by Tom Utescher
At the boys’ Inter-Ac League cross country championship meet last Monday, GA sophomore Matt Sandifer completed the Belmont Plateau course in 17 minutes, 43.1 seconds to record a solid fifth-place finish overall.
Unfortunately for supporters of the three league schools on this side of the Schuylkill, he was the only runner from GA, Penn Charter, or Springside Chestnut Hill Academy to occupy any of the top 13 places.
The Main Line teams held sway, with Malvern posting 34 points for the team victory, defending champ Haverford slipping to second this time with 47, and Episcopal Academy coming in third with 65 points.
Sandifer’s older brother, Drew, was the second GA runner to cross the line, finishing out his senior season in the league by placing 16th overall (18:59.1) and helping the Patriots land in fourth place as a team, with 90 points.
Fifth, with 127 points, came Penn Charter, following the lead of freshman Drew Gillespie (18th; 19:07.6) and sophomore Luke Jaspan (19th; 19:19.1). Springside Chestnut Hill Academy also had its two swiftest athletes, both sophomores, lodged in the top 20. Marco Goldberg placed 14th in 18:37.1) and Matt Miles came in 17th in 19:04.0 as the Blue Devils put up 136 points as a team for a sixth-place outcome.
Penn Charter had some better news on the middle school front; the Quakers won the boys’ race, and the girls won their event, as well.
In varsity competition, Malvern had run the table in the league dual-meet season, and the Friars also had the defending individual champion in Peter Borger, now a senior. When things began to break up at the front of the race, Borger still found himself shadowed by Episcopal senior Elias Lindgren, who’d come in fourth in 2016.
The two stayed together most of the way, but on the descent from the ridge with half-a-mile to go, Lindgren separated himself from the Friars’ frontman to win in 16:26.6. Borger was runner-up in 16:40.1, and he had to be encouraged when he saw three of his Malvern brethren also wind up among the top seven runners overall. The Friars’ fifth man placed 15th to lock in the winning score.
Haverford and Episcopal had second and third in their possession a bit later, as GA, PC and SCH just didn’t have enough support under their first two runners to break into the top half of the league standings.
Completing the team score for GA were seniors Nick DiBello (20th; 19:20.5) and Oliver Haddow (21st; 19:23.9) and junior Dan Ritz (28th; 20:16.4). The third through fifth runners for PC were senior Blaise Chiarrocci (26th; 19:49.7), junior Alex Turner (31st; 20:37.5) and senior Chris Thomas (33rd; 20:44.8), and the team tally for SCH was rounded out by freshman Peter Humphreys (32nd; 20:40.3), sophomore Haotian Cao (36th; 21:32.8) and senior David Moslow (37th; 21:47.2).
Aside from a very brief light shower, conditions were pleasant enough at the championships, with overcast skies that the runners tend to prefer to the sun beating down on them. Unfortunately, the atmosphere became a little unpleasant near the end of the proceedings as, for the second year in a row at this event, a tank truck pulled up to clean out the row of portable toilets just a few dozen yards from the finish line. When the driver deployed his vacuum hose and began stirring the potties, pretty much everyone felt like running.