Germantown Academy freshman Vinit Joshi (left) challenges senior schoolmate Maggie Hallahan near the finish line during last Thursday’s cross country meet. He passed her, but the boys had started the race before the girls, so Hallahan had the better time by more than a minute. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

Germantown Academy freshman Vinit Joshi (left) challenges senior schoolmate Maggie Hallahan near the finish line during last Thursday’s cross country meet. He passed her, but the boys had started the race before the girls, so Hallahan had the better time by more than a minute. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

In addition to a team victory in their 2015 Inter-Ac League cross country opener last Thursday afternoon, the Germantown Academy girls were able to celebrate some individual achievements. Leading the host Patriots to a 22-34 victory over the visiting Owls of Agnes Irwin School, junior Abbe Goldstein and senior Maggie Hallahan both broke the existing GA course record of 19 minutes, 24 seconds, a mark set last fall by Goldstein.

Goldstein lopped two dozen seconds of her old standard to win the race in 19 minutes flat, while Hallahan, who actually was a bit under the weather, ground out a 19:23 to cross the line in second place.

These were important performances for GA, since Irwin made things interesting by garnering third and fourth place courtesy of freshman Saniya Watts (20:47) and senior Jessica Crowley (20:48). As an eight-grader last fall, Watts was already turning in top-10 finishes in major races.

The Patriots locked up last week’s dual meet win by having their other three scorers position themselves fifth, sixth, and eighth in the order.

They were sophomore Jackie DeRusso (22:03.3), senior Jill Silverman (22:03.9), and sophomore Sydney Sciascia (23:20).

In 2014, Goldstein had won the Inter-Ac League cross country championships and was runner-up at the Pennsylvania Independent Schools meet (GA was the third-place team in both events). The small, slim junior is also the reigning Inter-Ac and Indy Schools champion on the track for both the 1600 and 3200-meter events.

Last week’s encounter with Irwin was the first 2015 dual meet for the Patriots, but the previous Saturday the Patriots had participated in the annual George School invitational, placing sixth as a team. Hallahan had come in sixth individually, and Goldstein was third with a time of 18:18 that shattered her previous personal best mark by more than a minute.

That performance had been the product of a lot of work the junior put in over the summer.

“I increased my mileage and really focused on all aspects of my running,” Goldstein said. “I worked on my core for a bit, I paid more attention to my nutrition, and I went to some running camps. At one camp out at Stanford we did some work on the track, but other than that it was all cross country running.”

The GA team would look a bit different when she got back to school; three runners from the 2014 top seven had graduated, and four more were gone from the starting JV group.

“At the first day of practice, there weren’t a lot of people, and the vibe was kind of weird,” she related. “But a lot of the people who came back have stepped up their level a lot, which is exciting because I think we can really be a contender in the league.”

At GA last Thursday, the boys cross country team was also in action, running the same course and starting a little earlier than the girls.

“This was a little more relaxed than George School,” Goldstein remarked just after the Inter-Ac opener. “I was still working hard, but with this meet you could chase the boys, so that made it fun.”

Crossing the line between GA number four and five Silverman and Sciascia was the third finisher for Agnes Irwin, junior Olivia Carey (seventh; 22:59). The other two scorers for the Owls were Laura Cutler in ninth place (23:28) and Maddie Aguire in the 11th spot (24:02).

These two visitors were separated by GA senior Ashley Stauber (23:43), and the number seven for the Pats was another 12th grader, Cecily Ho (15th; 24:52). Ho and Maggie Hallahan are co-captains for the GA squad.

Hallahan’s sister Katie, a sophomore, placed 17th overall in 25:08, and also making the top 20 was junior Noelle Mlynarczyk, 19th in 25:32.

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