Freshman Bridget Lipp is one of the talented young runners that helped Springside Chestnut Hill Academy finish third behind much larger teams at the Girls Inter-Ac track championships last weekend. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

 Freshman Bridget Lipp is one of the talented young runners that helped Springside Chestnut Hill Academy finish third behind much larger teams at the Girls Inter-Ac track championships last weekend. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

The battle for the 2012 Girls Inter-Ac League track and field championship came down to a pair of Main Line schools last Saturday, with the Academy of Notre Dame successfully defending its 2011 team title by outscoring Episcopal Academy, 125-115.

With only 15 girls on its roster, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy stayed in the hunt most of the day, as its young sprinters and jumpers, along with a rising distance star, piled up 97 points for the third-place Lions. Field events were the forte of meet host Germantown Academy, which finished fourth with 71 points, while Penn Charter, rebuilding after winning the meet in 2010 and coming in second last year, wound up fifth with 31 points.

Agnes Irwin was sixth with 26 points and Baldwin School, represented by just six athletes, did not score.

Sophomore speedster Katelyn Jackson of Springside Chestnut Hill won the 100 and 200 meter dash and was third in the 100 high hurdles, netting 26 points in those three events while also anchoring the Lions’ victorious 4 x 100 meter relay team. Freshman Jamie Costarino came in second in both the 1600 and 3200 meters, and the Lions drew upon the middle school ranks to receive a great effort from eighth-grader Julia Reeves, who won the triple jump, placed third in the long jump, and participated in the 4 x 400 relay.

“The whole thing with our team is that it’s a group of real young kids who are learning the ropes,” noted SCH coach Bob Shoudt. “There’s one senior on the team, a few juniors and sophomores, and a bunch of freshmen.

“And of course our eighth-grader [Reeves] had a real good day today,” he continued. “The girls came ready to compete and they competed well. They kept their composure, which is good, and I think that the future looks very bright for them.”

One of the most impressive performances of the day occurred early in the program of events, as GA sophomore Megan McCloskey set a personal record (PR) of 5’9” to defend her league title in the high jump. Her closest competitor, with a leap of five feet even, was her sister Kiernan, a junior best known for her basketball talents.

Since she came to GA as a freshman, there’s really been no one in the area to challenge the younger McCloskey in the high jump pit.

“I don’t think about who the competition is; I know personally what I need to do and I set goals for myself for the meet,” she explained. “Today the weather was perfect to go for my top mark and it worked out.”

She won the event at the 2011 Inter-Ac meet with a leap of 5’8”, and this past winter she soared 5’8.25” in indoors competition.

Training with her mother, Mimi, and occasionally with former U.S. National Team member Mike Pascuzzo, McCloskey said, “The focus has mostly been on my approach this year, not so much on the over-the-bar aspect. I’ve been working to make my last three steps really fast. Today I got my steps down and it all came together.”

With McCloskey placing second in the long jump and sister Kiernan second in the triple jump, the Patriots emerged from the field events with 45 points, more than half of their day’s total and more than Notre Dame (29) or Episcopal (28).

SCH freshman Olivia Byron came in right behind the McCloskey sisters to finish third in the high jump, and with the young Reeves making her mark the Lions came away from the jumping and throwing sectors with 25 points. Penn Charter senior Saagarika Thanvi placed second in the shot put to lead three Quaker scorers in that event, and her classmate Marisa Shepard won the pole vault. At the end of the field events, PC had accumulated 25 of its total of 31 points for the day.

Notre Dame had not scored in the pole vault, but that was the only event at the meet where the Irish came up empty. Their top distance runner, Maria Seykora, defended her three 2011 Inter-Ac championships in the 800, 1600, and 3200 meters, setting new meet records in the 1600 (4:57.30) and the 3200 (11:34.48). Also part of Notre Dame’s winning 4 x 400 relay combo, the Princeton-bound harrier was named the outstanding athlete of the meet by a vote of the league coaches.

