by Tom Utescher
Last fall, the boys’ and girls’ cross country teams at Germantown Friends each won their 13th straight Friends School League championship. The girls were also the team champions at the 2014 Pennsylvania Independent Schools meet, where the Tiger boys were a close second to Malvern Prep.
Each squad returns most of its top seven runners from a year ago, so GFS should once again be title contenders this fall.
The female Tigers only graduated one of their five scorers from last year’s PAIS champion squad, 12th-place finisher Brigit Andersson. The top two for GFS in that race were current junior Griffin Kaulbach (seventh) and senior Alice Wistar (eighth), who are the Germantown Friends co-captains for 2015.
Up with the leaders for much of the Indy Schools race last fall, then-junior Sarah Walker struggled a bit near the end and placed ninth, but as one of the top 800-meter runners in the United States, she will be a performer to be reckoned with on the cross country circuit. Elise Hocking, still only a sophomore, was the fifth scorer for the Tigers in the PAIS meet, coming in 15th overall.
The team only had six entries in the event instead of the usual seven; Arielle Frank, a 2015 grad, took 20th place.
Veteran GFS head coach Rob Hewitt, who oversees both the boys and the girls, says that senior Ella Komita Moussa and junior Sophie Smith are among the prime candidates to become part of the varsity seven.
Lauren Easley is the fourth senior on the roster, which also lists juniors Tara Kohli, Caroline MacRae, and Ellie Zack, sophomores Lexy Pickering and Sophie Quaglia, and freshman Kate Kearns. Hewitt said that the GFS ladies won’t have an easy time defending their FSL title against a talented Friends Central squad.
Because the school only offers two varsity fall sports for boys as opposed to four for the girls, the pool of male cross country runners is larger.
From last year’s PAIS runner-up team, the boys have graduated two of the five scorers, Joe Newman (eighth) and Peter Jarka-Sellers (15th). Current junior Nick Dahl, who is an outstanding two-miler on the track, was the standard bearer for the Tigers at the 2014 Indy Schools race, placing fourth overall. Senior Grayson Hepp was ninth, and as with the girls’ team, the fifth scorer was only a freshman, Zach Goldberg (18th).
The other two runners from the 2014 varsity seven are also back this fall, junior Daniel Stassen (24th) and senior Zach Schwartz (47th).
Coach Hewitt expects that the young Goldberg will just keep getting better, and he suggests that this could be an impact year for runners such as junior Jonnie Plass and sophomore Colin Reilly.
In addition to the aforementioned athletes, the GFS roster includes seniors Jad Blaik and Max Mines, juniors Ethan Addis, John Berman, Zack Crenshaw, Ellis Maddox, Jacob Newsham, and Tunde Sogo, sophomores Alexander Blaylock, Sam Mauro, and Tim Peterson, and freshmen Levi Andrews-Hoke, Noah Anninger, Porter Garst, Sekou Hamer, Jackson Quitel, Henry Ziegler, and Ben Zack.