by Tom Utescher
Earlier this month is was announced that Germantown Friends School coach Rob Hewitt has been named as the 2014 Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association (PAISAA) Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year. Hewitt is currently the head coach for both girls and boys in cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track and field at Germantown Friends School.
When he arrived at GFS in 2004, the 2003 St. Joseph’s University grad first took on the boys’ cross country team, developing the squad into a successful enterprise at the state and regional levels, with several seasons in the national spotlight, as well. He was named the PAISAA boys cross country coach of the year four times.
In the fall of 2011 he set about upgrading the Tigers’ girls cross country team, which was already a strong program. A string of four Independent Schools championships followed, and in addition to the 2014 title, the Tigers claimed their 13th straight Friends Schools League crown. Four of Hewitt’s charges earned PAISAA All-State honors.
“Rob puts his heart and soul into coaching,” GFS Director of Athletics Katie Bergstrom Mark said. “He strives to instill confidence in his athletes. We have seen our female runners elevate their intensity of training and their drive to succeed under his tutelage.
“In the state championship meet there was a well-balanced and intentional plan that our athletes executed,” Bergstrom Mark continued. “Over the past few seasons, Rob has made our already solid girls cross country program even better. I expect that he will continue to strive to make each runner better no matter what their times or skill level; he cares about each and every athlete’s personal development.”
The PAISAA’s boys coach of the year was Haverford School’s Bryan Skelly. He and Hewitt happened to run cross country together back at Washington Township High School in Sewell, N.J.
Hewitt’s various coaching hats at GFS have him working with Tigers runners throughout the school year, and his athletes haven’t slacked off during the winter indoor track season. He was excited about the results the program produced at the Yale Track Classic, which was held in New Haven on January 16 and 17.
Junior Sarah Walker ran the fastest 800 time in the country so far this year, at two minutes, 10.52 seconds (she ran 2:06.62 outdoors last spring as a sophomore). In the girls’ Distance Medley Relay, Walker’s 4:59.9 split on the 1600-meter anchor leg helped the Tigers establish a new number one time in Pennsylvania for the indoor season (12.21.74). She was preceded in the race order by Brigit Andersson (1200), Tayrn Milbourne (400), and Greta Meyer (800).
Germantown Friends also claimed a PA #1 in the boys’ DMR (10:33.10) thanks to Grayson Hepp (1200), Giulian MacFarland (400), Zach Goldberg (800), and Nick Dahl (1600). Dahl, still only a sophomore, turned in a 4:16.8 anchor leg, and individually, he logged the third fastest Pennsylvania time in the 3000 meters, with a figure of 8:44.12.
In the girls’ 4 x 400 meters, the fourth-best time in the state (4:01.83) was produced by the quartet of Milbourne, Andersson, Walker, and Meyer, while in the 4 x 200 the Tigers turned in a PA #11 time. Here, 12th-grader Milbourne ran the third leg, teaming up with three freshmen. Taryn Barrett performed the second leg, and twins Portia and Teasha McKoy ran the lead-off and anchor legs, respectively.
In the boys’ high jump, GFS senior Ahshar Williams made it into top 10 in the state with a leap of 6’2”.