by Tom Utescher
The girls cross country team at Germantown Friends completed a sweep of their regular-season dual meets last Tuesday afternoon. On their home course at Belmont Plateau, the Tigers turned back a pair of Friends Schools League rivals in a double dual meet, rolling up a score of 15-50 against both George School and Moorestown Friends.
Having the run the table in the FSL as well as defeating Germantown Academy from the Girls’ Inter-Ac League, GFS is poised to defend its league title in the championship meet this week, and then the team will take a shot at a state crown in the Pa. Independent Schools Championship on October 29.
Running in the tougher of the two varsity races at the massive Paul Short Invitational back on September 30, the Tigers placed 12th, one spot ahead of defending Pa. Indy champ Academy of Notre Dame. The two squads put up the same score, but Germantown took the higher place thanks to the sixth-man tiebreaker.
“The girls are really strong right now and I think everything’s in place,” said GFS mentor Rob Hewitt. “They’re ready to roll.”
The longtime coach for the boys’ cross country team at the school, Hewitt also took charge of the girls program this fall. Two talented distance runners from the Tigers’ track team, senior Carey Celata and junior Eliza Lukens-Day, decided to try cross country for the first time.
Mount Airy native Celata, a squash player ranked in the top 20 in the country in the Under-19 class, was the top finisher for the Tigers at two major cross country meets this fall, the Briarwood and Paul Short invitationals. Her older sister, Katharine, ran both track and cross country at Germantown.
“I want to play squash in college, so I decided to try cross country before I didn’t have the chance anymore,” she explained. “Obviously the training is very different, but the conditioning in cross country is helpful in squash. It helps in long matches and in tournaments; it gives me an advantage over girls who don’t run as much.”
Referring to the converts from track, Hewitt said, “It’s a different animal to go out and race 5000 meters versus one mile on the track. The girls are growing up quick in this sport, though. They really get what it’s about.”
Last Tuesday Celata ran the course alongside senior classmate Tess Doggett, who placed first in 22 minutes, 26 seconds, while Celata was assigned second place with the same time. Next across the line, at 23:31, was a quintet of Tigers consisting of sophomore Alison Love, freshman Arielle Frank, Lukens-Day, junior Isabel Goldstein, and senior Kristen Kelly. Kelly and Doggett are the co-captains for the 2011 squad.
“There are groups that we tend to run in; it’s not planned out all the time.” Celata said. “Today was a chance for us to work on our confidence by doing a strong race, but not go all-out.”
In one of her first races at Belmont, the senior ran the five-kilometer course in 20:35 at the Briarwood meet.
“The hills on the course are tough, but it’s fun to do it,” she commented.
In the recent dual meet, junior Lucy Guida and sophomore Cece Dye placed 10th and 11th, respectively, with a mutual time of 25:24, while freshman Zoe Albano-Oritt arrived in 20th place. This week at their league championship meet, the Tigers are favored to capture their tenth consecutive title in the FSL.