit later and passed every CSL North runner on the way up to his teammates’ backs in ninth place. Ryan had run only twelve times this season before Saturday, but he grinded hard in the pool and on the bike for months. The fact that he retained this level of fitness with such minimal running is indicative of his incredible work ethic in the face of adversity. As Ryan runs more miles in the coming weeks, expect to see a steep upward trajectory.

All seven runners earned All-Conference honors, and it wasn’t even particularly close. The final All-Conference runner crossed the finish line 28 seconds after Ryan. This was an all-senior varsity seven for Deerfield, although there were some first-year varsity runners. Levinson, Morris, and Fisher earned their first All-Conference honors while Lakemaker earned his second and Moskovitz and Ryan earned their third. Cole, of course, earned his fourth. Since all seven runners graduate this year, next year’s varsity lineup will be all new, but the lower levels showed that Deerfield’s future is in good hands.

But before we get to the returning runners, there was a standout senior in the JV race. Jonah Satyr came from way behind both literally and figuratively to finish as Deerfield’s top runner in this race. Satyr ran as Deerfield’s third or fourth runner for most of this race, but cruised to the front with a 5:46 final mile to take second overall. Prior to this season, Satyr figured to be in contention to contribute in the top seven, but injuries got in the way of that. Satyr’s mindset had to shift from running fast to simply running at all. In the last month Satyr has only run a handful of times, but he willed himself to the starting lines of races, including this one. All expectations were off, but Satyr delivered in a big way.

Satyr led the JV team to a dominating victory with 22 points. Fisher Houston had yet another breakout performances to place third, Nadav Basa placed fourth, Drew Spiegel placed sixth, and Jack Gordon rounded out the scoring in seventh. In total, Deerfield collected eight of the top 14 ribbons in this race with Carson Amstutz in eighth, Ethan Blacher in ninth, and Jeremy Lamm in 14th. Also notably, senior Nick Krishnan capped off a phenomenal career with a 34-second personal best of 20:22. Krishnan’s first three mile race freshman year was 34:21. Four years of hard work and consistent training whether in season or out lead to an improvement of almost 14 minutes. Krishnan is living proof that you don’t have to start fast in order to work hard, improve, and make a lasting impact on the team.

This was Deerfield’s fourth straight year winning the JV championship—a true testament  to the strength of the program.

The Deerfield sophomores were challenged by the talented Highland Park sophomores who have been hidden in varsity races all year. But the Warrior sophomores delivered. Dylan Cohen and Jon Wool finished first and second in the CSL North by quite a bit, but there was an intense battle that the results don’t show. In reality they were battling with New Trier runners the whole race. As they entered the track finish, Cohen and one New Trier runner were neck and neck. Cohen had a slightly hotter fire burning and held off the New Trier runner by less than a second to not only be crowned CSL North sophomore champion, but sophomore champion of the entire CSL. Wool finished third overall, second for the CSL North.

Behind the front two, Eric Hogenkamp had a fantastic race to finish fifth, and he helped pull Edwin Shi to a sixth place finish. Dane Brown finished an amazing tenth place in his first race back from a stress fracture and sealed the deal on the fourth straight sophomore championship. Deerfield earned seven of the top 14 ribbons with John Healy finishing 13th and Ryan Jones returning from injury to finish 14th. Zach Bolon barely missed out on a ribbon with his fantastic 15th place finish and PR.

The Deerfield freshmen were the only group that entered Saturday as big underdogs. Vernon Hills has a very talented freshman class and looked like a lock to win. But the Deerfield newcomers challenged them. Nick Dowell found himself in a battle with the top Vernon Hills freshman and edged him out by 0.4 seconds to become the CSL North freshman conference champion. Two more Vernon Hills runners crossed the finish line before any Deerfield runners, but then Deerfield’s pack of Danny Kriegel, Elliot Miller, and Ben Freedman came charging within three second of each other in 7th, 8th, and 9th. These three and Dowell all earned top 14 ribbons. Sam Rush was the fifth Warrior through the chute in 15th place, just barely missing out on a ribbon. Despite an amazing effort, it wasn’t quite enough. Deerfield finished second to Vernon Hills by just three points. However, finishing that close to such heavy favorites is worth celebrating, and all thirteen Deerfield freshmen ran personal bests in the two-mile race. The slim loss makes the Deerfield freshmen hungry to win sophomore conference, and they have 365 days to prepare.

In all, Deerfield won three of the four levels and collected 26 of the 46 individual awards. Deerfield proved that they are not only the best program in the CSL North, but pound for pound the best program in the entire CSL. Only New Trier with its student body of 4,000 was a better team. And despite being the second smallest school in the CSL by a pretty wide margin, no other team was even close to Deerfield.

2021 has been an incredible season from top to bottom, but it’s not quite over. The varsity runners will now begin the IHSA State Series with the hope of winning a State Trophy or possibly  a State Championship.