SCH senior Dustin Wilson (left) was challenged by junior Ben Ritz of Germantown Academy in the 1600 meters last Saturday, and it spurred Wilson on to win in a time of four minutes, 18.17 seconds, a new Inter-Ac League meet record. Later, Wilson won easily in his final Inter-Ac race, the 3200. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

As the 126th Inter-Academic League track and field championships unfolded last Saturday, Penn Charter was hoping that it would still be within striking distance of defending champ Malvern Prep going into the final event, the 4 x 400 meter relay. But before the Quakers’ Penn Relays champion quartet could line up on the track, Malvern had nudged its lead up out of reach, with 68 points to PC’s 60.

Charter won the final race, as expected, netting six points to finish with 66, but the Friars only needed a fourth-place showing to come away with 70 points in the standings. The Quakers, who were also the runner-up team in 2011, trailed Malvern 39-21 when the field events were completed at midday, and on the track PC was not able to close the gap as much as it hoped.

Haverford School’s hurdlers and middle-distance men helped the Fords finish third with 39 points, and several strong efforts in the longer footraces were the foundation for a fourth-place performance for Germantown Academy (24 points), the host for the 2012 championships.

Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, third at the 2011 meet, faded to fifth with 21 points this time around, despite victories in the 1600 and 3200 meters by senior superstar Dustin Wilson. The Episcopal Academy girls did very well at the championships, but the EA boys almost disappeared from the radar screen, landing in sixth place with four points.

In the morning, Malvern made hay in the field events, led by senior Tom Pitt, who would win the league’s George Greenwood Award for the highest individual point total at the championships. He won the high jump, long jump, and triple jump and later was third in the 100 meter dash. The only other team to reach double digits in the five field contests was PC (GA garnered six of its seven points via sophomore Matt Miller’s victory in the pole vault). Charter junior Mike McGlinchey won the shot put, and overall the Quakers did a little better than expected in some events, and a bit worse in others.

“It didn’t go exactly as I thought, but things sort of evened out and we were close to what I expected in the field portion,” said Penn Charter’s veteran coach, Steve Bonnie.

SCH, lacking in depth compared to past years, came away with five points from the field events, and a dozen of the remaining 16 points the Blue Devils scored came from Wilson’s wins in the two longest footraces.

“My goal was just to win my two events,” he said. “Even though we didn’t have the best shot at winning the meet, we weren’t going to come out here and just joke around. We wanted to compete, see what we could do, and get points for the team – that was really our objective.”

In his final race in an Inter-Ac meet, the 3200, Wilson won by a half-a-minute. Earlier, in the 1600, he was happy to have a challenge from GA junior Ben Ritz, who was still on Wilson’s shoulder at the end of the back straight on the final lap. The Columbia-bound senior pulled away after that to set a new meet record of four minutes, 18.17 seconds.

Penn Charter was trying to chip away at Malvern’s lead, but the Quakers didn’t score quite as well as anticipated in the hurdles and in the 400.

“It was mainly a number of little things up until the 800, and I don’t know what happened there,” related the Quakers’ Bonnie. “The whole race was out-of-whack.”

From the start, officials and coaches commented on the unusually slow pace in that two-lap contest. Haverford’s Lucas Elek picked up speed during the second loop and was ahead by more than five meters heading down the home straight, but GA junior Max Haung-Hobbs treated Patriot fans to a gutsy finishing sprint and edged Elek at the line, 2:01.43 to 2:01.46. Charter, which had three of the five fastest times in qualifying, wound up with only three third-place points in the final, courtesy of sophomore Charlie Hoyt.

Malvern took fourth and fifth to also earn three meet points, and instead of making a significant dent in the Friars’ lead, PC remained 15 points back, 62-47. The Quakers’ talented junior sprinter, Daryl Worley, had already won the 100 and 400 meter races, and now he turned another first-place performance in the 200. However, Malvern runners came in second and fourth to match PC’s six points.

In the second-to-last event, the 3200, Charter junior David Kotch and freshman Ben Szuhaj each ran a personal best to take second and third place, respectively. The Friars didn’t score here, but they were still up 68-60, an insurmountable advantage with only the 4 x 400 remaining.

In the relay, PC won in 3:26.14 with Worley, junior classmates Sean Joseph and Brennan Mellor, and sophomore Corey Kelley, while Haverford was runner-up and SCH ran third in 3:35.10, with senior Dan Trulear, juniors Mac Concannon and Jamil Poole, and sophomore Graham Allen.

Despite a modest point total and a fifth-place finish, there were some bright spots for Springside Chestnut Hill, aside from the expected excellence of Wilson. There were PR’s from Trulear and Poole in the 300 hurdles, and in the 110 hurdles from Poole and sophomore Frank Jackson, who finished fifth in the long jump. Concannon had a PR in the 400, and another junior, Drew Dowds, had a new personal best in the high jump, placing fourth.

“The numbers on our team were down this year, and it looks like that will be the case next year, as well,” said Paul Hines, the Blue Devils’ longtime coach. “We have to do some work at school and get more kids out for the team. We need to rebuild the kind of base we had for a number of years, which is to have guys hurdling and jumping, and scoring in multiple events.”

Winners & Area Scorers

100 meters

1. PC Daryl Worley 11.21

4. PC James Biggs-Frazier 11.58

6. GA Earl Edwards 11.64

200 meters

1. PC Daryl Worley 22.27

5. GA Earl Edwards 23.10

400 meters

1. PC Daryl Worley 49.42

4. PC Brennan Mellor 51.10

6. PC Sean Joseph 51.87

800 meters

1. GA Max Huang-Hobbs 2:01.43

3. PC Charlie Hoyt 2:02.60

1600 meters

1. SCH Dustin Wilson 4:18.17

2. GA Ben Ritz 4:19.66

3. GA Sam Ritz 4:24.55

4. GA Nick Meloro 4:32.01

5. PC Tre Williams 4:34.29

3200 meters

1. SCH Dustin Wilson 9:36.46

2. PC David Kotch 10:06.02

3. PC Ben Szuhaj 10:06.89

5. GA Sam Ritz 10:22.52

6. PC Scott Mason 10:32.85

110 high hurdles

1. HS Geoff Bocobo 15.28

3. PC Austin Williams 15.54

6. SCH Frank Jackson 16.13

300 intermediate hurdles

1. MP Eric Purnell 39.45

3. PC Josh Cannon 40.78

5. SCH Dan Trulear 41.49

6. PC Austin Williams 42.02

High jump

1. MP Tom Pitt 6’6”

3. PC Austin Williams 6’1”

4. SCH Drew Dowds 5’11”

Long Jump

1. MP Tom Pitt 22’3.25”

3. PC Alex Palladino 20’9.5”

4. PC David Miller 20’5.5”

5. SCH Frank Jackson 19’11.25”

Pole vault

1. GA Matt Miller 12’0”

2. (tie) PC Bobby Wurtz 11’0”

2. (tie) PC Steve Miller 11’0”

Shot put

1. PC Mike McGlinchey 51’2”

4. SCH Chris Howard 45’5”

5. GA Keith Corliss 44’5.5”

Triple Jump

1. MP Tom Pitt 42’2.5”

5. PC Ryan Burnett 40’8.75”