PC, GA, SCH runners engage on Inter-Ac's opening day

by Tom Utescher
Posted 11/3/20

The Inter-Ac League officially launched its fall athletic season last Saturday, and among the initial contests was a cross country tri-meet involving Germantown Academy, Penn Charter, and Springside …

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PC, GA, SCH runners engage on Inter-Ac's opening day

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The Inter-Ac League officially launched its fall athletic season last Saturday, and among the initial contests was a cross country tri-meet involving Germantown Academy, Penn Charter, and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. GA hosted the race, since City of Philadelphia restrictions prohibit the other two schools from holding meets on campus.

The SCH Blue Devils had a pair of freshmen finish first and second, but defending league champ Penn Charter placed all of its five scorers among the top 11 to put up a winning total of 31 points. The GA Patriots, which had three finishers among the first nine, scored 47 points to tie SCH, and the Pats earned second place according to the sixth-woman tiebreaker.

SCH freshman Ella Woehlcke tested the rest of the field early in the race and soon was running alone. She won in 18 minutes, 48 seconds, and in second place was another Blue Devils ninth-grader, Veronica Gula (19:45). Woehlcke has transitioned to the upper school varsity this year from the SCH middle school, while Gula is a new arrival who formerly attended GA.

The other runner in the meet to slip under the 20-minute mark was Penn Charter junior Olivia Montini, who took third place in 19:58. She finished eighth overall at the 2019 Inter-Ac championships.

At last year's league meet, current Quakers senior Emma Zwall was the runner-up, after having won the Inter-Ac championship in 2017 and 2018. The 2019 champion, Issy Goldstein, graduated from Germantown Academy last spring. Zwall was fourth at last Saturday's tri-meet with a time of 20:17. Both she and the young Woehlcke have 5k PR's of just over 18 minutes.

Penn Charter's position in the team scoring grew even stronger when a third Quaker completed the top five; junior Elena Coupas clocked in at 20:36, running three-and-a-half seconds faster than she did at the 2019 Inter-Ac's.

The next two ladies to cross the line, both from host GA, were junior Julie Gonzalez (sixth; 20:44) and sophomore Olivia Jappe (seventh; 20:47). At last fall's Inter-Ac race, Jappe was GA's second runner and finished fifth overall.

Charter locked up the victory last Saturday by securing eighth place thanks to junior Julia Dolce (21:01) and by taking 11th place courtesy of junior Lane Murray (21:45), who's been playing varsity lacrosse for the Quakers since she was in eighth grade.

In between these two came Patriots junior Olivia Merrill in ninth place (21:06) and SCH sophomore Grace Hannigan in 10th (21:16). Hannigan was the number one runner for Springside Chestnut Hill last fall, coming in 14th overall at the championships. No other Blue Devil would place among the top 30, though, and SCH end up sixth out of seven schools in the 2019 team scoring. Obviously, prospects have improved with the addition of this year's freshman duo.

The Academy of Notre Dame should also be a major player in Inter-Ac cross country this season. In 2019, the Irish were second at the league meet with 47 team points, not far behind champion Penn Charter (41) and ahead of third-place GA (56). Notre Dame only graduated one of its five scorers, and also has its number six runner back for 2020. In another Inter-Ac tri-meet last Saturday on the Main Line, the Irish thrashed Episcopal Academy and Agnes Irwin.

After Murray completed PC's team score in the meet at GA, the Patriots themselves finalized their team total with 12th and 13th-place showings from sophomore Kayla D'Eletto (22:00) and freshman Maggie Morrisey. Timed to tenths of a second at 22:47.3, Morrisey managed to beat out a fellow ninth-grader, PC's Grace Neuwirth, whose time was 22:47.6 (14th place).

By fighting off her Quaker rival at the finish line, Morrisey put the Patriots in a position to tie SCH in the team score and eventually place ahead of the Blue Devils on the tiebreaker.

Springside Chestnut Hill's fourth-place runner, junior Sally Thistle, completed the course in 15th in 22:51, and after her, in 23:24, came Germantown freshman Lauren Perry. Becoming the Patriots' sixth finisher in 16th place overall, she would allow GA to beat SCH on the tiebreaker.

The Blue Devils' official team score of 47 was completed by their number five, senior Juniper Moscow, who came across in 25:37 for 20th place overall and 19th in the scoring. SCH's sixth runner was sophomore Maggie Peguero (20th in the scoring) with a time of 26:51.

These two Springside Chestnut Hill runners had their places bumped up in the scoring when a pair of GA athletes finished ahead of them. Sophomore Carolyn Connolly was 18th in 23:57, and just after her in the real-time order came Germantown's eighth finisher, freshman Basha Harrington (24:29).

Veronica Lentz, a Penn Charter sophomore, had placed 17th in 23:36. For all the young athletes, in particular, the race provided a good lesson in team running and meet scoring. 

The other finishers on Saturday were PC sophomore Alex Glomb (27:15), GA seniors Mae Nagel (28:28) and Evangeline Roller (28:31), SCH senior Skai Williams (29:39) and GA sophomore Hannah Manusov (31:50).

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