by Tom Utescher
Germantown Friends School extended a prodigious league winning streak last Tuesday afternoon with a convincing boys’ cross country victory in a double dual meet at Belmont Plateau in Fairmount Park.
Belmont is the home course for the Tigers, who defeated visiting George School, 19-38, and Moorestown Friends, 17-40. That made for 55 straight Friends Schools League dual-meet victories for GFS, which has not lost in one of these events since the 2004 season.
Lyle Wistar, a junior who has emerged as the lead runner for Germantown this fall, noted that the twin wins were to be followed closely by the annual Friends Schools League Championships, where the Tigers will be going for their 10th consecutive title.
Following the George/Moorestown race he remarked, “We have that dual meet streak, so we wanted to do what we needed to win today. At the same time, we didn’t want to burn ourselves out because we have our league championships in a week.”
Wistar’s brother Ross, now a college sophomore running at New York University, was a member of the 2009 GFS team which made it all the way to the Nike Cross Country Nationals in Oregon and finished 21st in the U.S. After that, the Tigers lost two strong senior classes in a row.
“We graduated a lot of seniors last year, so the team may not be as good as it’s been historically, but we’re holding our own,” the younger Wistar said.
At last week’s FSL dual meet his winning time of 19 minutes and four seconds was shared by senior teammate Nick Dye, who was officially the second-place finisher. Just one tick behind was senior Christian Brady, and with the top three places in the bag the Tigers already had the upper hand against its rivals.
George School’s Alex Atwater (19:06) and Zander Giufride (19:12) placed fourth and fifth respectively. The first Moorestown finisher was Ted Barrett, sixth in 19:16, but then GFS locked up the meet victory over both the Cougars and the Foxes as juniors Paul Maxson (seventh) and Henry Shah (eighth) crossed the line together at 19:28.
The other Tigers in the top 20 formed a five-man cadre that captured places 14 through 18. Making up this ensemble were (in order) senior Raff Gans-Pfister (20:46), sophomore Oliver Fox (20:46), junior Ben Stassen (20:46), sophomore James Finney (20:52), and senior Kyle Musto (21:27).
“I would like to have seen a little more out of the front, but we’re getting there,” said GFS coach Rob Hewitt after Tuesday’s event. “These guys used to be the pieces that fit around the guys doing the work, and now they’re the ones doing the work. There’s a learning curve, but they’re growing.”
The Tigers will be back at Belmont for both the FSL championships this week and the Pa. Independent Schools Championship on October 29.
“We were working on some things today that have to do with how we’re going to run States,” Hewitt said. “The number one thing on our mind is October 29, but we also value our league championships and we’re not taking that lightly.”