by Tom Utescher

Pictured at the 2010 Inter-Ac Championships are CHA distance runners Dustin Wilson (left) and Mike Fuery. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

After years of having sprinters and field events athletes account for much of its scoring, Chestnut Hill Academy has fared well in the distance running events over the past few seasons, and that trend should continue in the 2011 campaign.

Junior Dustin Wilson, the 2010 PA Independent Schools cross country champion, has also emerged as a force on the track, rising to national prominence. During the second weekend of March he competed at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in New York City, winning his heat in the two-mile run and then seeing his time of 9 minutes, 12.16 seconds hold up for fifth place overall.

He earned All-American status with that performance, while also running the 1600-meter-long anchor leg for the Blue Devils’ successful distance medley relay team.

The other members of the DMR quartet are all seniors, with Mike Fuery opening up with the 1200 meter leg, followed by Ian Miller in the 400 and Tate Sager in the 800. After placing ninth at the Pennsylvania indoor championship meet at the end of February, the CHA team went into the New Balance Nationals ranked 39th of 40 contenders, but finished 17th overall with a time of 10:31.41.

“Their best time the year before was a 10:53, but they shaved off time all winter this year,” related CHA head coach Paul Hines. “Their time at Nationals was the seventh-fastest of any Pennsylvania school this year.”

For regular school meets, Miller will run both the 110 high hurdles and the 300 intermediate hurdles, with sophomore Jamil Poole joining him in the 110’s, and junior Dan Trulear in the 300’s.

Senior Dan Gallagher, the CHA quarterback who’ll play football at Penn, has been a stalwart in the sprints for the Devils, but Coach Hines reveals, “We got to get him completely healthy, because he’s still a little banged up from football and wrestling. In a practice meet the other day he ran in the 4 x 100 [relay] and he looked pretty good.”

Developing sprinters include Trulear and his junior classmates Mike Duffey and Ceddy Madden. Madden is a running back on the Devil’s football team.

In the shot put, CHA returns 2010 Inter-Ac League bronze medalist Colin Kelly, now a senior, and Hines said that junior Chris Howard could also score some points in the event if he continues to improve.

The versatile Miller’s name surfaces again when Hines discusses the long jump and triple jump, and the CHA mentor says that Madden is also working out in the long jump and that sophomore Drew Dowds (a Norwood Fontbonne Academy grad) will perform in the high jump.

The CHA roster is weighted towards the junior and senior classes, particularly in the distance events, but Hines has his eye on some younger athletes who show promise. Watch for sophomores Tom Higgins and Mac Concannon in the 800 and the hurdles, respectively, and for freshmen Graham Allen (400 meters) and Frank Jackson (sprints and long jump).

As usual, the Blue Devils will host the CHA Invitational on the first Saturday in April.