by Tom Utescher
With the Penn Relays behind them, area runners returned to their dual meet routine last week, and on Wednesday afternoon host Springside Chestnut Hill Academy edged visiting Germantown Academy, 62-60. Focused on fine-tuning their efforts for the upcoming championship meets later in the month, neither team pulled out all the stops, keeping strong performers out of some of their usual events.
Down at the aforementioned Penn Relays, Penn Charter won the Inter-Ac League edition of the 4 x 400 meter relay, with the quartet of (in race order) Sean Joseph, Brennan Mellor, Corey Kelley, Daryl Worley finishing up in three minutes, 25.60 seconds, almost two full seconds ahead of runner-up Haverford School.
As expected, SCH senior Dustin Wilson excelled in his individual distance outing, coming into the 3000 meter championship race seeded 12th, but finishing second in 8:30.18. The winner was a Virginia runner, Thomas Madden (8:25.54), whom Wilson had raced, and beaten, before.
“I finished ahead of him at Penn Relays last year, but that was a pretty slow race overall,” the Columbia-bound Wilson said. “He has a faster PR in the 5K than I do, so I knew he was under-seeded at 17th [for Penn this year], just as I felt I was under-seeded at 12th.”
The SCH star had faced other runners in the pack, as well.
“Everyone expects Penn Relays to be a fast race because it’s so competitive,” he pointed out, “but for the last couple years the winner has never been faster than 8:22, and the winners have always won on a kick [at the end].”
The race went out slowly, then picked up pace in the middle a little more than Wilson expected. Still, he was sitting third behind Madden and Delaware runner Sam Parsons with a little over a lap to go. He was able to catch Parsons, but not the Virginian.
Even in local races where he’s not facing strong competition, Wilson has been working on his finishing kick, because he knows it’s a vital skill for a distance runner in college.
Referring to the expansive Paul Short cross country meet held at Lehigh University each fall, he remarked, “The last couple years I’d kick to try get away from the two or three guys who were on me with half-a-mile to go. Next year [in the college race] it’ll be like, you’re in 100th place, and if you kick the last 800 well then you can go all the way up to 40th. If you run a poor last 800, you could be back at 150th.”
Wilson was continuing to experiment with his kick at last Wednesday’s dual meet, although it wasn’t long before he was running alone. He won the 1600 meters by 38 seconds, in 4:23.8. Overall, GA did well in the distance events, sweeping the top three spots in the 800 thanks to the Ritz brothers, Ben (first in 2:02.1) and Sam, and Max Huang-Hobbs. In addition, Joe DiBello and Devin Cody went one-two in the 3200, with DiBello winning in 10:58.8.
When it came to events where an athlete needs to go airborne, sophomore Frank Jackson came through for host SCH, placing first in the long jump (19’8.5”), triple jump (38’5”), and 110 meter high hurdles (15.9 seconds). The Blue Devils also did well in the 300 intermediate hurdles, where senior Dan Trulear won (41.8) and junior Jamil Poole was runner-up.
The Patriots had their own three-event ace in junior Earl Edwards, who sprinted to victory in the 100 (11.3) and 200 (23.7) dash, and cleared a 5’6” bar to win the high jump. SCH answered with a win in the 400 meters, where junior Mac Concannon made the circuit in 53.8 seconds.
GA junior Jared Whitman pole-vaulted 12 feet even to win that event, but a 9’1” effort by Devils senior Terrence Jones netted him second place, giving his team some valuable points in this close meet.
SCH got a big boost in the shot put, where a trio of seniors secured the top three spots. Chris Howard’s heave of 44’7” won it, and James Robinson and Tyler Hightower each produced 38-foot throws.
As usual for Inter-Ac meets, the affair concluded with the 4 x 400 meter relay. The Patriot quartet of Dan Furman, Nelson Floyd, Nick Meloro, and Huang-Hobbs finished first in 3:35.4, and the Blue Devils were second in 3:41.4 with Concannon, Poole, Trulear, and Graham Allen.