by Tom Utescher
Several local girls’ cross country teams had reason to celebrate at the 2014 Pennsylvania Independent School Cross Country Championships, which were held on October 25 at Belmont Plateau.
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s Terri Turner won the varsity race in 20 minutes, 2.5 seconds, passing fellow sophomore Abbe Goldstein (the two-time Inter-Ac League champ from Germantown Academy) about 30 meters from the finish line.
A third 10th-grader, Germantown Friends’ Griffin Kaulbach, finished seventh overall as the Tigers captured their fourth straight title at the PIAS meet. Placing all five individual scorers in the top 16 overall, GFS emerged ahead of runner-up and fellow Friends Schools League member Friends Central, 51-67, while GA was third with 93 points and SCH was fourth, with 102.
The next four spots in the team scoring went to Notre Dame (141), Episcopal Academy (160), Agnes Irwin (176), and George School (236), then Penn Charter placed ninth in the 15-team field, with 247 points.
SCH’s Turner had come in seventh at the 2013 Indy School meet, and five days before this year’s event, she placed fifth at the 2014 Inter-Ac League championships, also held at Belmont.
“She wasn’t feeling well at Inter-Ac’s,” reported Blue Devils coach Ann Keiser. “She had some kind of upper-respiratory bug. There wasn’t really a race plan for today [at the PIAS], just for her to see how she felt and do what she could.”
“I was definitely feeling better today,” said the sophomore. “I couldn’t really be sure about that until I got out there, so the plan for me was just run.”
After the first short loop of the course (roughly 1500 meters), Turner was running fifth. GA’s Goldstein was out in front with Sarah Walker, a junior who had been Germantown Friends’ lead runner for much of the 2014 season. Just ahead of Turner were GA junior Maggie Hallahan and Friends Central’s Gabby Wilkinson, a freshman who had won the Friends Schools League meet back on October 14.
During the middle mile in the wooded section of the course, Turner passed two of the runners ahead of her, then she went by Walker when the athletes emerged from the trees and began the last of the three uphill climbs on the course. Goldstein still led at the three-mile mark, but along the final straight Turner came up on the GA’s runner’s left and churned into the lead for a dramatic victory.
Goldstein was fading over the final meters and she collapsed after crossing the finish line, suffering from dehydration. She clocked in about four seconds after Turner, at 20:06.4. For third place, Wilkinson (20:16.0) beat out Hallahan (20:17.2), with Episcopal senior Alexis Malmberg finishing fifth (20:23.3) and Notre Dame sophomore Sydney Stribmy (20:24.4), sixth.
When GFS claimed its 13th straight Friends League title a few weeks earlier, Kaulbach had been the runner-up overall, and at the PAIS race she once again paced the Tigers, seventh in 20:32.4.
“She’s tough as nails and she’s been running great all season,” GFS head coach Rob Hewitt said. “She just goes out there and reacts, and she doesn’t let anything get to her during a race.”
Germantown Friends’ fortunes as a team continued to improve as junior Alice Wistar (20:41.3) and Walker (20:47.6) took eighth and ninth place, respectively.
“Sarah ran one of her best cross country races through 4k [4000 meters] and then it just fell apart on her,” Hewitt remarked. “We had a couple of girls who didn’t do as well as they’d hoped, but even when things didn’t go according to plan, our girls were pretty resilient, and they gave us what we needed to win as a team.”
After athletes from Agnes Irwin and Episcopal filled the next two places, senior Brigit Andersson came in 12th in 21:08.7 to become the Tigers’ fourth finisher. After Friends Central’s number two crossed the line, Springside Chestnut Hill saw its second runner arrive; sophomore Rebecca Saunders was 14th overall in 21:15.6.
An Abington Friends senior was next, but AFS did have an official team in the race, so the points for 15th place went to GFS thanks to their fifth scorer, freshman Elise Hocking (21:20.5).
“I think as a freshman, she doesn’t feel as much pressure as some of the older girls, and that’s good,” Hewitt noted. “She just goes out and does it, and she looks great out there.”
Hocking’s effort was important to the team effort, as the next three spots all went to the runner-up squad, Friends Central. GFS only entered six runners in the meet; senior Arielle Frank was 20th in 21:39.4.
Right after Frank finished, SCH picked up its third score thanks to senior Jamie Costarino (21:56.6), who had been the runner-up at the 2012 PAIS championships.
In the 2013 Indy School meet, George School’s Jerrica Bauer had won by 15 seconds. Still only a junior this fall, Bauer was injured late in the regular season and had to miss both the Friends League championships and the PAIS race. Instead, George School saw its first runner come in 22nd, just after Costarino.
GA put its third and fourth runners in the top 30, with junior Jillian Silverman 25th in 22:04.3 and freshman Kelsey O’Hara 27th in 22:13.3. The Patriots’ team score was locked in when senior Olivia Gorman came in 35th in 22:48.0.
An SCH freshman, Allie Kitchell, placed 30th with a time of 22:25.8, and number five for the Blue Devils, in 36th place, was junior Brooklynn Broadwater (22:54.4). The Penn Charter effort was spearheaded by junior McKenna Krall, with her time of 22:16.2 counting for 29th place in the team scoring. Another 10 spots behind was senior Maya Pressley in 23:04.3, and the other three scorers for the Quakers were sophomore Rosemary Kaufman (57th; 23:53.5), junior Kolby Kaller (59th; 23:57.8), and sophomore Emma Locke (63rd; 24:13.9).
For a number of years now, GFS runners have participated in the Nike® Cross Country Northeast Regionals that are staged upriver from New York City in Wappingers Falls, N.Y. This year both that event and the Foot Locker® Cross Country Nationals Northeast Regional will take place on Saturday, November 29. The Foot Locker race is held right in New York City, at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.
“This year we’re letting the kids choose which one we go to,” Hewitt revealed. “It’ll be a great experience either way.”