CSL Conference Championships 2022
DEERFIELD FINISHES SECODN IN THE CSL NORTH WITH FOUR ALL-CONFERENCE RUNNERS AND DOMINATES ALL THREE LOWER LEVELS
All good things must come to an end, and Deerfield’s streak of three straight CSL North championships ended on Saturday as the Warriors placed second to Highland Park. It was a hard-fought battle, but it did not go Deerfield’s way. However, pretty much everything else at the meet did go Deerfield’s way as the Warriors dominated all three lower level races.
Earlier in the season, Deerfield topped Highland Park 27-29 in their annual dual, but Deerfield’s home course advantage and the fact that Highland Park was missing a key top five runner meant that this rematch should be as evenly matched as a Conference Championship meet has ever been. It was pretty clear that Deerfield and Highland Park would finish first and second, but in which order was anyone’s guess. Highland Park tends to be the kind of team that goes out blazing from the start while Deerfield runs more patiently and makes up ground in second half, but in this race, Deerfield got out hot with Highland Park. Dylan Cohen and Dane Brown were immediately at the front of the pack fighting for second place, and they even got within five seconds of the heavy favorite Nate Wehner from Highland Park. But when the third mile came around, the Deerfield runners were running low on gas. Wehner pulled away, and Evan Parker from Niles North came from behind to nab second place. Cohen and Brown finished in third and fourth, which is still a phenomenal achievement despite aiming for second and third. This was the first varsity Conference race for both Cohen and Brown, as well all seven of the varsity runners, so earning All-Conference honors, by finishing 3rd and 4th no less, is an incredible achievement. Ryan Jones was unable to stay with his assigned pack in the early going, but that might have worked out for the best. After a slower start, Jones was able to make moves in the second two miles and worked his way from far back to 11th place, earning himself All-Conference honors. Drew Spiegel started fast and then struggled in the third mile, but he held on strong enough to finish in 13th place to be named All-Conference as well. Freshman Jamie Chandler sacrificed glory on the freshman level to try to help the varsity team. He finished in 16th place, just two spots outside of All-Conference, and the top freshman in the conference. Eric Hogenkamp finished right behind in 17th place. Jon Wool had been battling an injury all week and ran very limited miles in the weeks leading up to this race. His injury flared up in the race, but he still fearlessly battled to finish for the team.
Extremely exhausted from the fast start, several Warriors got outkicked in the final 30 seconds of the race, but Highland Park was ahead by enough that those few points would not have made the difference anyway. Highland Park won by eight points, and no other school was remotely close to the top two. The defeat stung, but it was mostly because of the high expectations from Deerfield being so dominant over the last few years. Given the perspective that Deerfield graduated their entire varsity seven from last year and replaced them with seven first-time varsity runners, the fact that they challenged for a conference title is a big achievement in itself. And any feelings of disappointment will surely fuel the Warriors in the upcoming IHSA State Series.
While the second-place varsity finish dampened the atmosphere, the rest of the team lifted spirits by completely dominating the CSL North.
In the junior varsity race, Deerfield showed just how great their depth is. Per usual, a dozen New Trier runners jumped right to the front expecting not to be challenged. New Trier competes in the CSL South, so they’re in a separately scored competition despite running in the same race as the CSL North, but it was inspiring to see the usual green and white of the New Trier pack up front getting infiltrated by red in the second half of the race. Andrew Firestone led the way winning the individual JV title for the CSL North in a huge PR of 16:36. Jeremy Lamm had a break-out race and finished in second. He broke the 17-minute barrier for the first time with a PR of 16:46. And Matt Solovy finished third in a new PR of 17:01. Edwin Shi and Fisher Houston had tougher races, but they finished strong to close out the team scoring at 24 for a dominant victory. In the lower level races, the top fourteen are awarded ribbons that unofficially signify “All-Conference” at that level, and those five runners secured five of the 14 JV ribbons. Beyond that, Deerfield had eight runners under 18 minutes and ten runners under 19 minutes in this JV race. Deerfield’s depth is unmatched in the CSL North, and it’s a testament to how the JV runners approach their running careers with the same level of dedications as the varsity runners.
Deerfield’s sophomores lost the freshman race last year by just three points and spent all season with revenge on their minds. But they dealt with a ton of adversity this season. Just a small class of seven, they often failed to record a team score in races because of injury issues that prevented the team from having five finishers. But for the first time this season, all seven sophomores lined up together, including two runners who were making their season debut. From the gun, two Highland Park sophomores took a big lead. Nick Dowell, the defending individual freshman champion, kept his sights on those two runners and reeled them in over time before putting them way back in his rear-view mirror. Dowell ran a new PR of 16:36 and earned a sophomore CSL North championship to go with his freshman one. Danny Kriegel was trapped in no-man’s land in fourth place for the entire race without any CSL North competition anywhere near him, and that’s where he finished in 17:36. Sam Rush was the next finisher for the Warriors in seventh in 18:25. Rohin Krishnan and Ryan Osborn, who was making his season debut after an injury, worked together throughout the race to finish in ninth and twelfth place, both setting new PRs. These five runners scooped up five of the 14 ribbons on the sophomore level. Additionally, Ben Freedman made his season debut finishing in 24th and Zach Lieberman battled through an injury-plagued season to finish 29th, and both runners set new PRs in this race. With 33 points, the Deerfield sophomores got that elusive team title they had been searching for. The next closest team was Niles North all the way back with 55.
The freshmen were dealt a tough hand for this race but still pulled through with loads of PRs. With their top runner on the varsity level, their second runner competing while sick, and their third runner out with a recent injury, it would have been very easy for this group to fold. But Charlie Marks led the way by running a scintillating 11:24, a 41-second two-mile PR, to win the CSL North individual title on the freshman level. Scott Harvey, who was very noticeably sick, battled for his team. While his illness held him back from running to his potential, he still placed fourth, which was an important contribution to the team score. Hugo Albrecht-Buehler ran a 43-second PR to dip under the 12-minute barrier and place fifth. Noelan Tossing, who had an up and down season to this point, ended on a very high note running 12:10 for seventh place, a 47-second PR, and Jay Noren placed ninth in 12:11, a 58-second PR. With all five scorers in the top nine, Deerfield dominated the team race with 22 points over Highland Park’s 38 points for second. Deerfield’s sixth runner, Reed Galasinski ran a 37-second PR of 12:53 to place 14th and grab the final freshman ribbon, so six of the 14 ribbons on the freshman level went to Deerfield runners. Twelve Deerfield freshmen ran PRs of 30 seconds or more including Jon Shapkarov whose 14:30 was his fastest time by over two minutes and Jordan Blaustein who ran 19:28 for a PR by a minute-and-a-half.
In all, Deerfield won three of the four levels, had the individual champion on three of the four levels, and collected 20 of the 56 individual awards. Obviously the biggest trophy is the one that eluded them, but sometimes tough losses are even more motivating than wins. The Deerfield program is very strong and continues to be hungry as they now head into the IHSA State Series.