by Tom Utescher
For defending Inter-Ac League champion Penn Charter, getting off to a strong start in the field events at last weekend’s 2014 track and field championships would be an important key for the Quakers if they wanted to retain their crown.
The host for the 128th edition of the annual meet, Malvern Prep, had its runners achieve multiple titles in cross country last fall, so PC needed to establish a firm foundation in the team scoring during the jumps and throws last Saturday and then hope to hold off the Friars once the footraces began on the oval.
Unfortunately for the Quakers and their supporters, things didn’t go according to plan in the early stages of the gathering. Malvern placed first and second in the high jump and first and third in the shot put, and Haverford School and Episcopal Academy snapped up the first-place points in the other three field events.
Charter trailed both the Friars and the Fords on the leaderboard at the conclusion of the field phase, and Malvern’s resolve didn’t waver as it continued on to win the 2014 title with a total of 66 points. PC was able to overtake Haverford, though, winning the 4 x 400 relay that traditionally comes at the end of the schedule to secure the runner-up spot, netting 52 points to the Fords’ 44.
Germantown Academy accumulated just two points in the field events, but then had a more productive day on the track. Sophomore Devon Goodman won both the 110 meter and 300 meter hurdles and the Patriots secured fourth place with 24 points on the day. Behind them, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy and Episcopal tied for fifth, each posting 19 points.
SCH senior Frank Jackson was runner-up to Goodman in the 110 hurdles and also placed second in the long jump. He also finished third in the triple jump to account for 11 team points out of the Blue Devils’ 19. Fellow senior Graham Allen ran third in the 800, sophomore Jordan Johnson was fourth in the 200 meter dash, and junior Alex Mollick was fifth in both the 100 and 200.
In the field events, Penn Charter was the most successful in the pole vault, where seniors Gavin Hatfield and Drew Pierce garnered second and third place, respectively.
Freshman Akeem Blake wound up third in the high jump, but altogether, 15 points in this portion of the gathering did not meet the goals the Quakers had set for themselves.
Malvern didn’t score in the long jump or triple jump, but still came away with 20 points, while Haverford had done better than anyone, putting 27 points on the board.
“Malvern did a great job getting first and third in the shot,” noted Charter head coach Steve Bonnie, “and then when they went one-two in the high jump, I said to my coaches, ‘We’re in trouble now.’ We’d been hoping to maybe have a little lead in the field events, to give us a bit of a cushion.”
Due largely to senior James Biggs-Frazier’s victory in the 100 meter dash, Charter had actually drawn even with the Friars, 24-24, after the first two events on the track. Much later in the day, the Quakers also won the longest race, the 3200 meters, thanks to junior Ben Sjuhaj. This was the team’s most productive event, as seniors Hans Stedman and Scott Mason gave PC the third and fourth-place points, as well.
In all the distances in between, though, it was the Friars’ show, as the meet hosts won the 200, 400, 800, and 1600.
After GA experienced slim pickings at the jumping and throwing venues, the Patriots improved their standing during the running events. In addition to Goodman’s victories in the hurdles, junior Sam Ritz took second in both the 800 and 1600 meter contests.
Throughout the week, thunderstorms had been forecast for the second half of Saturday, and early in the afternoon, electronic warning gizmos consulted by the site managers indicated that rough weather was approaching.
Meet officials tried to get races underway ahead of schedule, and they squeezed everything in except the 3200 and the 4 x 400 before they were forced to clear the stadium. After little more than an hour, everyone was able to return to complete the race program.
“When they collapsed the schedule, it gave us problems with our roster,” the Quakers’ Bonnie explained, “because we had guys who were doubling up and who needed that time between events that was originally built into the schedule. We ended up with a lot of guys who were just tired and couldn’t run their normal times. You have to give Malvern credit because they were really into it and they competed hard in every event.”
Biggs-Frazier gave PC a close second-place finish in the 300 hurdles (one-hundredth of a second behind GA’s Goodman) and senior Charlie Hoyt was runner-up in the 400, but the Friars kept pulling farther ahead. By the time the weather delay occurred with two races to go, Malvern had 58 points to Charter’s 35.
Even with a six-point swing in the 3200, the meet hosts remained well out of reach, but the Quakers had another incentive to do well in the relay that wrapped up the meet. In an unlikely, but possible scenario, a win by Haverford and a scoreless sixth-place finish for Penn Charter would leave the two teams tied for second place, at 46-46.
The Fords did well, finishing second to add four points to their previous 40, but Charter scooped up the half-dozen points for the win, as juniors Sean Fitzgerald and Jamir Brown and seniors Tre Williams and Hoyt were victorious in three minutes, 25.88 seconds. Haverford’s time was 3:27.59, and Malvern was third in 3:28.59.
A figure of 3:32.50 netted fourth place for GA’s Nelson Floyd (senior), Goodman, Andrew Simon (junior), and Ritz, while a fifth-place finish in 3:34.60 by SCH’s Phil Giovinazzo (junior), Mollick, Jimmy Klauder (junior), and Allen allowed the Blue Devils to acquire the one point they needed to tie Episcopal for fifth place in the final team standings.
1. PC James Biggs-Frazier 10.95
2. MP Trevor Morris 11:07
3. HS Micah Sims 11:08
1. MP Trevor Morris 22.36
2. HS Micah Sims 22.56
3. EA Sam Pope 23:02
1. MP Casey Breuer 50.51
2. PC Charlie Hoyt 50.68
3. MP Elijah King 51.80
1. MP Jaxson Hoey 1:56.04
2. GA Sam Ritz 1:56.51
3. SCH Graham Allen 1:57.26
1. MP Jaxson Hoey 4:26.17
2. GA Sam Ritz 4:26.72
3. MP Brendan Stec 4:30.66
1. PC Ben Szuhaj 9:41.34
2. MP Billy McDevitt 9:49.77
3. PC Hans Stedman 10:14.91
110 high hurdles
1. GA Devon Goodman 15.45
2. SCH Frank Jackson 15.99
3. EA Chris McNeal 16.00
300 intermediate hurdles
1. GA Devon Goodman 41.62
2. PC James Biggs-Frazier 41.63
3. HS James Greytok 43.09
1. MP Andy Pancoast 6’5”
2. MP Jack Doherty 6’1”
3. PC Akeem Blake 6’0”
1. HS Micah Sims 22’5.5”
2. SCH Frank Jackson 22’4”
3. EA Sam Pope 20’5.5”
1. HS Spencer Rappaport 12’3”
2. PC Gavin Hatfield 11’6”
3. PC Drew Pierce 11’6”
1. MP Jake Rebisz 45’5”
2. HS Chauncey Simmons 43’5.75”
3. MP Chris Cary 43’5.5”
1. EA Sam Pope 45’1.5”
2. HS Reggie Harris 45’1.5”
3. SCH Frank Jackson 42’7”
4 x 400 relay
1. Penn Charter 3:25.88
2. Haverford School 3:27.59
3. Malvern Prep 3:28.59
4. Germantown Academy 3:32.50
5. Springside Chestnut Hill 3:34.60
6. Episcopal Academy 3:39.00