by Tom Utescher
As the foursomes assembled last Saturday afternoon for the 4 x 400 meter relay races that always make up the final act at the annual Inter-Ac League track and field championships, the boys’ team champion had already been determined, but the girls’ title was still very much in play.
In the boys’ meet, which is the oldest scholastic league event in the United States, Penn Charter was holding a healthy 78-62 advantage in the team scoring over defending champ Malvern Prep before the final race began. With only a 6-0 point swing possible in the relay, the Quakers could no longer be caught, and as it happened, they won the race easily and established a new meet record in the process. PC finished with 84 points to the 63 compiled by the Malvern Friars, who placed fifth in the 4 x 400.
Before the girls’ last race began, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy was leading 2012 league runner-up Episcopal Academy by just a single point.
The SCH Blue Devils, third at the championships last year, could not maintain their slim advantage, finishing second in the final event while Episcopal won both the race and the meet, 125-124.
A strong third-place showing was made by the girls of meet host Germantown Academy, which scored 110 points to easily outpace number four Penn Charter, with 44. Agnes Irwin was fifth with 30 points, followed by two-time defending champ Academy of Notre Dame (26 points), and Baldwin School (three points). There were actually more first-place finishes for both SCH (six) and GA (five) than for Episcopal (four), but the Churchwomen chipped away at the others with their team depth, turning in seven second or third-place performances.
None of the other boys’ teams came close to PC and Malvern. GA was third in the final standings with 29 points, nipping Haverford School, which scored 26. The fifth and sixth-place teams were also separated by just a few points, as Episcopal (12) edged out Springside Chestnut Hill (10).
At the conclusion of this 127th running of the boys’ championships, the George Greenwood Award, bestowed upon the athlete scoring the most points for his team, was presented to Penn Charter senior Daryl Worley. Worley, who has signed with the football team at the University of West Virginia, won all three sprints, the 100, 200, and 400 meters.
His time in the 100 meters was 0.27 seconds off of the meet record, and in the 200, the difference was just 0.26 seconds. Worley capped off his day by anchoring the Quakers’ 4 x 400, whose time of three minutes, 24.32 seconds did set a new Inter-Ac record, surpassing the mark of 3:25.26 established by a Malvern foursome in 2009.
The other meet standard that went by the boards was in the 800 meter run, where GA sophomore Sam Ritz, unchallenged, turned in a time of 4:15.95 to overshadow the figure of 4:18.17 produced by SCH’s Dustin Wilson on the same track one year earlier.
Last weekend the Inter-Ac girls were officially celebrating the 10th anniversary of their championship meet. Their equivalent of the Greenwood Award, named in honor of longtime GA coach Judy Krouse (who was instrumental in founding the league meet for the girls), was presented to SCH freshman phenom Brooklynn Broadwater. She rolled up a total of 40 points by winning four events, the most an individual athlete is allowed to enter.
Broadwater won the 200 and 400 meter footraces, and even more impressive were her victories in the 100 and 300 hurdles, since she first began training as a hurdler less than two months earlier. In the latter event her time of 44 seconds flat broke the one-year old Inter-Ac record of 45.19, and in the 100 hurdles her time was just four one-hundredths of a second shy of the existing mark.
The other Girls Inter-Ac record to fall was also due to a freshman, GA’s Paige Kupsky. With no one to push her late in the 3200 meter race, Kupsky still ground out an 11:29.43 effort, bettering the previous meet best of 11:34.48 set by the 2012 winner.
In the boys’ competition, Penn Charter was trying to loosen Malvern’s five-year stranglehold on the Inter-Ac championship. Just before the Friars’ recent streak started, the Quakers won the title in 2007, and then PC finished as runner-up in 2008, 2011 and 2012 (66-70). SCH, then Chestnut Hill Academy, placed second in 2009 (when Malvern won the final relay to prevail 62-61), and the Blue Devils were runner-up again in 2010.
The five field events are always first on the agenda at the meet, and here every squad is looking to build up a head of steam.
“Malvern is strong in the field events, particularly in the jumps,” pointed out longtime Charter head coach Steve Bonnie. “We got a couple of breaks that helped us a little bit.”
Bonnie was pleased to see junior Abdul-Kareem Muhammad win the triple jump, and while Malvern took first in both the long jump and the high jump, in the latter contest PC received second and third place from senior Austin Williams and Muhammad.