While Seykora quickly built unassailable leads in the 1600 and 3200, SCH’s Costarino ran most of both races with a small group of rivals that included PC junior Catie Skinner and a pair of seniors, Episcopal’s Kristen Greenwood and Notre Dame’s Caroline Powers. In the late stages of each contest the young Lion took over sole control of second place, winning the 1600 by three seconds and the 3200 by six. Skinner was fifth in both events.

The Penn Charter program is not used to being in rebuilding mode, but that’s where the Quakers have been this spring.

“We graduated a lot from last year, so I was looking to come in here today and just get experience for our young team,” commented PC mentor Liz Flemming. “Our shot-putters have been good all year and they did well today, and we had some new girls in the triple jump who scored. Our 4 x 400 relay didn’t place high but they took three seconds off their time.”

Nevertheless, the coach remarked, “It’s been a hard year. Penn Charter’s been first or second in the league for a long time, so fighting for fifth is a new position for us. It’s been a learning experience for both me and the girls.”

In the 100 and the 200, SCH’s Jackson won out over another speedy sophomore, Notre Dame’s Moira Putsch, while Lions freshman Bridget Lipp finished third in each race. In the 4 x 100, Jackson was preceded by Reeves, senior Jamie McGinn, and her younger sister Kyra Jackson, a freshman. The elder sibling had to make up some ground on her concluding leg to eke out a win over Putsch, who was the Notre Dame anchor.

Going into the 4 x 400 relay that wrapped up the meet, the point totals were such that neither third-place SCH nor number four GA could move up or down in the final rankings. Below them, Penn Charter and Agnes Irwin were still close, but neither of them really had the horses in the four-by-four to alter their respective fates.

The EA Churchwomen could have captured the championship only if they won the relay and Notre Dame finished last out of the six entries. That didn’t happen, but after Seykora gave the Irish a strong lead-off leg, Episcopal climbed back in it and contributed to an exciting finish. Notre Dame won in 4:05.55, with Episcopal a fraction of a second behind in 4:05.76.

Winners & Area Scorers

* = meet record

100 meters

1. SCH Katelyn Jackson 12.22

3. SCH Bridget Lipp 13.23

200 meters

1. SCH Katelyn Jackson 25.04

3. SCH Bridget Lipp 26.71

5. GA Kiernan McCloskey 27.08

400 meters

1. EA Keri Boyce 1:00.22

4. SCH Drew Davis 1:00.64

5. GA Anna Hallahan 1:01.56

800 meters

1. ND Maria Seykora 2:17.62

2. GA Kerry Lawlor 2:21.24

1600 meters

1. ND Maria Seykora 4:57.30 *

2. SCH Jamie Costarino 5:12.44

4. GA Madeline Stambaugh 5:16.88

5. PC Catie Skinner 5:21.50

3200 meters

1. ND Maria Seykora 11:34.48 *

2. SCH Jamie Costarino 11:44.36

5. PC Catie Skinner 11:55.59

100 high hurdles

1. ND Katie Nappi 16.47

3. SCH Katelyn Jackson 16.95

5. GA Fran Sweeney 17.60

300 intermediate hurdles

1. ND Katie Nappi 45.19 *

High jump

1. GA Megan McCloskey 5’9” *

2. GA Kiernan McCloskey 5’0”

3. SCH Olivia Byron 4’10”

Long jump

1. ND Moira Putsch 17’2.5”

2. GA Megan McCloskey 16’9.75”

3. SCH Julia Reeves 16’8.5”

4. GA Kiernan McCloskey 16’2.5”

Pole vault

1. PC Marisa Shepard 7’9”

3. GA Riley Yankowich 7’6”

6. GA Sarah Armato 7’0”

Shot put

1. EA Gianna Pileggi 30’8.75”

2. PC Saagarika Thanvi 28’5”

4. PC Caroline Jones 27’0.25”

6. PC Ashleigh Brown 24’4.25”

Triple jump

1. SCH Julia Reeves 33’6”

2. GA Kiernan McCloskey 33’5.5”

5. PC Holly Webb 32’4”

6. SCH Jamie McGinn 31’6.75”