About to repeat as Inter-Ac League cross country champion, Germantown Academy senior Sam Ritz is running alone 200 meters from the finish line. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

About to repeat as Inter-Ac League cross country champion, Germantown Academy senior Sam Ritz is running alone 200 meters from the finish line. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Last Monday at the Inter-Ac League cross country championships, Germantown Academy senior Sam Ritz won the individual title for the second year in a row, but unlike last year, he was completely alone as he crossed the finish line.

Last year, he fought off a challenge from Malvern Prep’s Jaxson Hoey to claim the crown, but this time around Hoey was sitting out the race due to a stress fracture. Malvern still had enough horsepower to easily capture its fourth straight league championship, scoring 33 points while Penn Charter was a distant second with 76.

Malvern had not been seriously challenged in any of the league dual meets this fall. PC actually finished 2-3 in Inter-Ac dual meets with close losses to Episcopal Academy and Haverford School. However, by placing three runners in the top 11 at the championships and their other two scorers in the top 28, the Quakers were able to leapfrog both the Churchmen and the Fords in the final Inter-Ac standings.

Haverford was third with 80 points, three ahead of number four Germantown, while Episcopal placed fifth with 112 points and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy was sixth with 146.

GA’s Ritz completed the Belmont Plateau circuit in a time of 16:00.3, while Malvern’s lead runner, senior Billy McDevitt, took runner-up honors in 16:39.3 and Penn Charter’s Ben Szuhaj came in third at 16:54.2. The PC senior is the league’s defending champion in the 3200 meter run in track and field.

After Szuhaj finished last Monday, Malvern began to separate from the rest of the teams by landing junior Colin Wills in fourth place (16:59.6) and senior Ryan Doane in fifth (17:02.5). Senior Josh Herman gave GA sixth-place points in 17:09.4, and there were only two more runners in the 17-minute bracket, Haverford School sophomore Alex Kim (seventh; 17:27.4) and Charter junior Tom Freitag (eighth; 17:59.1).

After the rest of the top 10 was fleshed out by Malvern sophomore Addison Mueller (ninth; 18:08.0) and Episcopal Academy freshman Jakob Jorgensen (10th; 18:09.4), sophomore Harper Pollio-Barbee became the third finisher for the PC Quakers (11th; 18:17.6) and Springside Chestnut Hill sent its first runner across the line. This was sophomore Noah Chandler, who placed 12th in 18:20.7.

Next, Malvern capped off an impressive performance as its fifth scorer, senior Peter Borger, secured 13th place with a time of 18:22.4. He was followed by Malvern’s number six and Haverford’s second runner, then Sam Ritz’s brother Owen, a 10th-grader, became the third GA finisher, taking the 16th spot in 18:35.7. Junior Will Concannon, who was the lead runner for SCH through most of the season, entered the finishing chute at 18:48.5, becoming the second scorer for the Blue Devils, and 17th overall.

The fourth and fifth runners for Penn Charter assured the Quakers of a second-place finish at the meet. Junior Blaise Ciarrocchi was 26th in 19:20.6 and sophomore Josh Patton placed 28th in 19:29.5.

GA’s team tally was locked in once LeRoy Moser came in 25th overall in 19:20.4 and fellow senior Carter Seggev secured the 35th position in 20:08.5. In addition to Chandler and Concannon, the SCH Blue Devils had three scorers finish in succession in places 38 to 40. They were junior Robert Hass (20:53.4), sophomore Jamie Alden (21:57.5), and freshman Liam Feeney (23:40.3).