Charter senior Mike McGlinckey, who is headed to Notre Dame to play football, repeated as shot put champ, and overall, the Quakers came away from the field event stations with a 26-20 advantage over Malvern. Haverford was third in this area, with 16 points, and Germantown Academy’s 11 points stemmed mostly from a one-two finish in the pole vault by junior Matt Miller and senior Jared Whitman.
With distance running ace Dustin Wilson now gone, Springside Chestnut Hill has struggled all the way around this year. The highlights for the Blue Devils last Saturday were a third-place finish in the long jump by junior Frank Jackson, and a second-place showing in the 300 hurdles by senior Jamil Poole.
As the focus shifted from field events to the running realm, Penn Charter did not cull as many points from the two hurdling races as Coach Bonnie had hoped for, and Malvern won both of them. In the end though, PC would out-point the Friars on the track, 58-43.
PC’s Worley wrapped up a remarkable career in the three sprinting events, winning the 100, 200, and 400 meter races for the third year in a row. In the longest footrace, the 3200, Columbia-bound GA senior Ben Ritz (older brother of Sam) would’ve been the clear favorite, but he was sidelined with a stress fracture in his left foot. Up-and-coming distance star Ben Szuhaj, a sophomore, won that event for Charter.
Never one to count his chickens before they make their way entirely out of the eggshell, Quakers coach Bonnie said, “I’m never really feeling good until the meet is over, but I would say I was feeling decent after the 200 [with two events to go], because Malvern didn’t get as many points there as I was worried about. Then in the 3200, I knew we were loaded and we would be okay.”
In that eight-lap race, the victorious Szuhaj was backed up by junior Scott Mason, who came in third, and senior David Kotch, who finished fifth. PC had the championship won before the 4 x 400 got underway, and with juniors James Biggs-Frazier, Charlie Hoyt, and Tre Williams running ahead of anchorman Worley, Bonnie wasn’t worried about that one, anyway.
As he noted, “Once you get the stick to Daryl in any kind of reasonable position, it’s pretty much over.”
The Quakers tacked an exclamation point on their title triumph with a record-setting time in the relay, coming in 5.29 seconds ahead of number two Haverford School.
As the male and female runners circled the track throughout the afternoon, a non-uniformed GA student was covering more distance than they were. The Patriots’ faithful and amazingly efficient team manager, senior Nina Judd, was checking in contestants for the various events and was continually looping between the timing stand and the officials’ and awards tent, conveying results and instructions.
Before the final relay of the meet rolled around for the girls, Springside Chestnut Hill already had used up the eligibility of some of its top runners in the individual events. It was a double-edged sword, because their solo efforts were what got the Blue Devils so close to the title to begin with.
In addition to Broadwater’s accomplishments, SCH got a terrific performance from her ninth-grade classmate, Julia Reeves. She won both the 100 meters and the triple jump, and placed second in the 200 and the long jump. Reeves’ efforts helped the Devils edge Episcopal in the field events, 30 points to 29, but this portion of the meet also brought to light what would be a fatal flaw for SCH.
The school’s recent renovations of its track facility have not included the installation of a pole vault pit. With no Blue Devils performing at all in this category, there was a 14-point swing in favor of Episcopal, which had Silicia Lomax win the competition while a teammate came in fourth.
Penn Charter was also at its most productive here, with freshman Willow Tierno and senior Michelle Gross placing second and third, respectively. The Quakers gleaned half of their team point total from the pole vault and from the shot put, where senior Ashleigh Brown placed second with a heave six inches shy of the winning toss by EA’s Gianna Pileggi.
All that being said, the real force here was Germantown Academy. The Patriots pulled 54 points from these five disciplines, and 56 from twice as many events on the track.
Leading the way for GA were the McCloskey sisters, junior Megan and senior Kiernan (a Lehigh University basketball signee). Megan finished one inch off of her 2012 Inter-Ac record high jump of 5’9”, but still won handily while big sis was second. The younger sibling also won the long jump and was second in the triple jump, and Kiernan was third in both the long and the triple. Junior Margaret Anne Hubbell placed third in the shot put for the Pats.
As the contests on the track began, it was clear that Springside Chestnut Hill’s workhorse would be Broadwater, running in four individual races.
“I’d been training to do all these events in one day, and back-to-back, too,” she explained. “I PR’ed in my hurdles, and I almost did a PR in my 400.”
