The Germantown Friends girls show off the 2013 championship plaque they won last weekend at the Pa. Independent Schools Cross Country Championships, where the Tigers claimed top honors for the third year in a row. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

The Germantown Friends girls show off the 2013 championship plaque they won last weekend at the Pa. Independent Schools Cross Country Championships, where the Tigers claimed top honors for the third year in a row. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

With no dominating frontrunner this season, the girls’ cross country team at Germantown Friends really saw its pack-running prowess put to the test last Saturday at the 2013 Pa. Independent Schools Championships.

The Tigers’ well-established ability to closely space their scorers served them in good stead, as they won the annual meet at Belmont Plateau for the third year in a row.

Although Germantown Academy’s Abbe Goldstein (a freshman) and Paige Kupsky (a sophomore) took second and third place and the first GFS runner, junior Brigit Andersson, was eighth overall, GFS had all of its other four scorers land within the top 16 spots, and even its sixth and seventh finishers made it into the top 20.

The resulting total of 55 points allowed them to hold off GA, which scored 60 to become runner-up for the second straight year. From there the scores rose quickly, with Episcopal Academy coming in third with 106 points, and with Springside Chestnut Hill Academy repeating as the fourth-place franchise, this time with 135 points.

The coach for victorious GFS, Rob Hewitt, commented, “It was closer than I expected it to be at the end. Coming out of the woods I thought we were in good shape, but I didn’t anticipate GA’s one and two would run that far away from our number one. They had a great race.”

The previous week, GFS had won its 12th straight Friends Schools League title by a 20-point margin, but in an event at Belmont Plateau last Monday, the girls’ championship meet in the Inter-Ac League turned into a pitched battle between GA and Springside Chestnut Hill.

Although GA’s Patriots had beaten SCH by six points in a dual meet back in mid-September, the Blue Devils looked to be in a good position to defend their 2012 Inter-Ac championship last week when the first four of their five scorers arrived among the top nine finishers.

However, the wait for the Devils’ number five would be a long one, and in the meantime the Patriots got all five scorers and their number six across the line, capturing the 2013 crown over SCH by a score of 46-49.

More than 20 points behind, Episcopal was third with 70, and following the Churchwomen were Notre Dame (104), Agnes Irwin (136), Baldwin (137), and Penn Charter (141).

GA’s Goldstein was the individual winner in 19:46.2, and SCH junior Jamie Costarino, who won the Inter-Ac meet last year in 19:20 (on the older, shorter version of the Belmont course), was second this time around in 20:21.9. Blue Devils freshman Terri Turner (who won the SCH-GA dual meet a month earlier) wound up behind a pair of Episcopal Academy athletes to place fifth in 20:45.0.

When SCH had eighth-grader E.K. Helstrom slip into sixth place (20:57.9) and sophomore Nicole Novo secure ninth place (21:09.8), the team had received an impressive total of 22 points from its first four. The only GA Patriot besides Goldstein to place in the top ten was Kupsky (eighth in 21:05.7), but after Novo crossed the line four seconds after Kupsky, the next runner to finish for the Devils occupied the 27th spot overall.

This was sophomore Brooklynn Broadwater (23:19.3), who is much better known as a sprinter and hurdler. Meanwhile GA had put the finishing touch on a 46-point team score, three better than SCH. For the Pats, 11th and 12th place went to the Hallahan sisters, sophomore Maggie (21:21.2) and senior Anna (21:38.7), and the final scorer was senior Alyssa Bunim, who was 14th overall in 22:05.8.

This had been SCH’s best shot at a title, since Helstrom, as an eighth-grader, was not eligible to compete at the Indy Schools championships on Saturday. The Devils also had to go without a second eighth-grader who had been one of their top seven runners through most of the season.

In this race, George School sophomore Jerrica Bauer, the 2013 Friends League champion, went in front early and stayed there, winning unchallenged in 19:26.5. Inter-Ac titlist Goldstein was second in 19:41.9, and this time her teammate, Kupsky, was close behind, landing in third place at 19:46.1. SCH’s Costarino, the runner-up at the Indy Schools meet last fall, was fourth in 19:56.4, a little ahead of the last finisher under the 20-minute mark, Episcopal junior Katherine Hong (19:58.9).

Following number six Annie Kennedy, a Friends Central sophomore (20:09.6), Turner became the second runner to finish for the SCH Blue Devils, placing seventh in 20:20.9.

Germantown Friends hadn’t put anyone across the line thus far, but now the outlook for the Tigers quickly began to improve. Andersson (20:33.1) led a small group of GFS athletes who snapped up four of the next five places. Senior Alison Love (20:35.3) and sophomore Caitlin Harrity (20:41.4) took ninth and 10th, respectively, and after an 11th-place outcome for Episcopal junior Alexis Malmberg, Tigers junior Arielle Frank (20:51.3) rounded out the top dozen.

Contending for 13th place, Baldwin School senior Alice Douglas won out over GA’s Maggie Hallahan, with their respective times at 20:55.9 and 20:57.2. The elder Hallahan, Anna, arrived 18th in 21:37.7, but before that GFS checked in both its final scorer, sophomore Alice Wistar (16th; 21:09.9) and its number six, freshman Griffin Kaulbach (21:21.3).

The Tigers’ seventh runner, senior Cece Dye, wrapped up her race in 20th place (21:40.4) before GA had its final team score in place. Fifth among the Patriots was Bunim, completing her circuit in 21:51.0 for 23rd place.

In between these two came the third runner for Springside Chestnut Hill, Novo, who secured 21st place in 21:44.1.

The Blue Devils’ Broadwater was 38th overall with a PR of 22:42.3, and the last SCH scorer was sophomore Cara Stapleton, 65th in 24:27.7.

Penn Charter ranked 10th out of the 14 teams entered, with 220 points. Finishing close together for the Quakers, in 27th and 28th place, were senior Glynis Braun (22:01.7) and sophomore McKenna Krall (22:07.5).

Hewitt, the Germantown Friends skipper, said “Caitlin Harrity, Alison Love, and Arielle Frank had a good day, and I was happy with what Griffin Kaulbach did as a freshman. It was also nice to see Cece Dye lower her PR by a lot.

“We had some girls fade back a bit over the last 1200 meters of the race,” he continued, “but overall I’m pleased with what we did, since this isn’t the race that we’re really trying to peak for. We’re going up to Bowdoin Park (N.Y.) for the Nike Northeast Regionals, and that’s still a month away.”