At the longer distances, GA not only got the record-setting effort from Kupsky in the 3200, but also saw junior Kerry Lawlor strike gold in both the 800 and 1600. Kupsky snagged the silver medal for the Patriots in the 1600, and in both the 1600 and 3200 Penn Charter placed third thanks to senior Catie Skinner.
The last race of the day for SCH’s Broadwater was the 200 meters, which she won while fighting through bizarre weather conditions along with her teammate Reeves, who placed second.
Credence Clearwater Revival’s John Fogarty asked in song: “Have you ever seen the rain, comin’ down, sunny day?” They did last Saturday at GA.
On the opposite side of the track from the finish line, the girls’ 200 got underway on a dry track, but just seconds later, a curtain of heavy rain was seen sweeping across adjacent playing fields from the west. As the runners approached the turn the downpour broke across the track, and dozens of athletes idling in the infield ran across the home straight, seeking shelter under the bleachers.
Meet officials screamed at the fleeing throng not to interfere with the runners rounding the bend, and fortunately the exodus ceased in time, allowing Broadwater to capture her fourth gold medal of the meet.
This spring, the ninth-grade speedster ran in many PIAA-sanctioned meets against top public school athletes, and she was asked how she pushed herself to the same level when the competition wasn’t as daunting.
She explained “I just told myself to try and run as hard as I can like I was at those public school meets, and I sort of pretended like all those girls were here running against me.”
After the squall during the girls’ 200 final the track dried out almost immediately, although subsequently there were a few sprinkles even while the sun shone brightly.
Outscoring Episcopal 20-10 in the 200, the Blue Devils now had a 112-107 lead in the team scoring with two races to go. The Churchwomen cut the gap to one point overall (116-115) in the 3200 meters, where EA sophomore Katherine Hong was the runner-up to GA’s Kupsky.
Earlier in the day, Episcopal had won the 4 x 100 meter relay while SCH finished third, and now the Churchwomen would clinch the league title in the final race of the 2013 championships, the 4 x 400. Their 10 first-place points would allow them to squeak by the Blue Devils, who picked up eight points for their second-place showing.
EA (sophomore Leighann Adelizzi, junior Brittany Belo, senior Keri Boyce and senior Mikaela Kilmer) opened up a wide lead over the first two legs of the race and SCH, running second, couldn’t close the gap. Their times were 4:03.80, and 4:13.15. Notre Dame was a close third to the Devils in 4:14.06.
For the present, Springside Chestnut Hill fans may be a little disappointed, but the future of their franchise looks dazzling. The Blue Devils are graduating just two senior scorers in Maddi Hinchey (third in the high jump, fourth in the 800, 4 x 400 relay member) and Drew Davis (third in the 400, 4 x 400 relay member), and there are no juniors at all on the roster.
In the 13 individual events at last weekend’s meet (the two relays excluded), Episcopal received 63 of 105 points from juniors and seniors, and SCH got 94 of 110 from freshmen and sophomores.
100 meters – PC Daryl Worley 10.87
200 meters – PC Daryl Worley 22.00
400 meters – PC Daryl Worley 49.37
800 meters – HS Lucas Elek 1:56.55
1600 meters – GA Sam Ritz 4:15.95
3200 meters – PC Ben Szuhaj 9:40.98
110 meter hurdles – MP Eric Purnell 15.36
300 meter hurdles – MP Eric Purnell 39.58
high jump – MP Andy Pancoast 6’6”
long jump – MP Eric Purnell 21’8.5”
pole vault – GA Matt Miller 13’6”
shot put - PC Mike McGlinchey 51’3”
triple jump – PC Abdul-Kareem Muhammad 43’9”
4 x 400 relay – PC 3:24.32
100 meters – SCH Julia Reeves 12.65
200 meters – SCH Brooklynn Broadwater 25.44
400 meters – SCH Brooklynn Broadwater 56.53
800 meters – GA Kerry Lawlor 2:20.47
1600 meters – GA Kerry Lawlor 5:11.37
3200 meters – GA Paige Kupsky 11:29.43
100 meter hurdles – SCH Brooklynn Broadwater 15.18
300 meter hurdles – SCH Brooklynn Broadwater 44.00
high jump – GA Megan McCloskey 5’8”
long jump – GA Megan McCloskey 17’3.75”
pole vault – EA Silicia Lomax 8’3”
shot put – EA Gianna Pileggi 28’6”
triple jump – SCH Julia Reeves 35’0.75”
4 x 100 relay – EA 50.14
4 x 400 relay – EA 4:03.80
[complete results appear on the PA Milesplit website]